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Making Magic CD-ROM Transcript

George Lucas: “Why A Special Edition?’

[talking head]

GEORGE LUCAS: Whenever you do something that’s creative, and you end up having to rush through it and finish it before it’s really completed the way you’d hope it be, it bothers you. And so, there were a lot of things in Star Wars that bothered me a great deal because they weren’t completed properly, and I’ve always wanted to have them finished and  on top of that, I had shot a scene with Jabba the Hutt which I’d cut out because I didn’t really need to have Jabba the Hutt in that movie if it were to be by itself. If I finished the other three movies, or the two movies, then it was relevant. But I didn’t know at that point that I was going to be able to finish all my movies. So all those reasons led to me wanting to complete Star Wars the way was originally intended, and the 20th anniversary gave me the opportunity to do that.

Information: “Tatooine Desert”

[Text Card]

The Tatooine desert sequence has been revamped in Star Wars Special Edition to better convey the action of an intense Imperial search. The updated sequence includes more Stormtroopers and computer-generated, or CG, Dewbacks.

Four new CG creatures were modeled for the Special Edition: Dewbacks, Male Scurriers, Female Scurriers, and the Ronto. The Scurriers and Ronto were derived respectively from the Raptor and Brontosaurus models Industrial Light and Magic created for Jurassic Park, while the Dewback was fashioned after the puppet that appeared briefly in the original film.

Animatics: “Dewback Model”

Transmission Footage – Dewback Model – May 3, 1995

TOM KENNEDY: This is a very very crude dewback.
ALEX SEIDEN: Yeah, it’s a little too long-striding for uh…
ALEX SEIDEN: …what we were thinking but…
GEORGE LUCAS: …all right. Well, it’s getting there.
ALEX SEIDEN: and we like the way that stormtrooper kind of waddles and gets thrown back and forth.
GEORGE LUCAS: Yeah. No, I like that too. The Stormtroopers, you know, in the pictures, have these big long poles…
GEORGE LUCAS: …which one might assume are used to zap the thing on the head or something.

Behind the Scenes: “Early Dewback Animatic”

Transmission Footage – Early Dewback Animatic – May 11, 1995

TOM KENNEDY: This is our first time putting everything into sequence since they did the first storyboards
[animatic plays]
GEORGE LUCAS: Let’s go back and look at that again.

Second Dewback Animatic – ????

GEORGE LUCAS: It’d probably better if he was coming toward us.
GEORGE LUCAS: You know, if he were revealed just as that guy walks right, –You don’t see him before this guy– but as he’s revealed, say, you know, about in there…
GEORGE LUCAS: Yeah, and he’s a little further away but he’s sort of coming toward us.

Information: “Mos Eisley”

[Text Card]

In the original Star Wars, the Mos Eisley Spaceport appeared much more barren than George Lucas had originally intended. In the Special Edition, matte-paintings, computer-generated creatures, and new blue-screen footage have been added to create the illusion of a full, bustling spaceport

To enhance the look of the city itself, Paul Huston created realistic matte paintings by first creating physical models of the buildings and other elements he wanted to include. Then, paying special attention to lighting, he photographed the models outdoors and modified the photographs digitally to complete the final backgrounds.

Models: “Speeder Bike Model”

Transmission Footage – Speeder Bike Model – December 19, 1994

ALEX SEIDEN: So we’ve got a couple of models here, and deal with them as they’re not painted yet, so what we’re trying to judge is to make sure there’s enough geometry here, but think about the fact that we’re going to paint in additional details and little, you know, milling lines and stuff like nicks and scrapes and dirt and stuff to make it look real.
TOM KENNEDY: These colors are only to differentiate the parts.
GEORGE LUCAS: Well, it looks good.

Models: “Ronto Model”

Transmission Footage – Ronto Model – January 24, 1995

TOM KENNEDY: We also have a model that’s been done of the large creature from Mos Eisley.
TOM KENNEDY: Doesn’t have a name yet we realized.
TOM KENNEDY: Yeah, well ’cause it’s retro of… This is from a low camera angle, and it’s a redo of the brontosaurus topology from Jurassic, if you will. So, wanted to show you here in a very rough stage because it’s being designed on-line.
GEORGE LUCAS: Yeah. No, it looks great!
TOM KENNEDY: And then we’ll have what we call a “raptor retro” next week…
TOM KENNEDY: …which is the scurrier, which does have a name. So, somewhere along the line, we’d like to stop calling it a Bronto!
TOM KENNEDY: All right…
GEORGE LUCAS: Call it a… Pinto!
STEVE WILLIAMS: A large Pinto.
GEORGE LUCAS: Take the “b” off and call it a “Ronto”.

Animatics:” Droid Walk Cycle Animatic”

Transmission Footage – Droid Walk Cycle Animatic – May 11, 1995

GEORGE LUCAS: When you build a droid, unless it’s built for a special kind of purpose… I mean, this could be built for a special kind of purpose. I mean, I don’t know. He’s got big magnets on his feet. Maybe he’s designed to walk around the outside of spaceships or something. But, naturally, when you’re building a robot–if it’s a terrestrial robot or something–it would be able to function fairly efficiently on…
ALEX SEIDEN: Right. Yeah, there’s a lot of excess motion in there that…
ALEX SEIDEN: But we figured we’d throw it at you just to…
GEORGE LUCAS: Yeah. They just can’t be too clumsy and unless they’re designed to actually be in a different environment from the one they’re in.

Behind the Scenes: “Bustling and Busy”

[talking head]

GEORGE LUCAS: Well, with Mos Eisley, that was really one of the original shots, besides the Jabba the Hutt scene, that brought me back to try to rework the movie and try to improve the special effects. ‘Cause there was a scene right when the speeder is going in– right before it gets to the bar– that the effects were very bad on it; there was a kind of a Vaseline blob that was under the speeder and you couldn’t see under the speeder, and it just looked terrible. It was one of the worst shots in the picture and it really bugged me a great deal. And on top of that, Mos Eisley was supposed to be a city, and I never really was able to shoot more than a couple streets. I had a very, very limited set in Djerba, where I shot this, and a very little bit of time to shoot it in, and so I had just a couple of shots of streets. It really was the same shot, used a couple different times, and I always wanted Mos Eisley to be a big spaceport; you know, very exotic and a lot going on.

PAUL HUSTON: If you look at the shots of Mos Eisley, the before shots, they have kind of a tranquil feel. People are just kind of moseying along, and there’s just a few people every hundred feet and if it’s a big city, it looks like the outskirts of a big city. But we’ve been able to put in enough things in there so that it’s really bustling and busy and it looks like a real center of something. There’s so much going on and you can’t really take it in the first time you see it. You have to look at it two or three times.

Behind the Scenes: “Jawas Falling Off Ronto”

[talking head]

GEORGE LUCAS: In the struggle to come up with a few jokes to allow us really to expand the sequence by 30 seconds or so, whatever it is, I came up with a shot of a speeder bike running into a Ronto with a couple of Jawas on it and Jawas falling off.

[Remote Session, undated, no Ronto in shot]

GEORGE LUCAS: If we were to carry this idea, where you had a Ronto, you have a stack of supplies on the back of it, strapped on and then you have the Jawa standing on top of the supplies, sort of riding like John Wayne would do. And then the Ronto’s harnessed, right?
GEORGE LUCAS: And the Jawa’s holding it, and maybe there could even be another Jawa riding on the back, depending on how elaborate you want to make this… So the speeder comes in, veers off, away… so it goes behind the Ronto… The Ronto is behind this car eventually, but when when the speeder heads right toward it, ’cause the guy on the speeder’s not paying attention, or maybe it’s the Jawas, I don’t know who’s at fault, but the Ronto rears back slightly on its rear legs, you know, like a horse would, it, it bolts up and goes “whoa”. When it does that, the Jawa loses his balance and then swings forward. You know, he’s holding onto the reins, so you end up with a Jawa sort of hanging in front of the Ronto, cursing at the speeder bike guy.
RICK MCCALLUM: …It’s bold!
GEORGE LUCAS: I can see that a couple of you… your eyes glazed over!

[talking head]

GEORGE LUCAS: You’re always looking for little bits of information or humor that move things along. You can’t just have a shot sit there for its own sake. You can have one shot I say, that is beautiful; “oooh isn’t that nice,” but you only get one in a sequence, so then you have to move on, and the next shot really has to have a new piece of information it. It can’t be another angle the same thing. It has to be something that reveals something.

Behind the Scenes: “Han vs Greedo”

GEORGE LUCAS: Well, the change in the Greedo scene: it’s always been a little difficult exactly how Han shoots Greedo, and what Greedo does to provoke that. And obviously, the situation was that Greedo is going to shoot Han, and Han out draws him and kills him. But in the film, it sort of appeared that Han shot him without Greedo knowing was going on, and that always bothered me. So we added a new shot– a wider shot– where you can see Greedo fire his gun and have it ricochet off the wall. And then Han shoots him. So it doesn’t look like Han shoots him cold blood. We did have some difficulty in the timing of the laser so it looks believable that Greedo could have fired the gun and then Han would have fired shortly thereafter, but still have it be far enough apart to read– for an audience to see–that there are two separate gun shots going on.

Information: “Jabba & Han”

[Text Card]

While in Mos Eisley, Han Solo was originally supposed to encounter Jabba the Hutt. However, the scene was cut for various logistical and technical reasons.

In the new sequence, a computer-generated Jabba replaces the stand-in actor originally filmed acting opposite Harrison Ford. The poor film quality in the original footage reflects twenty years of film stock degradation that had to be repaired before completing the shot.

Behind the Scenes: “Jabba The Hutt”

[talking head]

GEORGE LUCAS: Well, when I first shot the scene with Jabba the Hutt, I knew I was going to create some kind of stop-motion creature to be Jabba the Hutt. I didn’t, at that point, have a creature designed. Phil Tippett and Jon Berg were working on the picture, and they were going to come up with an idea for a character for Jabba the Hutt. I had to have somebody– an actor– play the part so Harrison had somebody to play against, so we just picked a big guy and put him in a fuzzy vest. I, at that point, felt that he may be a character somewhat like Chewbacca: a big furry character. We shot that. As we were cutting the movie, we realized relatively quickly that we didn’t have a time or the money to actually shoot that scene– that ILM was pressed way beyond what it could pull off as it was, so I had to abandon that sequence pretty early on. I had to cut back on the special effects shots and that sort of thing because ILM just couldn’t handle it. The scene with Greedo tells the same story point which is Han is wanted by a bounty hunter and that’s his motivation for taking these guys on this trip. As I came up to the 20th anniversary, I was very keen to put Jabba the Hutt in. By that time, on Jedi, we had redesigned Jabba the Hutt and we had a better better version of Jabba so that I knew exactly what Jabba looked like and how he should fit in there. And with the digital technology, I had the power, now, technologically speaking, to do it– put him in and make it be the same Jabba the Hutt that was in Return of the Jedi.

Behind the Scenes: “Jabba’s Tail”

Transmission Footage – Jabba’s Tail – June 8, 1995

GEORGE LUCAS: I love that! It’s great!
TOM KENNEDY: Good. So I guess it’s not over-the-top, eh?
GEORGE LUCAS: No. No, you can never… you can’t go over the top with this movie… believe me.

[talking head]

GEORGE LUCAS: One of the things that happened when I changed from a big furry Jabba the Hutt, to a big slug-like Jabba the Hutt, is the new design for Jabba the Hutt that had this big long tail, and he was very slug-like. So when I went to shoot the scene– the original scene with Han–  he turns and walks around Jabba the Hutt. When I put the slug-like Jabba the Hutt in there, it’s obvious that Han would have to walk over his tail in order to get to the other side. So I said to Steve and everybody, “I thought what we should try to do is is basically punch Han out, move him up, and make it look like he’s walking over his tail.” And when he does that, obviously, it would be very funny if when he steps on Jabba’s tail, Jabba reacts to that as if somebody had stepped on his tail. So I mean it’s really something that grows out of the reality of it. I mean, you have Jabba; you Han walking around him, But what would definitely happen is Han, in his character, would step on Jabba’s tail, and, you know, it would hurt.

Information: “Battle of Yavin”

[Text Card]

The original version of the final space battle, though revolutionary for its time, today reveals the limits of the ’70s era technology. In Star Wars Special Edition, computer-generated models replace motion-controlled physical models used in the original film, allowing dynamic movement closer to George Lucas’ original vision.

The sequence at the beginning of the final battle shows the Rebel Armada approaching the Death Star. This shot, redone by John Knoll in CG, now includes a total of 30 ships, the number reportedly spotted by the Empire.

Behind the Scenes: “X-wing Ship Motion”

Transmission Footage – X-wing Ship Motion – August 1, 1995

GEORGE LUCAS: …and so they’re in a constant roll, the old Jedi technique they picked up along the way, that we just invented.

[talking head]

RICK MCCALLUM: A number of years ago George sat down he told me about a vision he had about the virtual studio, and how we can all work simultaneously together, to be able to take advantage of time zones. And what happens is; because we use usually shoot Europe or around the world somewhere, what we like to do is… I will film, let’s say in Africa. I will take the footage live shot that day; we will digitize it and transmit it via satellite to the Ranch. Because there’s an eight or ten hour time difference, during the time that I’m asleep, the editors get it, George takes a look at it, it’s cut, and it’s retransmitted back to me on location. I can look at it. If there are changes that they want made, I can re-shoot those changes immediately instead of waiting for the rushes– in other words– the film to get back to London and processed and sent back to us, which we take, you know, in that particular case, five or six days. So this process of being able to communicate live, in real time, is really, I think the advent of the new way to make films.

Behind the Scenes: “Lively Dynamics”

[talking head]

GEORGE LUCAS: When I made the first film, Star Wars, not only were we making a movie– a very ambitious movie– but we were trying out technology that never been done before; especially in the space battle, where we were trying to get ships to fly against backgrounds, and we were using motion control cameras and things that just had never been done before. So part of what we were doing was a prototype of a new type of film making, and part of it was telling the story. A lot of the storytelling had to be sacrificed because of the limitations of the technology that we had at that point, which was just a brand new kind of prototype. We were inventing it as we were going, and the shots didn’t have the kind of dynamics that I was hoping it would have. Most of the new shots that we’ve created are much more lively in terms of the dynamics of the shot. The ships are bigger in frame, they move further away or they come closer and over camera. Sometimes we pan with the ships which you couldn’t do before. There’s a lot of new things that we were able to put in there that make the shots much more exciting much more sophisticated.

Behind the Scenes: ”Rebel Fleet Animatic”

Transmission Footage – Rebel Fleet Animatic – August 1, 1995

JOHN KNOLL: This is obviously you just take one– first assembly on this. The idea here was to start by just literally combining the two previous shots.

[talking head]

JOHN KNOLL: So it was kind of a nice thing to be able to turn that from from being the two shots into one– one longer shot that’s sort of telling two stories. You start looking at the the fleet. Here’s all the ships; there’s the rebel moon that they’re coming from. We follow them around and we say, “Okay that’s where they’re going. They’re going around Yavin to the Death Star.”

Behind the Scenes: “X-wing Dive Animatic”

Transmission Footage – X-wing Dive Animatic – September 18, 1995

JOHN KNOLL: For what it’s worth I’ve got the pilot– got Luke’s head– kind of turning a little bit and then looking down to match the cut there.
GEORGE LUCAS: That’s great!
JOHN KNOLL: For what it’s worth.

[talking head]

JOHN KNOLL: Now, I wanted to do a pilot figure that actually looked like the ones in the movie. You know the pilot figures that are in the motion control models that were originally shot, those are sort of modified motorcycle helmets and they don’t really look like the ones in there in the show. So, I carefully modeled one from that matched the ones that the actors are wearing, but then I needed actually a pilot figure. I needed a face in there, and coincidentally enough a couple years ago I’d gotten a 3-D scan of my head on a Cyberware digitizer. So, I thought it was entirely appropriate that I use my own head as the as the X-wing pilot. So that’s actually me as the pilot, in fact, all of the ships in the show, because I just replicated that pilot figure for all the other ships.

The Empire Strikes Back Preview

[talking head]

RICK MCCALLUM: The original shot to Cloud City was somewhat of a disappointment because there was never actually a real arrival. We see the Falcon in the clouds accompanied by cloud car escorts, and then immediately we cut to a landing. What George wanted to do, in adding to the scene, was to show more completely and dynamically in the world of Cloud City and add to the anticipation of the Falcon’s arrival. What you see here is the point of view from the Falcon following the cloud car, and then there’s this beautiful shot of the Falcon as it moves through a dense set of buildings, all of which were created in CG (computer graphics). I think it’s gonna be a really great shot.

RICK MCCALLUM: This scene, where Luke has been captured in the ice cave in Hoth, was never really as suspenseful as George wanted it to be. In the original sequence, there were only a few shots that actually established the wampa altogether. What we’ve been able to do is re-shoot and add a few more shots in the cave that show what a vile, horrid, terrible, and vicious beast this creature really was.

Return of the Jedi Preview

[talking head]

GEORGE LUCAS: Well, the Jabba palace musical number which is… was in the in Return of the Jedi… was always meant to be a large number. And, when we shot it, we ran out of time shooting, and many of the creatures that we had that were going to be in that sequence weren’t as mobile, and weren’t as articulate as we’d hoped. Therefore the scene ended up getting truncated considerably down to a little, tiny musical number. So it was one of those things that I’d always wanted– to have this musical number in the in the film– and it just didn’t end up being musical number.  It ended up being a little… a couple of bars and that was it. Before, we had Sy Snootles, and she wasn’t very articulate. She couldn’t move; her lips wouldn’t move and her eyes didn’t move. So now, we’ve got a Sy Snootles that actually moves around and is a real character. And we’ve added a Yuzzum, Joh Yowza, who is a counterpoint musically to what she is doing, and in the process of changing the music to be a little more “bluesy”– a little bit more interesting– as far as… something that’s musically more interesting… than what we had in there before. I was able to add back-up singers, more horn players, some drummers, and those kinds of things to make it much more lively and a bigger musical number.

RICK MCCALLUM: We got extremely lucky with one of the dancers, Oola. It turned out that her brother was a friend of ours and also had worked as an actor on Young Indy, and I told him about us re-shooting the number, and he said, “Well you know, my sister was in that, she played Oola, the dancer…”, and I said “Oh my god”, he said “Well you know she hasn’t changed. She’s in much better shape than she was 20 years ago, you should call her.” It was really fun to kind of cut and paste her original performance with her new performance. One side of the frame was shot 15 years ago, and then she moves through the frame and she will enter into a blue screen shot that we’ve just shot two weeks ago.

John Knoll: Battle Effects

[talking head]

JOHN KNOLL: Most of the shots that I worked on in the Special Edition were involving flying space craft, most of which take place in the space battle at the end. But there are a few other places in the film where I contributed work. There’s not a lot of really tricky cinematography in these shots– they’re mostly simple pans and simple tilts and relatively straightforward motion on the ships. And as the work began– we started cranking out these shots– George would see other shots that suddenly, now, stood out a little bit more, in context. It’s been likened to to polishing part of the car. You wipe up one dirty spot, and then suddenly this area over here that didn’t look so bad before, “Gee, this could be a little better too.” It’s difficult to find a really clean place to stop the work.

Paul Huston: Then & Now

[talking head]

PAUL HUSTON: I think my parents sort of worried whether I was gonna actually be able to support myself. Then the story changed after Star Wars came out. They were telling guys in school that if they want to come out of glue model parts on spaceships after they graduated from school, that they’d be welcome out there. This is architecture school. I spent most of my time at the computer. I spend a little bit of my time painting, a little bit of my time shooting pictures with a camera; I spent a little bit of my time making models. But the thing that’s the most fun, is to get an image and make it better, make it more interesting, make it more beautiful; take something that’s kind of part of the real world and just not quite right and turn it into something that suggests a world that’s that’s more interesting, more exciting, more beautiful. I wonder if in the future, a 3-D CG (3-dimensionsal computer graphics) film will be seen as a separate art form. I wonder if peoples’ vision will improve to the point where they can distinguish between CG images and realistic photographed images. I think some people see that way now.

John Knoll on Computers

[talking head]

JOHN KNOLL: My interest in computers was really mostly from a hobby standpoint. You know, I’d gotten into visual effects as a model maker originally, and then made a transition into motion control. so I shot on motion control cameras for a while, and then after a while, got over into computer graphics and then it grew from there. You know, I was always very interested in computers and using computers for helping accomplish tedious tasks, but I never really took computer graphics seriously until the computers got to be fast enough to really do something. I worked with IBM PC’s and Apple II computers and the early Macintoshes, but you couldn’t really do anything serious with them until around 1987.

Rick McCallum: Producer

[talking head]

RICK MCCALLUM: I started working with Lucasfilm in 1990, and we started, at that time, the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which George kind of envisioned as one of the longest and most complicated location shoots ever to be done– and it turned out that way. We shot for over four years, we shot in 25 countries. One of the most interesting things about working with George is that he is a completely, purely consummate film maker. In a lot of films that we work with– especially when we bring in new directors or directors that are very experienced– they don’t understand the technology. It takes them, usually, the whole length of the film to understand what the capabilities of the technology are. But he has not only helped create the technology, he is someone who supervises at a level so well, he knows exactly what he wants, but he also knows how little of it he can get away with. I feel like I’m the kind of general that has to get all the troops together to be able to resolve the issue that the President of the United States wants done.

LucasArts Credits

Q: Everyone is curious to know whether or not George is going to direct any of the new movies.

RICK MCCALLUM: It’s funny you should say that because I just had breakfast of them this morning and he has finally agreed that he is going to direct the first one, categorically. There’s no misunderstandings about that. He will direct the very first Star Wars. In fact, I think you guys are just about ready to interview him. I think it would be good idea for you to ask him.

GEORGE LUCAS: Everybody always wants to know whether I’m going to direct one of the new Star Wars, and I don’t know whether I’m gonna direct one of the new Star Wars or not. I mean, when we get there we’ll find out.

RICK MCCALLUM: But he has agreed to do it…

GEORGE LUCAS: I may direct one of the new Star Wars…

RICK MCCALLUM: and I’ve let everybody know and everybody’s thrilled to death about it.

GEORGE LUCAS: …but if I did, I’d only do one of them. I wouldn’t do them all.

Press Materials: Skywalker Sound (Ben Burtt Interview)


August 23, 1996

Q: What did we do on the new release of STAR WARS?

A: Since the film was being enhanced visually, we also decided that we could go back and re-master the sound in the film to update it to today’s digital standards. Although the original STAR WARS was presented in stereo, the technology has greatly improved theaters because of the advent of digital sound and the THX program. We felt that we could take the good soundtrack that STAR WARS had originally and enhance it, add to it, wrap it around the theater, and add low frequencies so there is more rumble. We recorded the distortion and re-recorded spots that were technically inferior when compared to today’s standards. We remastered the sound in the 5.1 digital formal, which is what most of the best theaters are capable of playing nowadays.

The original mix of STAR WARS was done 20 years ago at Goldwyn Studios and it was the first stereo sound that most of the people working on the film had ever done. We were blundering our way along at that time, trying to figure the best way to use stereo both creatively and technically. Although the results were very good for its day (and we are still proud of it), we felt that we could improve the sound a bit and add more to it.

When STAR WARS was originally released, there were three different mixes and three different versions of the film out there on the market. Each mix was done at a different time and, consequently, the results were different. There were differences in dialog from one version to another, because George had a different idea about something, and we changed a line of dialog or two, re-looped a character, changed a Stormtrooper’s voice, or gave Threepio an extra line to explain something that wasn’t in another version. Over the years, people have noticed these differences and discrepancies. Some of them show up in mono prints that were made up for airline use. Some of them got into early video releases but then later video releases were done from a different mix so it was still different again! So there has always been a legacy of variation in the soundtrack of STAR WARS. It has created a bit of folklore because some people will say they heard one version and somebody else heard a different one and they argue over which is the definitive version.

What I tried to do was collect all the different data, look at all the different versions, and put together [in this new Special Edition] all the materials that were ever in any of the mixes. If there was an extra line of dialog or a change in sound effects, it is here in this new mix. I still had a list of notes which George had given me 20 years ago of things, if we had time, to fix and put in the film. I still had that piece of paper so we went and made those changes. There wasn’t time in the original release to do that. Also, at the time of release, some of the special effects in the film were incomplete. Even after releasing better negatives for some shots that were created by ILM and inserted into the prints (which included lasers firing out of ships that we never recorded sound for) I went back and corrected those.

We got the original four-track mix which is left, center, right, and surround. That particular mix is what we heard in the theater while we mixed the movie, but that was not the mix that went out to theaters. In those days we had to make a copy of that mix and then make another copy of it. As a result, you had a lot of degradation when you made copies, kind of like a bad photocopy of something. So what we got into the theaters, although it was still very good, didn’t really represent how good it sounded in the original mix theater. We were able to rectify that problem by going back to this original 4-track master and cleaning it up and transferring it digitally. Thus the quality of sound that goes on a release print is identical and un-degraded when compared to the original.

In the original STAR WARS, we had a mono surround track. This fed speakers around the back of the theater or the sides. It was just monaural, that is, the same sound is in every speaker. Nowadays, we have right surrounds and left surrounds. So we re-did the surrounds completely, adding new material that was never there and giving an enhanced spatial effect throughout. Spaceship sound can now go over your head and into one corner, whatever corner you want it to be. We were able to sub-woof new material [that means add real low deep frequencies that shake your body] during explosions and spaceship pass-bys and that sort of thing.

And of course, there were the new scenes that were never in the film, and to actually insert those into the old mix requires a form of surgery. You have to cut into the old sound and carefully put this new sound in and make a transition into the new sound such that you don’t hear a bump or drop-out. In particular, we had a new scene with Jabba the Hutt which needed to be inserted into the old material. We had only the original track of Harrison Ford’s dialog from the shooting session 20 years ago. At that time, he spoke with an actor who spoke English [the actor who played Jabba the Hutt]. That actor was erased visually and we, of course, erased his sound and then put in a new Jabba voice.

We had some fun doing sound for Jabba moving because he is a big fat space slug who slithers across the floor. I went onto the foley stage and filled up a garbage can full of wet towels. With them, I was able to produce a very smushy, squishy sound for Jabba the Hutt as he slithers around and gesticulates in his conversation with Han Solo.

There were many moments in the film in which I added new material: extra lasers, new laser ricochets, and on occasion, enhanced a lot of explosions to make them bigger and have more punch and more of a visceral effect on the audience.

Gary Summers did he is best to adjust the quality of the dialog so that it was as clear as possible and as pleasing to the ear. A lot of the original recordings made on the set of STAR WARS 20 years ago were not all that good. The looping was only moderately well done in the original film in terms of its technical quality, and so Gary had quite a job: to do his best to iron out the technical imperfections in a lot of the dialog in the film. But, he was able to improve, and in some instances, negate, the problems.

New scenes were added. For instance, there was an old scene cut out of the original film where Luke is reunited with Biggs, a fellow from Luke’s home planet who ends up being one of the pilots flying in the Death Star trench run at the end of the movie. Luke and Biggs have a reunion, and that scene was put back into the movie with required new sound effects, background sounds, and footsteps.

We re-mixed portions of the film where we felt that we could do a lot better than what had been in the original mix. We might dive in and do some recording for a few seconds or a minute or two in order to straighten out some old problems, but by and large, we used the original mix as the backbone for the Special Edition. We didn’t have much choice because the original mix: the dialog, the music, and the sound effects, were all combined into one recording. We couldn’t separate sound effects from music or dialog in order to make a change or treat any one of them separately. We had to live with the composite mix as it was.

We were pleased to find that the aesthetics of the original mix held up very well. We were very impressed. STAR WARS, of course, has been frequently imitated, and many films have derived from it their approach to sound effects and sound design. We were all pleasantly surprised and proud to find out that the original track was very articulate, well orchestrated, and colorful.

It was good to go back and see how well it really worked, and to get a fresh look at it as we did with the Special Edition. We have upgraded it and put in some new ideas and thinking. It is now ready for exposure to the public. It will be exciting to see if this milestone film can captivate a whole new generation of fans.

This is Ben Burtt saying, so long.

Press Materials: Industrial Light & Magic (Interesting Facts)



Four of the models were new creatures:

  • Dewback
  • Scurrier (Female)
  • Scurrier (Male)
  • Ronto

Seven were existing characters:

  • C3PO
  • Obi Wan
  • Luke Skywalker
  • Jabba the Hutt
  • Jawa
  • R2D2
  • Stormtrooper

Two were new vehicles:

  • Imperial Lander
  • Speeder Bike

Five were existing vehicles:

  • Landspeeder
  • Millennium Falcon
  • TIE fighter
  • X-wing
  • Y-wing

Two were new droids:

  • Probe Droid
  • Thin Droid or A.S.P.

John Knoll created:

  • Yavin planet
  • Deathstar (3 different views)
  • Deathstar gun turret
  • and the TIE fighter, X-wing and Y-wing


  • ILM worked on a total of 99 shots and counting.
  • There were 5 CRI replacementsThese were to replace shots where the filmstock was starting to deteriorate.
  • The Dewback models were based on the original puppet.
  • John Knoll is the pilot in five CG spacecraft.He used a scan of his head and put it into the shots he worked on.
  • Many of the textures on the new models were made from photographs of the old models.
  • John Knoll added ships to a shot so total number of ships is 30. This matches the 30 ships mentioned later in the film’s dialog.
  • The wires in the shot of the Millennium Falcon leaving Mos Eisley–which we removed in the Special Edition–are real telephone wires from the town in Tunisia where the original shot was filmed.
  • The speeder bike rider was affectionately referred to as Bubba Fett during his creation.
  • There are 28 optical transitions in the original Star Wars.
  • The vice president in charge of post production of Fox, Ted Galiano, is a stormtrooper in the new Tatooine Dunes scene.
  • Most of the new shots required some computer-generated grain, or haze to be added in, unlike the old days when the film crew used nylon netting to create haze.

Press Materials: Lucasfilm Ltd. (Special Edition Announcement)

For Immediate Release

Contact: Lynne Hale


To celebrate twenty years of STAR WARS, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox will release the STAR WARS TRILOGY SPECIAL EDITION in theatres around the world in 1997. The Special Edition of STAR WARS, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and RETURN OF THE JEDI will feature previously unreleased footage, new digital special effects, and a digitally remastered soundtrack.

The recent breakthroughs in computer graphics developed by Industrial Light and Magic have been used by George Lucas to create moving, breathing creatures as well as a host of new vehicles and Droids. Lucas states, “It’s been great fun to bring the Trilogy closer to my original vision without the technological constraints I experienced when I originally made the film.”

The technology has allowed Lucas to add and revise several scenes in each of the movies, including the scene in STAR WARS in which Han Solo confronts Jabba the Hutt, filmed in 1976 but not included in the original film.

Tom Sherak, Senior Executive Vice President of Twentieth Century Fox, states, “These films were made for the big screen. They are the ultimate experience, and we want to make sure that audiences get the best presentation possible. For that reason, we plan to book the films into as many theatres with THX and digital sound as possible. Audiences should be able to experience the Trilogy the way George Lucas intended.”

Peter Chernin, Chairman of Twentieth Century Fox, comments, “We wanted to give the new generation of children – and their parents – the chance to experience STAR WARS on the big screen. The twentieth anniversary year seemed the perfect time.”

Production of the Trilogy Special Edition is under way at Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound.

Twentieth Century Fox is primarily engaged in the financing, development, production, distribution, and marketing of motion pictures throughout the world and is a unit of Fox Inc.

Press Materials: THX (THX Theater Program Announcement)

THX Theatres

The THX Program was born out of George Lucas’ desire to create the ultimate theatre experience. This means clearly hearing all of the rich elements that comprise a film soundtrack, as well as seeing a bright and correctly projected picture. In 1980, Lucasfilm hired Tomlinson Holman, a well-known designer in the audio industry, to build a world-class post-production facility for the company in preparation for the making of Return of the Jedi. After examining the entire film sound process, from recording on the set to playback in the theatre, Holman and Lucasfilm engineers developed a new theatre sound system consisting of a unique combination of loudspeakers integrated with specific room acoustics that affect the actual design and construction of the theatre.

THX theatres provide several important advantages for movie-goers:

  • Wide frequency range covering the lowest to the highest audible sounds
  • Smooth frequency response over the range
  • Sound that reaches every seat in the auditorium more uniformly
  • Unsurpassed dialogue intelligibility, allowing audiences to understand what the performers are saying
  • The ability to hear the full dynamic range, from the softest whisper to the loudest explosion, without distortion

Today, with installations in more than 1400 theatres and mixing stages around the world, the THX Sound System is the premium standard for quality film presentation.

Production Crew Then & Now: Star Wars

Steve Gawley

Began in 1978 as a Model Builder.
Today, Steve continues to work at ILM as a Model Project Supervisor.

Paul Huston

Began in 1978 as a Model Builder.
Today, Paul continues to work at ILM as a Digital Matte Artist.
1993 Emmy Award for Highest Achievement in Visual Effects as Digital Matte Artits for the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

Dennis Muren

Began in 1978 as an Effects Director of Photography.
Today, Dennis continues to work at ILM as Sr. Visual Effects Supervisor.
Academy Awards/Visual FX:
1980 Empire Strikes Back
1982 ET
1983 Return of the Jedi
1984 Temple of Doom
1987 Innerspace
1989 The Abyss
1991 Terminator 2
1993 Jurassic Park

Bruce Nicholson

Began in 1978 as an Optical Camera Assistant.
Today, Bruce continues to work at ILM as a Visual Effects Supervisor.
Academy Awards/Visual FX:
1980 The Empire Strikes Back
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark

Lorne Peterson

Began in 1978 as a Model Builder.
Today, Lorn continues to work at ILM as a Visual Effects Supervisor.

Production Crew Then & Now: The Empire Strikes Back

Charlie Bailey

Began in 1979 as a Model Maker.
Today, Charlie continues to work at ILM as a Model Project Supervisor.

Patty Blau

Began in 1979 as a Production Secretary.
Today, Patty continues to work at ILM as Executive in Charge of Production.

Michael Bolles

Began in 1978 as a Design Engineer.
Today, Michael continues to work at ILM as an Optical Engineer.

Dave Carson

Began in 1979 as a Model Maker.
Today, Dave continues to work at ILM as a Visual Effect Supervisor.

Dick Dova Spah

Began in 1980 as a Stage Technician.
Today, Dick continues to work at ILM as a Key Grip.

Bob Finley Jr.

Began in 1989 as a Stage Technician.
Today, Bob continues to work at ILM as Head Stage Pyrotechnician.

Edward Hirsch

Began in 1979 as a Stage Technician.
Today, Edward continues to work at ILM as a Stage Manager.

James Lim

Began in 1979 doing Optical Line-Up.
Today, James continues to work at ILM as Senior Printer Operator.

Dennis Muren

Began in 1978 as an Effects Director of Photography.
Today, Dennis continues to work at ILM as Sr. Visual Effects Supervisor.
Academy Awards/Visual FX:
1980 Empire Strikes Back
1982 ET
1983 Return of the Jedi
1984 Temple of Doom
1987 Innerspace
1989 The Abyss
1991 Terminator 2
1993 Jurassic Park

Ken Smith

Began in 1979 in Optical.
Today, Ken continues to work at ILM as Optical Supervisor.

Michael Mackenzie

Has been working as an Electronic Engineer at ILM since 1979.
1994 Academy Award:
Scientific and Engineering Acheivement for Development of linear array CCD film input scanning systems.

Udo Pampel

Began in 1979 as a Machinist.
Today, Udo continues to work at ILM as a Chief Machinist.

Tom Rosseter

Began in 1979 in Optical Line-Up.
Today Tom continues to work at ILM as a Digital Compositor.

Production Crew Then & Now: Return of the Jedi

Barbara Affonso

Began in 1982 as a Model Maker.
Today, Barbara continues to work at ILM as Model Project Supervisor.

Lance Brackett

Began in 1982 as a Stage Technician.
Today, Lance continues to work at ILM as an Electric Shop Manager.

Marty Brenneis

Began in 1979 as an Electronic Engineer.
Today, Marty continues to work at ILM as a Camera Engineer.

Chrissie England

Began in 1977 as an Administrative Staff Member.
Today, Chrissie continues to work at ILM as a Visual Effects Producer.

Scott Farrar

Began in 1981 as an Effects Cameraman.
Today, Scott continues to work at ILM as a Visual Effects Supervisor.
1985 Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects for Cocoon.

Bob Finley III

Began in 1979 as a Stage Technician.
Today, Bob continues to work at ILM as Head Stage Technician.

Patrick Fitzsimmons

Began in 1980 as a Stage Technician.
Today, Patrick continues to work at ILM as Supervising Stage Technician.

Joe Fulmer

Began in 1982 as a Stage Technician.
Today, Joe continues to work at ILM as a Gaffer.

William George

Began in 1981 as a Model Maker.
Today, William continues to work as a Commercial Director.
1988 Academy Award for Visual Effects: Innerspace.
1986 Emmy for Visual FX for Art Direction in Ewoks: Battle for Endor.

MIchael Gleason

Began in 1982 as an Assistant Visual Effects Editor.
Today, Michael continues to work at ILM as Senior Visual Effects Editor.

Robert Hill

Began in 1981 as an Assistant Cameraman.
Today, Robert continues to work at ILM as 1st Asst. Camera Operator.

Paula Karsh

Began in 1981 as an Administrative Staff Member.
Today, Paula continues to work at ILM as a Purchasing Manager.

Bill Kimberlin

Began in 1982 as a Visual Effects Editor.
Today, Bill continues to work at ILM as Visual Effects Editorial Supervisor.

Kim Marks

Began in 1982 as an Assistant Cameraman.
Today, Kim continues to work at ILM as Visual Effects Director of Photography.

Randy Ottenberg

Began in 1983 as a Model Maker.
Today, Randy continues to work at ILM as a Senior Model Maker.

Michael Owens

Began in 1981 as an Effects Cameraman.
Today, Michael continues to work at ILM as a Visual Effects Supervisor.

Pat Sweeney

Began in 1981 as an Assistant Cameraman.
Today, Pat continues to work at ILM as Visual Effects Director of Photography.

Production Crew: Special Edition

Charlie Bailey

Works at ILM as a Model Project Supervisor.

John Berton

Works at ILM as a Computer Graphics Supervisor.

David Deuber

Works at ILM as Computer Graphics 2-D Compositor.

Patrick Fitzsimmons

Works at ILM as Supervising Stage Technician.

John Foreman

Works at ILM as Model Maker.

Joe Fulmer

Works at ILM as a Gaffer.

Howard Gersh

Works at ILM as a Computer Graphics Technical Director.

Ed Hirsch

Works at ILM as a Stage Manager.

Paul Huston

Works at ILM as a Digital Matte Artist.

Tom Kennedy

Works at ILM as Visual Effects Producer.

John Knoll

Works at ILM as a Visual Effects Supervisor.

Joe Letteri

Works at ILM as a Computer Graphics Supervisor.

Stu Maschiwitz

Works at ILM as a Computer Graphics Technical Director.

Richard Miller

Works at ILM as a Model Maker.

Mark Moore

Works at ILM as an Art Director.

Dennis Muren

Works at ILM as Sr. Visual Effects Supervisor.

Michael Olague

Works at ILM as a Gaffer.

Lorne Peterson

Works at ILM as a Visual Effects Supervisor.

Josh Pines

Works at ILM as Scanning Supervisor.

Alex Seiden

Works at ILM as a Co-Visual Effects Supervisor.

Yusei Uesugi

Works at ILM as a Digital Matte Artist.

Bruce Vecchitto

Works at ILM as Optical Supervisor.

Tim Waddy

Works at ILM as a Computer Graphics Technical Director.

Steve Williams

Works at ILM as a Visual Effects Supervisor.


Published by doubleofive

Curator of Star Wars Visual Comparisons, webmaster for Star Wars Revisited, former co-host of Standard Orbit podcast, all around nerd.

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