The FX Behind Anakin's Pod-Racing Scenes
Lucasfilm, one of the world's leading film and entertainment companies, and Prime Focus, the global visual entertainment services company, are proud to announce their collaboration on the 3D conversions of Star Wars: Episode I - III, heralding an exciting new era in Star Wars entertainment. Prime Focus was selected by Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) following an exhaustive testing process.
Every film in the franchise aims to bring new, visceral iconography to the mythology of the Star Wars universe. Episode One contributed more than its expected quota, with the pod-racing becoming an instant legend.
Prime Focus is a global leader in 3D conversion and VFX, and has delivered work on films such as Avatar, Shrek, Tron: Legacy, Narnia: Dawn Treader and most recently Sucker Punch. Deploying its global View-D™ conversion team on the Star Wars project, led out of the Prime Focus Hollywood office, artists in Los Angeles, London and Mumbai are delivering shots via Prime Focus' Global Digital Pipeline. In collaboration with ILM, the meticulous conversion is being completed with the utmost respect for the source material, and with a keen eye for both technological considerations and artistic intentions.
Utilizing Prime Focus' proprietary View-D™ process, the cutting-edge conversion of Episode I hit 3D theater screens on February 10, 2012. Involving meticulous crafting and attention to detail by Prime Focus' global team of artists, the 3D release delivered a wonderfully immersive experience for fans of the original, and a big screen introduction for a whole new generation.
Their work brought Anakin’s childhood experiences to life in a way which both impressed on first viewing and which will last for the next generation. Star Wars FX are perhaps given more scrutiny than other franchises due to the longevity of the movies.
"It was incredibly important to me that we have the technology, the resources and the time to do this right," said Star Wars creator George Lucas. "I'm very happy with the results I've been seeing on Episode I."
Prime Focus founder and CEO Namit Malhotra said: "Wherever you are in the world, the Star Wars films have become part of the very fabric of film-making - the epitome of the big cinema experience. To be chosen by Lucasfilm as a trusted partner, and to be given the time and opportunity to re-present this series as a new experience to both old and new audiences alike, is an incredible honor. For a project of this importance and magnitude, Lucasfilm and ILM would only have chosen a company with the best talent in the industry, leading proprietary technology and infrastructure, a production-proven pipeline and unmatched scale. I am hugely proud that Prime Focus is that company."
At 2012’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas, George Lucas – along with James Cameron and Jeffery Katzenberg – attended a panel to discuss “The Digital World of Filmmaking: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond.” In an illuminating discussion, covering topics ranging from shooting at faster frame rates and the difference this makes to the movie-going experience (Cameron) to scalable multi-core processing and the effect that this will have on the render-times of animators and the way they work (Katzenberg), the trio gave the audience a fascinating glimpse into what is coming next for the movie industry. The conversation naturally also encompassed conversion, and George Lucas took the opportunity to discuss the conversion of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, which is currently being undertaken by Prime Focus.
The extensive conversion process for Episode I was completed under the close supervision of John Knoll, Visual Effects Supervisor for ILM.
"Getting really good results from stereo conversion requires a lot of attention to detail and it is imperative that you take the time to get it right – and that's just what we're doing," said Knoll. "We're taking a different approach than you might expect. George's vision has been to add dimension to the film in subtle ways. This isn't a novelty conversion, with things jumping out at the audience; our goal has been to enhance the classic Star Wars theatrical experience, utilizing the latest cinematic tools and techniques."