digital visual effects (VFX)

Finished Reading Droidmaker


I finished reading Droidmaker and the second half was just as interesting as the first half!

I really liked it when the book got into the details of the three Star Wars movies!

Star Wars and Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan were unprecedented for their time and had a huge impact on the beginnings of computer generated 3D visual effects on movies.

Star Wars (IV) only had one 3D visual effect, the plans of the death star in the scene where the rebel army is planning to attack and destroy the death star, but the fact that a feature film had even one effect in 1977 was outrageously progressive for its day.

Before that, people like Loren Carpenter created computer generated short films like “Vol Libre”, but the field had been relegated to those with a fascination for the work, not because anyone (but a handful of people funding the research) thought that there was any practical or artistic use to computer generated imaging.

Even Xerox, which had researchers like Alvy Ray Smith and Ed Catmull working on very advanced pet projects for their day, dismissed the work by them because the company though that the research had no practical value.

Star Wars was the first movie to show that there WAS practical value to 3D computer imaging (besides use in the military and auto industries) and really fused the interaction between the scientists, who were researching the mathematical, programming and hardware aspects of the field, with the filmmakers and artists who desired these tools and technology to make their movies.

Another movie that was a major push forward in the computer generated visual effects field was Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. Nothing like the Genesis Effect had ever been created as realistically. Because it was created to impress Lucas, who was always aware of how the camera moved in a scene, the camera had to both look real to an audience, but also show Lucas that there was a use for such imaging in the movie world because no cinematographer could have actually gotten those images from practical models.

Additionally, the star fields were thoroughly researched from the true layout of the galaxy, creating a much more 3D realistic effect than in Star Wars as the camera moves through space.

The effects in Khan inspired Lucas in the way the artists and scientists working on the project had desired, and research continued to be funded by Lucas so that greater discoveries and accomplishments could be achieved. This has lead to advanced techniques, much more complex applications, and fully computer-generated animation feature films (like Pixar movies) that we have today.

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