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Galactic News

Friday July 12, 2002
Homing Beacon #64

The latest Homing Beacon has arrived, and today we get to talk costuming and Attack of the Clones! The last time talked to Gillian Libbert, way back in 1999, she worked as Lucasfilm's Character Appearances Manager, preparing costumed characters for commercials and publicity events. After wrapping up that job, she placed a call into Trisha Biggar, Costume Designer for Episode I who was just starting on Episode II's early pre-production.

"My background was in production, and I really wanted to get back into it," says Libbert, who asked Biggar to contact her should she need any help. Given the costume requirements of Episode II, Biggar did just that. "Since Trish lived in Scotland, she needed someone in the U.S., particularly at Skywalker Ranch, to help coordinate things on this end. It was meant to be a two-week job, and ended up turning into two years," she says.

Over those two years, Libbert was involved throughout all stages of production and beyond, first sourcing fabric and working with the concept artists, and then traveling down to Fox Studios Australia, assisting Biggar during principal photography.

"I can definitely say I've mastered the Jedi costume," she says confidently. "We probably did about 50 Jedi at a time for the end battle, but we made enough costumes for 200 to 250 people."

Libbert's previous experience at Lucasfilm afforded her familiarity with a number of different departments. "I think it helped Trish a lot, since I knew the Lucasfilm structure" she says. For instance, for the Licensing division that produces the toys, she oversaw the costumes during reference photography shoots and 3D laser scanning. For the Publicity Department, she ensured costume continuity during magazine photo shoots. "I have done cover shoots with Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman, and I also did one with George Lucas and Jango Fett in the middle of a dry lake bed."

During postproduction effects shooting, Libbert dressed the extras that would populate many of the digitally enhanced crowd scenes -- particularly the Geonosis arena Jedi and the underworld Coruscant citizenry. She would also offer her expertise to the digital cloth simulation artists creating digital wardrobe for computer-generated characters (like Jar Jar) and stunt duplicates (like Obi-Wan).

Libbert had a chance to step in front of the camera for a cameo appearance as a Coruscant extra. "There's a reason I'm behind the scenes," she laughs modestly. Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll was gathering bluescreen elements of background extras to populate the Coruscant nightclub and alleys. "I think we probably dressed about 800 to 1,000 extras," estimates Libbert. At Knoll's prompting, Libbert donned an outfit cobbled together from various pieces and played a surprised bystander during the foot chase.

"It was a good time; Julie D'Antoni (ILM Production Manager) and I laughed so hard because I had a tendency to overact," she admits. "John's reaction was, 'Um... you need to tone that down.'" After a handful of takes, her screen debut was secured, but she hadn't realized just how prominent in frame she was to be until ILM screened their dailies for George Lucas.

"I could have just died," she says. "I was mortified, because there I was on the big screen -- at least Julie was there too. John took his laser pointer, circled our faces and said, 'there's Gillian and there's Julie.' But George finaled the shot so I guess my acting debut was a success!"

Jedi Power