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Friday February 7, 2003
Homing Beacon #78

The latest Homing Beacon has arrived, and today we get to talk about the Battle of Geonosis! Where in the world is the rocky terrain of Geonosis? The overwhelming final act of Episode II was reason enough for repeat viewings. The chaos of the Clone War battlefield was vividly brought to life by the digital artists at Industrial Light & Magic under the leadership of Ben Snow, Visual Effects Supervisor. With the freeze-frame clarity of DVD, fans can revel in the intricate detail and craftsmanship of these amazing shots. Here are a handful of behind-the-scenes factoids from the epic battle.

  • The CG models of the Republic attack gunships had to be extremely detailed to withstand viewer scrutiny during close-ups. ILM even crafted a version with a fully decked out interior, which was used as the background for new bluescreen elements of the actors aboard the gunships shot during additional photography in London. The real life gunship interior sets were left in Sydney, so these new shots required digital gunship interiors.

  • To efficiently deliver a realistic explosion for the gunship that gets shot out of the sky, ILM built a mandrill of the vessel. A mandrill is an all-blue practical miniature. It was rigged with pyrotechnics and blown up. The properly shaped explosion was digitally extracted, interacting with the properly shaped wreckage, and digital artists replaced the blue gunship with the computer-generated one.

  • Many of the explosions of the final ground battle were real ones rather than digital fireballs. They were shot in the backlot at ILM. Explosions were such in demand that the compositors dipped into the library of explosions built for the Naboo plains battle from Episode I to fill out the shots.

  • Yoda's command center was a 1/6th scale miniature.

  • Though the Republic AT-TE walkers were computer-generated, at least one 1/10th scale miniature was constructed for pyrotechnic purposes. The walker that gets blown apart by an armor-busting Hailfire missile was first shot as a miniature against greenscreen. This provided valuable reference for the animators, though the scale of the resulting miniature explosion proved unusable as a final element. Also, the miniature was shot with a static camera while the finished shot had a swooping camera move that followed the rocket: a CG walker was needed to properly move with the perspective of the shot.

  • A number of subtle visual clues were incorporated into the design of the shots to help audiences keep track of who's who. The good guys -- the Republic clones -- always move from screen right to screen left, while the Separatist forces moved from screen left to screen right. The sun is behind the clones, resulting in a gloomier sky behind the Separatists. Finally, the missile contrails were color-coded to denote allegiance: the Republic rockets leave clean white trails, while the villains launch missiles that leave noxious black exhaust.

  • To efficiently communicate the damage sustained by the Trade Federation core ship blasted out of the sky, two versions of the computer-generated vessel were made. One bore its standard paint job. The other was the "distressed" version, with carbon scoring damage painted across the surface. Both were animated performing the same movement, and the compositors used animated mattes to gradually reveal the damaged ship from "behind" the intact one, covering the transitions with composited fire and explosion effects.

Posted: by Jedi Power

Friday January 24, 2003
Homing Beacon #77

The latest Homing Beacon has arrived, and today we get to talk about Geonosis! Where in the world is the rocky terrain of Geonosis? Some of it can be found in the American southwest. Some of it, in the model shops of Industrial Light & Magic, and much of it as computer-generated imagery and digital information that stitches all these pieces together to make a unique and foreboding alien world.

"We put a lot of thought into the landscape of Geonosis, as to how it might look, with different buttes and rocks," says Ben Snow, one of ILM's Visual Effects Supervisors on Episode II. "George Lucas had a very specific look in mind: Monument Valley but much redder and more alien. Because Monument Valley is so distinctive to filmgoers, we tried to take that spirit and look at some real world locations that would be different, yet with the same qualities."

Snow's initial plan was to shoot background plates in the American southwest, but Lucas and Producer Rick McCallum challenged the digital artists to provide a solution that wouldn't require a costly location shoot. Instead, only a trio of effects artists with still cameras -- Snow, Effects Director of Photography Martin Rosenberg and Digital Matte Lead Jonathan Harb -- voyaged to the Hite Marina in Utah to gather the raw data that would become Geonosis.

"We tiled our stills together, and used it as a background, digitally altering it as needed, and removing the vegetation. The other thing we had to do was to create the sky of Geonosis. George wanted a really yellow, different sky, so we painted a large sky panorama," says Snow.

For much of the Clone War ground battle, the landscape consisted of three distinct parts. The distant horizon was a digitally altered photographic plate. The mid-ground was computer-generated terrain. The immediate foreground consisted of detailed miniatures.

For the swooping approach shots of Padmé's starship soaring through the canyons, Snow's crew favored an all-digital method that was nonetheless rooted in real world topography.

"We actually pulled United States Geological Survey data from the USGS website, and we converted that data into our format. We took the data from the area where Ben and his crew shot stills," says Computer Graphics Supervisor Curt Miyashiro. "It gave Ben and George the flexibility to choose the shots any way they wanted, since they weren’t locked into any particular flight path or plate work"

The online data was fairly low-resolution, but formed the topographical foundation for more detailed work. Procedural shaders added erosion and texture to the canyons and mesas, significantly altering the landscape to make it an alien world. Since the landscape was entirely digital, it was easy to extract the necessary vantage points to create the reflectivity of Padmé's silvery ship.

When audiences were first given a glimpse of Geonosis in the "Breathing" teaser trailer in November 2001, what they saw was a work in progress. "We were still doing R & D work for a terrain system at that time, so we had to cheat it," says Miyashiro. "We used what we had developed at the time, as well as some elements leftover from the Podrace in Episode I to create the canyon walls." The shot was of course finished in time for theatrical release. 

Posted: by Jedi Power

Monday January 20, 2003
Nominations for Episode II

The Official Star Wars Site has announced that Episode II Attack of the Clones has been nominated for several awards. The Visual Effects Society, has announced the nominees in their first annual Visual Effects Awards. The efforts of Industrial Light & Magic have garnered Episode II six nominations:

  • Best Visual Effects in an Effects Driven Motion Picture
  • Best Character Animation in a Live Action Motion Picture
  • Best Matte Painting in a Motion Picture
  • Best Models and Miniatures in a Motion Picture
  • Best Visual Effects Photography in a Motion Picture
  • Best Effects Art Direction in a Motion Picture

The Critics' Choice Awards has recognized Animation Director Rob Coleman and his crew for the Yoda sequences, being nominated for Best Digital Acting Performance. For the rest of the nominations go here.

Posted: by Jedi Power

Friday January 10, 2003
Homing Beacon #76

The latest Homing Beacon has arrived, and today we get to talk about the Geonosian droid factory! A late addition to the postproduction of Episode II was the elaborate Geonosian droid factory set piece, which was conceived, scripted, previsualized and shot months after principal photography had wrapped. Visual Effects Supervisor Ben Snow and his unit tackled the eleventh hour action sequence.

"We used a combination of computer graphics and miniature work for the environment," says Snow. "Since everything in the factory is moving and interacting, we made a lot of it in computer graphics so we can deal with the complexity and the interaction."

The rust-hued smoke-belching clamor of the factory was a perfect showcase for the signature "used universe" feel of Star Wars. "To get a realistic grime and gritty feel, we enhanced our shots with CG and real smoke, sparks and pyrotechnical elements," says Snow. "To make the sequence tense and scary, we wanted to push for a realistic feel."

To that end, Snow took a crew of computer graphic artists and model-makers to a real automobile factory in the San Francisco Bay Area. "We looked at all these machines in action and try to get a good feel for it," he says. "One of the daunting things is just how much complexity there is in this real factory, and trying to reproduce that in computer graphics and visual effects is a bit overwhelming. But you're trying to convey an impression of it rather than having to get every bit of grime in there."

Even the car factory was judged too austere. "We decided we needed to take the team somewhere a bit nastier," says Snow. "We visited a foundry in the East Bay, and this was paydirt as far as I was concerned. Dark, and dirty, and old, I think it really defined the look we were going for. It had the texture and the sulfuric industrial smell that we wanted to try to evoke in our work. We took a bunch of photographs that we used as texture reference when painting our CG models and miniatures. It's really important to have good reference. It keeps us honest, particularly if we're doing a largely computer graphic scene."

The final factory environment was created using a combination of computer-generated elements and miniatures, with bluescreen plate photography of the actors properly aligned into the virtual surroundings. Helping add to the realism of the finished shots was a sense of purpose to the enveloping chaos.

"In a lot of the shots the machines could just be whirling around threateningly, but I thought it would make the sequence more exciting to see that the machines were actually building things," says Snow. "One of the things I did was to sit down and try to work out what each conveyer belt was doing, and made little maps showing the manufacturing process for the animators and artists on the sequence."

Posted: by Jedi Power

Thursday December 12, 2002
Homing Beacon #75

The latest Homing Beacon has arrived, and today we get to talk about the Kaminoan cloning facility! As Obi-Wan tours the Kaminoan cloning facility, he sees an immense hatchery of fetal clones suspended in glassy jars affixed to disc-like pods. This sequence incorporated live action and miniature elements, but the centerpieces of the environment -- the hatchery pods -- were entirely digital creations.

"Because the hatchery pieces were really comprised of five basic components that are repeated numerous times throughout the shots, computer graphics were a really good solution for creating this scene," says David Meny, Computer Graphics Supervisor at ILM.

The "real" elements of the shot included bluescreen photography of actor Ewan McGregor, a miniature corridor environment, and a miniature of the far dome interior. The glassy forest of hatchery pods outside the corridor was all digital.

"The main challenge in this sequence was realizing an environment that has so many glass elements with so many reflections and refractions. Also, there's a large number of models that you have to render, because in each of these jars there's a fetus with significant detail and motion," says Meny.

Each hatchery "tree" consisted of five repeated pieces: a fetus, a jar, a pod, a base, and a tube. "Because of the depth of the shot, we needed some pods that would stand-up very close to the camera and some that could be seen way in the background. We created multiple resolutions of the models to put the detail where we needed it, but not incur the expense of rendering that detail when we didn't expect to see it."

Within each jar was a fetal clone. ILM crafted two models to suggest different stages of clone development. The animators created one long sequence of motion for the fetus model, which was than offset throughout the jars for the illusion of individual performances.

Once the visual characteristics of the models were finalized, the shot began to be assembled layer by layer. For this shot, this was necessary since the visual and lighting complexity of the environment would be impossible to render in one pass. Some of the most complex layers alone required 12 hours per frame to render.

"We break it down to as many rendering layers as we can manage reasonably," says Meny. "In this shot, there's about 120 rendered layers that are then combined in the composite. The main reason in doing that is it gives you a lot more control to change things. If a certain part of the shot isn't working, you only have to re-render a subsection of that," says Meny.

With the outside hatchery assembled complete with lighting and atmospheric haze, one final addition gave the shot an added hint of realism. Since there was no reflective glass on the bluescreen stage during Ewan McGregor's shoot, ILM had to trick a reflection of Obi-Wan on the inside of the glass corridor. "The compositor had to cheat it using elements from other shots, and slip-sync them to give you a sense there's a reflection in the glass. The final composite is pretty subtle, and we hide it behind the principal element of Obi-Wan."

Posted: by Jedi Power

Thursday December 12, 2002
Can the clones procreate...

This report comes from the Official Star Wars Site!
Answered by: Madame Jocasta Nu-Jedi Librarian

Can the clones procreate without scientific intervention?

Yes, clones are fully capable of biological reproduction.

Posted: by Jedi Power

Monday December 9, 2002
During the meeting with the...

This report comes from the Official Star Wars Site!
Answered by:
Ben Burtt

During the meeting with the separatists, Wat Tambor fiddles with one of his dials and makes a noise that sounds like it's from the Q*Bert arcade game. Is this an inside joke, or mere coincidence?

This sound must be a mere coincidence. I made it using a vowel generator in a synthesizer device called the Kyma.

Posted: by Jedi Power

Monday November 25, 2002
IMAX Banners For Sale

The Official Star Wars Site has announced that
subscribers to the Star Wars Insider can now own the spectacular vinyl banner crafted for Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones -- The IMAX Experience. This is the same 4' x 6' vinyl banner seen hanging at select IMAX theaters across the U.S. and Canada. To find out how to get yours, click here!


Posted: by Jedi Power

Saturday November 16, 2002
Homing Beacon #73

The latest Homing Beacon has arrived, and today we get to the Episode II Attack of the Clones DVD! This week marks the arrival of the Episode II DVD. While the two-disc set has hours of expanded material exploring the creation of Attack of the Clones, a DVD-ROM weblink provides a gateway to even more content.

The DVD format has huge amounts of storage space, but producers must carefully balance the quantity of content placed on a disc, since it comes at the cost of image and sound quality. Basically, the more stuff jammed on a disc, the worse it all looks. As a result, some things couldn't fit on the DVD.

Some of this content is finding its way to Over the coming months, new material will be added to the site, but to start off, there's over 20 minutes of video there right now. Users will need a PC DVD-ROM, an Internet connection, and the Episode II DVD to take full advantage of these features.

DVD Trailer. Originally crafted to inform retailers of the Episode II DVD, this four-minute trailer provides an exciting summary of the disc's multitude of features.

Music featurette. Episode II marks the fifth Star Wars collaboration between George Lucas and composer John Williams. They liken the creation of the distinctive musical themes to the writing of a book, and Episode II adds some important chapters to the musical language of the saga. Find out more in this six-minute video.

ILM featurette. With over 2,000 visual effect shots, Episode II stands as one of Industrial Light & Magic's most phenomenal achievements. Learn more about the process and the innovators behind the magic in this 11-minute video.

Star Wars Bounty Hunter Cut Scene. Jango Fett has become one of the most popular characters from Episode II, and fans want more. See an exclusive sequence created by Industrial Light & Magic, featuring Jango, from the new Star Wars Bounty Hunter video game.

Depth Commentary. Thanks to software from InterActual, the power of DVD and the Internet are combined to deliver a text-based commentary as viewers watch Episode II on their computers. Color-coded "pop-up" blurbs deliver three types of information: learn behind-the-scenes factoids ("Hey, is that a fake beard?"), bits of lore trivia ("How did Typho lose that eye?"), or hard-to-spot visual treats ("Where exactly is 'THX-1138' in this movie?")

Not all the DVD-ROM extras require an Internet connection. Two of Lucas Online's most extraordinary website efforts have now been archived on the Episode II DVD.

First up is HoloNet News, a website of dozens of news stories as reported from within the Star Wars galaxy. First launched in the spring of 2002, this site kept track of the major happenings in the Republic in "real time" as the events of Episode II began to encroach. Archived on Disc One, this off-line version of the site allows readers to immerse themselves in the Star Wars galaxy as a citizen of a Republic threatened by Count Dooku's Separatist movement.

Another Episode II online experience that has been archived on the DVD is the Episode II College Campaign, which can be found by snooping around the walls of Dex's Diner on Disc Two. Although visible through just a standard DVD player, a DVD-ROM translates the full multimedia experience of these funky little websites -- including downloadable wallpapers and messenger icons. These sites launched last April to promote Attack of the Clones to select college audiences across North America.

Posted: by Jedi Power

Tuesday November 12, 2002
AOTC on DVD Today

Don't forget! Toys R' Us is selling the Attack of the Clones VHS and DVD for $9.99 starting today. Wal-Mart has now joined in the game and dropped their prices to $9.98 or less. Blockbuster will price match if you have the Toys R' Us or K-Mart ad. Happy hunting!


Posted: by Jedi Power

Tuesday November 12, 2002
I noticed that the Slave I sounds...

This report comes from the Official Star Wars Site!
Answered by:
Ben Burtt

I noticed that the Slave I sounds different in Clones and in Empire. There was an overlapping low whine that wasn't present in Clones. Is there a reason for this?

I expanded the library of sound for Slave I in Clones because the ship did a lot of new things. I used the sounds from Empire as a foundation, and made new sounds that would connect with the old.

I think the whine you refer to was a sound I made on a trumpet for Slave I taking off in Empire. That sound, also combined with a Doppler pass-by of the horn from my old '71 Dodge Duster was not used prominently in Clones and you probably missed it.

I certainly tried to tie both old and new all together.

Posted: by Jedi Power

Saturday November 9, 2002
Episode II DVD At Walgreen's

Ed Draganski has alerted us of a Walgreen's that is currently selling Attack of the clones! Here is the news:

"Star Wars news alert! If you want Attack of the Clones in full screen DVD or VHS, then you can pick it up at Walgreen's NOW - specifically down the street on Preston between Spring Creek & Parker next to the Texaco. The DVD is $24.99, VHS is $19.99. So if you're a fan of the fullscreen format, they had about 25 copies of the DVD, maybe a dozen of the tape. Hurry before George finds out. -Ed"

Thanks Ed! I am not sure where that is, but it is probably safe to say that more than one Walgreen's is selling the DVD at this point. Kohl's did something similar by selling the first wave of Attack of the clones figures before they came out everywhere else. It is worth a look!

Posted: by Jedi Power

Tuesday November 5, 2002
IMAX Rakes in the Money

The Official Star Wars Site has announced that Star Wars: Episode II Attack Of The Clones: The IMAX Experience opened big on the biggest screens this weekend, posting a forceful $1,435,259 on 58 IMAX screens in selected cities in North America, for a per engagement average of $24,746. This is one of the biggest openings ever for an exclusive IMAX release. The film is being distributed by Twentieth Century Fox exclusively to IMAX theatres through the holiday season. For the rest of this story and some really great pictures from the opening, go here!

Posted: by Jedi Power

Saturday November 2, 2002
AOTC Hits the Real Big Screen

The Official Star Wars Site has a good article on the thousands of fans in cities across North America that flooded theaters Thursday night for special advance screenings of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones - The IMAX Experience. It was Halloween night, of course, so many of the fans showed up in costumes. Reports from fan groups across the U.S. and Canada tell of sold-out late-night showings, drives for charities, gathering up the IMAX-exclusive Bantha Tracks magazine, and adults and children just having a great time and great enthusiasm for seeing and hearing Clones in a whole new way. Click here to see pictures of the fans in costume from all over as they prepared to see AOTC!

Posted: by Jedi Power

Thursday October 24, 2002
TOS Databank Update

The Official Star Wars Site has updated their databank with cut scenes from Episode II. On Disc Two of the Episode II DVD there are eight scenes deleted from the theatrical release of Attack of the Clones. Accompanying these scenes are introductions by Director George Lucas, Producer Rick McCallum, and Editor Ben Burtt that explain why they were left out of the final cut. Now that these elements are being made public, they have been added to the Episode II databank. To see Padmé's family, robots, and the Jedi hangar, click here!


Posted: by Jedi Power

Wednesday October 23, 2002
Buy the IMAX Poster

The Official Star Wars Site has announced that fans who are current subscribers to Star Wars Insider magazine can purchase the Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones -- The IMAX Experience poster directly from the Official Star Wars Fan Club.

The poster, available in limited quantities while supplies last, features a giant Yoda striding across North America, brandishing his lightsaber. Created by artist David McMacken for the theatrical release, these are the same double-sided posters that will be on display in IMAX theatres across the U.S. and Canada when the giant-sized version of Episode II opens November 1.

The Official Star Wars Fan Club will ship the posters with collectors' standards in mind. Posters will be packed with real white glove handling, with added protection to prevent damage. They will be shipped rolled in round tubes, packed with bubble wrap inside triangular mailing tubes. Posters are $24.95 each plus shipping for US customers.

Posted: by Jedi Power

Friday October 18, 2002
Insider #63

The Official Star Wars Site has provided a look into the latest Star Wars Insider! There's nasty critters prowling about the pages of the latest Star Wars Insider; issue #63 of the official magazine of the Star Wars Fan Club offers an unsettlingly close look at the monstrous creatures of Episode II.

Learn more about the venomous kouhouns, the ferocious (and photogenic) acklay, the bad kitty nexu, and the stubborn reek. Test your knowledge of classic Star Wars monsters in the accompanying trivia challenge. For more information and a look at the cover, click here!

Posted: by Jedi Power

Thursday October 17, 2002
Homing Beacon #71

The latest Homing Beacon has arrived, and today we get to talk with Samuel L. Jackson! Next month, Mace Windu comes to home video as Episode II arrives on DVD and VHS on November 12. No longer just sitting around the Council chambers, Windu gets to face off against enemies of the Republic and dispense Jedi justice with his violet-bladed lightsaber.

"I was thrilled about that," Samuel L. Jackson says. "It's wish fulfillment. All my life I wanted to be in a swashbuckling adventure movie but no one really makes them anymore."

Jackson has often equated the Star Wars films to the adventure epics of yesterday, ranking the Jedi warriors alongside such legends as Errol Flynn. It was that derring-do spirit that made Jackson a Star Wars fan way back when he first saw A New Hope during its original release.

"If George Lucas hadn't offered me the part of Mace Windu, I'd have gladly dressed up as an extra in stormtrooper gear. As long as I was in a Star Wars movie somewhere, even hidden in some kind of costume, I'd have been happy," he admits.

Episode II has become the key to unlocking the saga, as audiences can clearly see the connections that bind the Star Wars films together. Jackson was impressed at how well prepared director George Lucas was in piecing together the universe. "When there's something I don't know, then I'm not afraid to ask. I've watched all the movies and read a lot of the background stuff. You could spend hours on the ‘net checking out details, but a lot of the time people embellish Star Wars lore or just plain make stuff up. You have to filter a lot of things. As I say, the only person who really knows how everything fits together is George."

The unparalleled digital clarity of the DVD is the perfect showcase for Industrial Light & Magic's work, and even having been part of the filmmaking process doesn't blunt the impact of the visuals for an actor. Jackson had no problem with the amount of bluescreen shooting, since it appealed to a type of role-playing he had done as a youngster. "It kind of feels like I've been doing it all my life. Being an only child and having an active imagination, I did the same sort of thing in my room as a kid. I fought things that weren't really there and had conversations with people that were just in my head."

Despite such digital breakthroughs, Jackson isn't worried about being replaced by a computer-generated simulacrum someday. "You'll always need real people," he says. "Audiences like to imagine themselves in these situations, and the only way they can do that is through flesh-and-blood actors. You need a real person to relate to. Plus the public will always need movie stars to admire or gossip about."

Posted: by Jedi Power

Thursday October 17, 2002
IMAX Tickets Selling Fast

iscottimax posted some interesting information today at the SW Fourms

"Hello fellow fans,

I was a Star Wars fan many years before I became Theatre Director at the IMAX Theatre at Palisades Center in West Nyack, New York. I'm here to tell you that tickets are selling much faster than we'd projected and provide you with our schedule and contact info just in case you live nearby and can stop in before it's too late! Here's our schedule:

Thursday Oct 31st: 12 midnight
Friday November 1st: 1pm, 4:30pm, 7pm, 9:30pm, 11:45pm
Saturday November 2nd: 9:00am, 11:30am, 2pm, 4:30pm, 7pm, 9:30pm, 11:45pm
Sunday November 3rd: 9:00am, 11:30am, 2pm, 4:30pm, 7pm, 9:30pm

Tix can be purchased by calling 845 - 358 - IMAX (4629) and are $11 for adults, $10 for seniors and $9 for kids. The 501st and SWNYC will be here in full force on Saturday. Join us!"

Here is a link to the IMAX THEATRE AT PALISADES CENTER. If you live in North Carolina like me, you will have to drive to Raleigh if you wish to see Episode II on the big IMAX screen!


Posted: by Jedi Power

Wednesday October 16, 2002

The Official Star Wars Site has provided a look at the new theatrical poster for Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones -- The IMAX Experience. The biggest tiny Jedi Master looms large over several North American landmarks in artwork that recalls classic event posters of years past. This poster will begin making its way to select IMAX theaters this weekend. To see this cool new poster, click here! All collectors would love to add this one to their collection!

Posted: by Jedi Power

Monday October 14, 2002
IMAX Exclusive: Bantha Tracks #0

The Official Star Wars Site has announced that when Attack of the Clones opens in IMAX theaters around North America on November 1, it will be the hub of a great party for fans - one last chance to catch the latest installment of the Star Wars saga on the big screen with other fans. We do mean a big screen.

Where the fans are, the new Official Star Wars fan club can't be far away. The new quarterly Bantha Tracks fan club newsletter officially launches its first issue next month, but the folks at Paizo Publishing along with LucasArts are starting the fun a little early with Bantha Tracks #0.

The eight-page full-color special IMAX edition Bantha Tracks #0 will feature the striking new Episode II IMAX poster (stay tuned to for this one) on the cover, suitable for display after you've checked out the entertaining articles and special offers inside.

Bantha Tracks #0 will be made available free exclusively to theater-goers at participating IMAX theaters during Attack of the Clones' IMAX opening weekend starting November 1, while supplies last. will have more details on availability soon.

Posted: by Jedi Power

Thursday October 10, 2002
IMAX Theater List

The Official Star Wars Site has posted a list of all of the theaters that have confirmed bookings for Attack of the Clones on IMAX, which will start November 1, 2002. Additional theaters will be added as arrangements are finalized. Click here for the list!

Posted: by Jedi Power

Monday October 7, 2002
Homing Beacon #70

The latest Homing Beacon has arrived, and today we get to talk about Padmé Amidala! Senator, activist, warrior, secret newlywed -- Padmé Amidala keeps a schedule as busy as Natalie Portman does, not that the young actress minds.

"I'm in school during term time, I make movies in the summer, then I do publicity on the weekends," she explains. "It's not that difficult. I love going to school and all my school friends are great. They're not at all jealous or intimidated. A couple of them came to visit me [on set]. I need to be surrounded by friends as well as work people. We had a lot of fun in Sydney."

"Fun" is Portman's one-word summary of Episode II, soon to be available on DVD. Freed from the cumbersome makeup and stately wardrobe of Episode I, Portman delights at Padmé's more aggressive actions in Attack of the Clones. Sure, she got to storm her own palace in Menace, but that's nothing compared to fighting alongside Jedi warriors and going toe-to-claw against a nasty cat creature. "I got a few small bruises and pulled muscles, but nothing serious," she says.

Yet through it all, Padmé Amidala remained well coiffed and fully accessorized. "That makes me laugh," she admits. "A lot of the time, Padmé is running around without her assistants, but she always has amazingly flamboyant hair. She must be very skilled at styling it herself."

Another perk of Episode II is that for once, Portman gets to play the older woman in a romantic scenario. "It's about time, isn't it? After Leon and Beautiful Girls, I kept being made out as this 'Lolita' character, and now I get to be the cradle-robber," she laughs.

She also chuckles at the rumors alleging an off-screen relationship with co-star Hayden Christensen. "I'm now the envy of little girls everywhere, which is better than being perceived as a bad person who robs stores or something," she says. "There are much worse rumors people could make up about you."

What is true is that she swiped an Anakin-related memento from the set; she now owns one of the Padawan's braids used in the film. "There were like 12 of them so I knew one wouldn't be missed."

Knowing that young girls around the world are watching Padmé Amidala with a twinkle of heroism in their eyes, Portman switches to a more serious gear when discussing her alter ego as a role model. "I hope she has elements that young girls would aspire to," she says. "She's a leader, she's idealistic and a good human being who has compassion for others. Plus she's not corrupted by politics; she takes care of herself and she's vulnerable to love -- which everyone is."

Portman's commitment to her educational pursuits would make good role model material as well. "It is important for me to be the most rounded human being I can possibly be and to learn as much as I can learn," she says. "For me, school and college have helped me understand myself better and given me the tools to live a full life and grow as a person."

Posted: by Jedi Power

Tuesday September 24, 2002
AOTC DVD Deleted Scenes

The Official Star Wars Site has a great provided the "Official" word on what deleted scenes we can expect to see on the Episode II DVD! Some of the most popular extras on DVDs are deleted scenes, sequences shot for the film but discarded from the final edit for various reasons. They not only provide insight into the editorial process, but also sometimes help fill out details of character and plot.

Residing on disc-two of the upcoming Attack of the Clones DVD are eight deleted scenes. Viewers will have the option of just watching the scenes themselves, or watching brief introductions by Writer-Director George Lucas, Producer Rick McCallum and Editor Ben Burtt, explaining why the scenes were cut.

  • Here's a run-down of what will be available on November 12:
  • Padmé Addresses the Senate.
  • Jedi Temple Analysis Room.
  • Obi-Wan & Mace - Jedi Landing Platform.
  • Extended Arrival on Naboo.
  • Padmé's Parents' House.
  • Padmé Bedroom.
  • Dooku Interrogates Padmé.
  • Anakin and Padmé on Trial.

Now if I only had a DVD player, maybe I would get the chance to see these deleted scenes! Actually, I have not even seen the ones for Episode I yet! I need to get on the ball.

Posted: by Jedi Power

Friday September 20, 2002
Homing Beacon #69

The latest Homing Beacon has arrived, and today we get to talk about Count Dooku's Sith lightsaber! Count Dooku clearly does things his own way, but his ideology is not the only thing that sets him apart. His lightsaber handle design is unique among the Jedi weapons fans have seen to date in the saga.

The distinctive curved lightsaber first appeared in early sketches of the new Sith enemy, and this direction was later expanded with the help of Art Department Assistant Roel Robles, who brought in some of his own cultural roots to the design table.

"I started bringing in my arsenal of various Filipino swords, spears, and knives to give the Art Department a different feel than what we had before. At one point, we had a room full of artists playing with these deadly balisong (butterfly) knives before a meeting," he recalls. Robles' collection included a wide variety of blade types, but his favored weapon was the barong, which featured a curved handle to prevent weapon slippage during combat. "It looks cool, sharp and deadly," he says.

At one Art Department meeting, Design Director Doug Chiang had Robles lay out his weapons for George Lucas to inspect. "George picked out the barong, which I was really happy about not only because it was my favorite blade, but also since it was a Filipino blade, it had cultural and historical bonds. I am proud to say I was able to put a small part of my Filipino heritage into the film," says Robles.

As further inspiration to his fellow Art Department members, Robles arranged a demonstration of escrima, a Filipino martial arts employing multiple bladed weapons. He and a friend, Jonathan Soriben ("one of the best Filipino martial arts masters that I know," he says) reserved the basketball court at the Skywalker Ranch fitness center and went at it with sticks rather than knives. "So as not to scare anyone," Robles clarifies.

"When Dermot Power came up from London to work with the team, Iain McCaig encouraged me to set up a demonstration. Iain and Dermot were designing the Sith at the time, and were very impressed. They began to do more work on the Sith with escrima in mind," says Robles.

Posted: by Jedi Power

Thursday September 19, 2002
AOTC Widevision Set Update

As reported earlier, the Official Star Wars Site has announced that Topps will be producing an 80-card Episode II trading card set in Widevision format due out this November. The chase cards for the series will consist of autograph cards signed by actors featured in Episode II. To see an updated list of the autographs slated for the set and prototype picture, click here!

Posted: by Jedi Power

Wednesday September 18, 2002
AOTC IMAX version shorter!

Cinescape Home Page reports that because of the IMAX format, Attack of the Clones will lose 23 minutes from the movie. When they are doing the production work they will have to cut a few scenes here and there. It will not disrupt the overall experience.

Posted: by Arianaeirlys

Wednesday September 11, 2002
AOTC DVD Trailer

Jedinet has found that Video Detective has the trailer for the Attack of the Clones DVD. The trailer is 4 minutes long and talks about all of the features included on the DVD like the all important deleted scenes! To see the trailer, go here and click on the preview option.


Posted: by Jedi Power

Tuesday September 10, 2002
Does Barriss Offee...

This report comes from the Official Star Wars Site!
Answered by: Madame Jocasta Nu-Jedi Librarian

Does Barriss Offee survive the arena battle?

Yes, Barriss Offee did indeed survive, though she is not part of the circle of survivors seen at the end.

Posted: by Jedi Power

Monday September 9, 2002

The Official Star Wars Site has announced that November 1st look for the latest edition of Star Wars to come to an IMAX near you!!

Not only that but the movie has been remastered especially for IMAX theater so the characters and scenes will be bigger and better than ever!!

Posted: by Arianaeirlys

Saturday September 7, 2002
Homing Beacon #68

The latest Homing Beacon has arrived, and today we get to talk about the Clones! The description of the shot is deceptively simple. Queues of clone troopers receive their helmets from an armory dispenser, while Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Kaminoan guides walk by in an overhead corridor. "There are several hundred rendering layers in this shot, not including the bluescreen and miniature elements as well," reveals David Meny, a Computer Graphics Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic.

Working from concept art devised by Alexander Laurant of ILM's Art Department, this shot is rooted in reality with a number of live action elements. Firstly, footage of Ewan McGregor as Kenobi was shot on a bluescreen stage. "This element was flopped left-to-right, so that Obi-Wan's walking direction would be continuous throughout the sequence," explains Meny. "It was also shrunk significantly in the frame so that the focus would remain in the foreground."

With the live action element positioned, an animatic was created to determine correct camera lens and framing. That virtual camera data was taken to the motion control stage and miniatures of the glassy skywalk and the background dome interior were photographed in multiple passes. "These were shot with miniatures because they were static elements that could be reused for several shots in the sequence, each filmed from a slightly different angle. They also served as great bookends for the whole sequence and gave us something to match our computer graphics to," says Meny.

In the foreground are the clones, entirely computer-generated. "Since we are seeing thousands of these characters on the screen at a time, a lot of time was spent making variations in their armor." Scuffmarks and rank coloring diversify the crowd. Their movement was supplied via motion capture sessions, supplemented with some key-frame animation. The animation was divided into three portions: standing in line, picking up and donning the helmet, and walking back. "We're using the Maya software application and a particle system in Maya, to drive the performances of the characters. The particle system allows us to script when each of the characters transitions from one cycle into the next. By choreographing the performances with Maya's particle system, we can render hundreds to thousands of characters in a single shot very efficiently."

The armory, jokingly called the "bowling ball dispenser" by the artists, was a computer model. "Computer graphics were used because it was a single model that needed to be used only for this shot, and would require a lot of interaction with the digital characters," says Meny.

Pools of light, reflections, cast-shadows and layers of atmospheric haze help to blend the disparate elements together. These are rendered separately and composited together to allow for efficient tweaks of just one element.

Filling out the backgrounds are dozens of non-armored clones undergoing combat and calisthenics routines. These were less detailed computer models since in the finished film, they would appear only in the background. "Because we were seeing thousands of these models in subsequent shots, we created two different uniform colors to add some variation to the squads," explains Meny. "Twenty-nine different performances were recorded and motion-captured."

Since this was the only shot of unhelmeted yet armored clones in the movie, a CG model of a clone bearing the likeness of a young Jango (modeled from actor Bodie Taylor) was specifically designed. However, when it came time to don the helm, it became apparent that the computer artists had to fudge some of the real-world measurements. "The model of the helmet didn't actually fit on the digital Jango's head," says Meny. "His head was too large, so parts of his cheek and nose were actually poking through the helmet. The animators had to enlarge the helmet and shrink down the face slightly to so that they would actually work together and the audience wouldn't see any artifacts."

Posted: by Jedi Power

Wednesday September 4, 2002
A Meeting with Queen Jamillia

The Official Star Wars Site has a great article with Ayesha Dharker, the actress who played Queen Jamillia in Attack of the Clones. "For any kid that grew up in the 80s, Star Wars just became part of your mythology and mental landscape."

"The nice thing about being in Star Wars is that suddenly, you have all these little kids coming up to you. I've heard these crazy stories where I have these two little cousins in America. They've been telling their schoolmates that their cousin is in Star Wars. Nobody believed them, but then, everybody went off and saw the film, and now these two little kids -- who are 9 and 12 -- are signing autographs in their school! I'm really tickled by it, but I won't let it go to my head." To read this full article, be sure to click here!

Posted: by Jedi Power

Wednesday September 4, 2002
Jedi Knights & Master Key

From the The Official Star Wars Site we have a listing of the Jedi from the Geonosian battle along with what type of species they are. These will be the last of Jedi order from what we can tell so far.

Posted: by Arianaeirlys