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Old May 13 2010, 08:49 AM   #1
Sokar
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Default How Star Wars changed the Film Industry, my media research project

Hi,

I thought I'd post a essay I did for Uni, to early know my grade on this essay, but I've had some feedback from people in a community which is relevant to the topic of the essay.

A nice bit of "lite" reading at 3616 words.

Just be glad this isn't my 3rd year essay, that word count is 8,000.

How Star Wars Changed the Film Industry

Introduction

For this assignment, I will discuss how one film changed the world of film making forever.

I will discuss how 3 directors lives were changed by Star Wars.

I will also discuss how Star Wars affected 2 companies, one that was formed in the process of making of the film, and the other afterwards.

I will also discuss how Star Wars helped with the creation of one digital imaging program, and the development of the Non-Linear Editing Software.

In this history of how Star Wars changed the film industry, there are two dates that are very important, aside from the birth of George Lucas, the director.

The first date, is 12 June 1962, While it may seem as if nothing happened of note, on this date, it changed the life of the then teenager George Lucas.

On this day, George Lucas, was racing his Fiat Bianchina against a friend, who ended up flipping George’s car several times before it crashed into a tree, being thrown out of the (Ravalli).

It’s always said that as long as you wear your seat belt, it will save your life. In this case, it would have been quite the opposite. If his seat belt had not broken and thrown him free he would have died, though he did have some serious injuries.

As he is quoted as saying on the filmmaker website. (filmmakers.com, 2007): “You can’t have that kind of experience and not feel there must be a reason why you’re here. I realised I should be spending my time trying to figure out what that reason is and trying to fulfil it.”

The second date that of importance was Wednesday, 25th of May 1977, when Star Wars was premiered. The success of one film had such a profound effect on the film industry world wide, that had it not been a success or not happened at all, the film industry would very different from what it is today.

That film was Star Wars.

Prior to Star Wars coming out, a lot of the film’s that came out, we’re a mixture of westerns, romance, horror, action, disaster movies, with some science fiction and dramas (BBC). Prior to Star Wars, while there had been some successful science fiction films, 2001: A Space Odyssey, none had the reaction that Star Wars received.

Directors

James Cameron

The influence Star Wars had on James Cameron is probably one of the biggest, considering the films he has directed.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), James Cameron says: “I got really energised by Star Wars, in fact I quit my job as a truck driver, and said if I’m going to do this, I better get going.” Further into the documentary, James Cameron also said: “I was like, damn it, somebody else did it, but at the same it was like yes, it’s possible.” He was commenting on the success of Star Wars.

In an interview for the website, Academy of Achievement (Academy of Achievement, 2007), he was asked: “Was there a moment when light Bulb went on and you said, “That’s what I want to do. I want to be a filmmaker. I want to be a director.”

In the interview James Cameron replied: “There were several light bulbs at several different times and the first one was when I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time. And the light bulb was, “You know, a movie can be more than just story telling. It can be a piece of art.”

When you look at James Cameron’s entries on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), there is not a production credit listed for him, till 1978.

The effect that Star Wars had on James Cameron, is very clear and had the film not been success, or made, a lot of great films might either not have been made either, for example the recent hit Avatar, or they may have been directed by a different director, and would have looked completely different.

Ridley Scott

The influence that Star Wars had on director Ridley Scott, is another example of how one film can change someone’s career.

According to Ridley Scott’s IMDB page, (Internet Movie Database), prior to Star Wars, he has a long list of film adverts, with credits for many different roles in the production of film. But none of the films were in the genre of science fiction.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), Ridley Scott said, “I basically said to my producer, I don’t know what we’re doing, this guy is making Star Wars, I’m not even in the same universe, I’m not even in the same century.” Later on in the documentary he also said, “I was kind of stunned, I was depressed actually” in reaction to the success of Star Wars.

Ridley Scott’s next film was the first Alien film, and as he says in the documentary, that he took a lot of inspiration from the Star Wars film, in the fact that he gave the universe the “used” look, instead of everything being spick and span, fresh off the construction line.

Towards the end of the documentary Ridley Scott also said: “Turned me around 180 degrees, as to what I felt I should be doing, and what’s interesting the next film I made was Alien”.

Peter Jackson

The influence that Star Wars had on Director Peter Jackson was not as immediate, as it was with Ridley Scott and James Cameron.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), Peter Jackson says: “Going to Star Wars was one of the most exciting experiences that I’d had in my life, not just movies, but in my life at that time.”

Later on in the documentary, Peter Jackson said: “It legitimised the way we were, and who we were, and I could go home from school in the evening, and make spaceships out of cardboard tubes and model kits.”

Also in the documentary, Peter Jackson said when talking about the ‘used’ universe that had been presented in Star Wars: “It certainly affected us, Lord of the Rings has an ethos, which is very much based on Star Wars, which is make everything believable, everything a bit dirty, a little bit run down, worn down, because that realism is the first building block towards making a connection with the characters. “

In the closing credits of the documentary, Peter Jackson gave a tribute to what Star Wars did for film makers: “This first time that I had a concept that film-makers like George Lucas were shy, retiring people and the type of kids that didn’t have girl friends, weren’t picked for the sports team, and this was like me, and I was living thousands of miles away, but I could recognise so much of myself off what I was reading about this guy who made Star Wars, George Lucas, you know the media were full of how shy and quite he was, and yet it gave all of us who we felt were similar, it gave us a lot of hope, that we could persevere, and could achieve the sort of things he achieved.”

While looking at Peter Jackson’s IMDB page (IMDB), it is easy to see that with the list of films to his credit, and the fact he lives in New Zealand, that if it had not been for Star Wars, he may not have become a film-maker, and we would not have had films like Lord of The Rings, or if the films had been made, they might have been directed and produced by someone else.

History

The effect that Star Wars had on the visual effects, has to be the largest. A lot of what we take for granted these days, while it may have happened, they may not have been developed as quickly.

In the years and decades before Star Wars, there had always been visual effect in films, but compared to what can be produced today, they were very simple.

By looking at the Milestones in Visual Effects/Special Effects and Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) article (Dirks), you can clearly see the progression of visual effects, and see how after each film the techniques involved were improved upon.

One of the ground breaking visual effects films that came out before Star Wars, was the 1968 film 2001: Space Odyssey. Its use of motion control cameras was ground breaking.

After 2001, while there were films made with visual effects, not many of them had visual effects that had an impact.

There were also some films that had some very basic computer generated imagery, such as The Andromeda Strain (1971), Westworld (1973), Futureworld (1976). While the CGI was very basic compared to what we see today, it was groundbreaking.

As stated on starwars.com’s History of Industrial Light and Magic (starwars.com, 1999): “When it came time to tackle the extensive special effects essential to the story the young film maker wanted to tell, Lucas looked around for special effects workshops – only discover that they didn’t exist anymore.”

In the previous 15 years, special effects had almost completely disappeared from cinema, with a few exceptions such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

George Lucas had to put together his own team, to create the special effects, and create the equipment that would allow them to create the types of shots that George was looking for.

The biggest challenge that they faced, was being able to create a system where they could film a model of a space ship, and then repeat it over and over. Today with modern computers this is easy, but back then the computers were very basic, and they had to be programmed, and they were very big compared to today’s machines.

What they came up with, was a motion control system, This was not a new technology, since it had been used in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but with the help of John Dykstra, they developed a computer controlled version called Dykstraflex.

One of the most memorable visual effects sequence from the film that was produced on the Dykstraflex is one that everyone asked agreed.

The sequence in question is the opening sequence where the rebel ship comes in from above, followed by the Imperial Star Destroyer (though at the time called cruiser).

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), several of the directors said that one sequence helped them decide what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.

No one had seen a shot like that before, but it has been replicated in other films.

Another memorable sequence, would be the lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, it was another example of something people had not seen before. They had seen sword fights, and in a way these are swords, even George Lucas has called them laser words occasion.

With the success of Star Wars, the visual effects industry was rejuvenated.

The years after Star Wars, saw the release of a lot of science fiction films, with varying degrees of success, film’s like Alien (1979), and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

When you look at the listing for science fiction films, prior to 1977 on IMDB, (IMDB), just in the first 50 listed movies there are only a handful of science fiction films.

But if you then look at the same page for 1977 (IMDB), the number has grown, and continues to do so.

If Star Wars had not been a success, and had not even happened, the world of visual effects would be a very different world, with the industry having either completely died out, or at some later point been revived, it is hard to say precisely how long it would have taken before, the visual effects reached the point it is at today.

Companies

Pixar

The influence of Star Wars and Pixar is probably one the largest, and if Star Wars had not happened a lot of the computer animated films that have come out over the years would not have done either.

The very earliest roots of Pixar were formed at Industrial Light and Magic, which started in 1979 when George Lucas brought Ed Catmull and associates from the New York Institute of Technology (Funding Universe), though the division that later became known as Pixar, was not named until 1986, when George Lucas sold the division to Steve Jobs.

From reading the history in Tom Hornby’s article (Hormby, 2006), a lot of the people who worked with Ed Catmull at NYIT, that they were influenced by Star Wars, and while they were working on the technology. If Star Wars hadn’t been the success it was, then it may well have been some years before, the company was formed, even though As the article says, though they had been producing visuals prior to Star Wars, they were looking for more funding.

Having met with George Lucas and gradually migrated over to the computer division that was being formed, and by 1980 the team were back together to produce the special effects for Return of the Jedi.

In 1984, the research done by the team had come a long way, but with the technology required to produce computer generated feature films still not being cost effective, and with George Lucas going through a divorce with his then wife, he put the Division up for sale.

Eventually the Division was bought by Steve Jobs, thus was born the Pixar Animation Studio, (Hormby, 2006).

While the technology that is involved with producing computer generated imagery had been in development before the success of Star Wars, if it had not been for the success there might not have been the funding as quickly for Ed Catmull to be able to develop what hey were working on at NYIT.

With computer technology having turned out the way it has, it is possible that CGI, would have developed, but it is hard to say how much of a delay there would have been.

Industrial Light & Magic

Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM, as it is also known, is best known for dong the special effects for Star Wars, and according to Thomas Smith’s book Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Special Effects (Smith, 1991), the author shows the amount the work that went into producing the special effects. This highlights the problems that they had with getting the shots that were required, and just getting the equipment to work.

Given the limitation of technology at the time with costs involved, compared to the technology they have today, they had a very hard task ahead of them.

The brief history of ILM on the starwar.com website (starwars.com, 1999), tells of how George Lucas had to create his own special effects house to produce the shots he needed for the film.

In the years since, ILM has grown, winning 15 Academy Awards, (Industrial Light & Magic) as well as many nominations, and 19 Scientific and Technical Awards (Industrial Light & Magic).

In 1999, ILM luminary Dennis Muren, in was the first visual effects artist to be awarded with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (IMDB).

Looking at the filmography for ILM on their website, (Industrial Light & Magic, 2009), it is very clear that the success of Star Wars has made them one of the premier Visual Effects houses.

If Star Wars had not been a success, the exhausted crew who worked at ILM would probably have gone back to working back on their old jobs.

If Star Wars had not happened at all, who knows where the visual effects industry would be today, while people like Dennis Muren, had been working in stop frame animation, may not have had the chance to produce the type of effects they did until many years later.

Software

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is probably one of the most powerful digital manipulation programs, and while its creation cannot be directly linked to Star Wars, the story behind its development is linked.

John and Thomas Knoll developed the program that we now know as Photoshop. Thomas, who was a studying at the University of Michigan, and John and was working at Industrial Light and Magic.

While working at ILM, John was working on Image Processing, and had seen a demo of a computer called the Pixar Image computer, which was a high-end dedicated machine for doing the task.

While visiting his brother, who was working on his PhD on image processing, he told his brother about this, and Thomas told his brother about a program he was writing alongside his thesis.

This laid the foundation for a program called Display, which eventually became known as Photoshop.

As said in an on-line article on Computer Arts website, “Without the original Star Wars, there would have been no Photoshop, your job, this magazine and the entire graphics design industry would be very different from how they are today.” (Computer Arts, 2005)

In interviews with the Knoll brothers, with John (Pebler, 2008), and with both John and Thomas (National Association of Photoshop Professional, 2010), they talk about the development.

This could probably be debated, because while John was working at ILM, and having seen the Pixar Image Computer, at Pixar, as I stated above, which was a former division of ILM itself, Thomas might not have started work on Display for some time, and continued on with his thesis.

There are so many variables in the development of Display, that if just one of those variable had not worked out the way it had, the world of image editing would be very different. It is possible that someone else might have coming up with similar tools that Photoshop has, and there were already programs around that were able to do some of the things that Photoshop was doing.

EditDroid/Avid Non-Linear Editing Software

The Non-linear method of editing film, had been around for many years, but prior to Star Wars, it would involve actually cutting up the actual film and splicing it together.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), they briefly mention a NLE program that was developed by George Lucas called EditDroid.

In the book Droidmaker: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution (Rubin, 2006), the author writes about the history of EditDroid, and the creation of the software based NLE’s.

While NLE’s program were in production, and that EditDroid’s creation didn’t start till after the success of Star Wars, and without it the NLE’s we have today, might not be at the stage they are without it.

One of the most popular NLEs used in Hollywood, AVID, was being developed around the same time as EditDroid, and in Michael Rubin’s book Droid Maker (Rubin, 2006), pp469-470, by 1194, Lucas film were no longer selling EditDroid, and were looking to capitalise on the technology and patents and after investigating the AVID system as it was at that time, and another system called Lightworks. A deal was struck with Avid, which had Avid buying the underlying Droid technology, and allowing them to become the inheritor of the Lucas editing legacy.

The Avid editing software is still being used today to edit a lot of feature films, but as with the progression of technology, other NLEs have been developed. However, they all have their roots in the early systems.
`
It’s not possible to say with any certainty, that if Star Wars had not been a success, or had not happened, that the development of NLEs would not have reached the point it has, because other companies were working on NLEs, and some already had some software based solutions. But from what was written in the Droidmaker (Rubin, 2006)pp 320, that up to the point that EditDroid was being developed that some were better than others but they were restricted by the funding, and the limited scope of what the people who ran the companies could see for it.

Conclusion:

The effect that Star Wars, has had on the film industry was such that if the film had not succeeded, or even taken place, the whole film industry would be a very different place.

Many thins that we take for granted these days, thing like being able to produce computer generated imagery, would likely have happened with the way computers have developed over the years but what is to say that if George Lucas’s company hadn’t been around to help fund the research that Ed Catmull was doing, that the technology could have put on the shelf and forgotten about till the price came down, and made it more affordable.

Would James Cameron have quit his day job as a truck driver, so would we have had film like The Abyss, Terminator 1&2, Titanic, and the recent hit Avatar?

Would Peter Jackson have made his own film, and then gone on to direct the Lord of the Rings films?

Would the program that we now know as Photoshop, been developed, from the basic Display program that John and Thomas Knoll, developed while John was working at ILM, and Thomas was working on his thesis (Story, 2000)..

The list of questions of whether something or some one would have gone down the direction they took if hadn’t been of one film could go on for pages. Some of the questions will never know the answer to.

But the one thing that is certain is that the effect that Star Wars had on the film industry is something that was momentous.
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Old May 13 2010, 10:49 AM   #2
GHarris
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Default Re: How Star Wars changed the Film Industry, my media research project

Very good.

One nit. If this is for a school project, there are several incorrect spellings. The spellchecker didn't catch them, because they are actual words, just not the word you were really looking for.

GH
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Old May 13 2010, 10:52 AM   #3
Sokar
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thanks
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Old May 13 2010, 11:39 PM   #4
jube
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Default Re: How Star Wars changed the Film Industry, my media research project

Hi back, Sokar. I've corrected some spelling and grammar mistakes as highlighted in bold or with a * next to it (including reason or alternative "part" of sentence). Hope you don't mind but as GHarris said, some things needed to be fixed. I'll leave it up to you as to whether you agree with my sentiments or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sokar View Post
Hi,

I thought I'd post a essay I did for Uni, to early know my grade on this essay, but I've had some feedback from people in a community which is relevant to the topic of the essay.

A nice bit of "lite" reading at 3616 words.

Just be glad this isn't my 3rd year essay, that word count is 8,000.

How Star Wars Changed the Film Industry

Introduction

For this assignment, I will discuss how one film changed the world of film making forever.

I will discuss how 3 directors lives were changed by Star Wars.

I will also discuss how Star Wars affected 2 companies, one that was formed in the process of making of the film, and the other afterwards.

I will also discuss how Star Wars helped with the creation of one digital imaging program, and the development of the Non-Linear Editing Software.

In this history of how Star Wars changed the film industry, there are two dates that are very important, aside from the birth of George Lucas, the director.

The first date, is 12 June 1962, While it may seem as if nothing happened of note, on this date, it changed the life of the then teenager George Lucas.

On this day, George Lucas, was racing his Fiat Bianchina against a friend, who ended up flipping George’s car several times before it crashed into a tree, being thrown out of the (Ravalli).

It’s always said that as long as you wear your seat belt, it will save your life. In this case, it would have been quite the opposite. If his seat belt had not broken and thrown him free, he would have died, though he did have some serious injuries.

As he is quoted as saying on the filmmaker website. (filmmakers.com, 2007): “You can’t have that kind of experience and not feel there must be a reason why you’re here. I realised I should be spending my time trying to figure out what that reason is and trying to fulfil it.”

The second date that of importance was Wednesday, 25th of May 1977, when Star Wars was premiered. The success of one film had such a profound effect on the film industry world wide, that had it not been a success or not happened at all, the film industry would very different from what it is today.

That film was Star Wars.

Prior to Star Wars coming out, a lot of the film’s that came out, we’re a mixture of westerns, romance, horror, action, disaster movies, with some science fiction and dramas (BBC). Prior to Star Wars, while there had been some successful science fiction films, as an example* 2001: A Space Odyssey springs to mind*, none had the reaction that Star Wars received. *fixing grammar mistake but that's up to you.

Directors

James Cameron

The influence Star Wars had on James Cameron is probably one of the biggest, considering the films he has directed.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), James Cameron says: “I got really energised by Star Wars, in fact I quit my job as a truck driver, and said if I’m going to do this, I better get going.” Further into the documentary, James Cameron also said: “I was like, damn it, somebody else did it, but at the same it was like yes, it’s possible.” He was commenting on the success of Star Wars.

In an interview for the website, Academy of Achievement (Academy of Achievement, 2007), he was asked: “Was there a moment when a* light bulb went on and you said, “That’s what I want to do. I want to be a filmmaker. I want to be a director.” *not sure if this is correct so please check your quotations for correct wording.

In the interview James Cameron replied: “There were several light bulbs at several different times and the first one was when I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time. And the light bulb was, “You know, a movie can be more than just story telling. It can be a piece of art.”

When you look at James Cameron’s entries on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), there is not a production credit listed for him, till 1978.

The effect that Star Wars had on James Cameron, is very clear and had the film not been success, or made, a lot of great films might either not have been made either, for example the recent hit Avatar, or they may have been directed by a different director, and would have looked completely different.

Ridley Scott

The influence that Star Wars had on director Ridley Scott, is another example of how one film can change someone’s career.

According to Ridley Scott’s IMDB page, (Internet Movie Database), prior to Star Wars, he has a long list of film adverts, with credits for many different roles in the production of film. But none of the films were in the genre of science fiction.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), Ridley Scott said, “I basically said to my producer, I don’t know what we’re doing, this guy is making Star Wars, I’m not even in the same universe, I’m not even in the same century.” Later on in the documentary he also said, “I was kind of stunned, I was depressed actually” in reaction to the success of Star Wars.

Ridley Scott’s next film was the first Alien film, and as he says in the documentary, that he took a lot of inspiration from the Star Wars film, in the fact that he gave the universe the “used” look, instead of everything being spick and span, fresh off the construction line.

Towards the end of the documentary Ridley Scott also said: “Turned me around 180 degrees, as to what I felt I should be doing, and what’s interesting the next film I made was Alien”.

Peter Jackson

The influence that Star Wars had on Director Peter Jackson was not as immediate, as it was with Ridley Scott and James Cameron.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), Peter Jackson says: “Going to Star Wars was one of the most exciting experiences that I’d had in my life, not just movies, but in my life at that time.”

Later on in the documentary, Peter Jackson said: “It legitimised the way we were, and who we were, and I could go home from school in the evening, and make spaceships out of cardboard tubes and model kits.”

Also in the documentary, Peter Jackson said when talking about the ‘used’ universe that had been presented in Star Wars: “It certainly affected us, Lord of the Rings has an ethos, which is very much based on Star Wars, which is make everything believable, everything a bit dirty, a little bit run down, worn down, because that realism is the first building block towards making a connection with the characters. “

In the closing credits of the documentary, Peter Jackson gave a tribute to what Star Wars did for film makers: “This first time that I had a concept that film-makers like George Lucas were shy, retiring people and the type of kids that didn’t have girl-friends, weren’t picked for the sports team, and this was like me, and I was living thousands of miles away, but I could recognise so much of myself off what I was reading about this guy who made Star Wars, George Lucas, you know the media were full of how shy and quite he was, and yet it gave all of us who we felt were similar, it gave us a lot of hope, that we could persevere, and could achieve the sort of things he achieved.”

While looking at Peter Jackson’s IMDB page (IMDB), it is easy to see that with the list of films to his credit, and the fact he lives in New Zealand, that if it had not been for Star Wars, he may not have become a film-maker, and we would not have had films like Lord of The Rings, or if the films had been made, they might have been directed and produced by someone else.

History

The effect that Star Wars had on the visual effects, has to be the largest. A lot of what we take for granted these days, while it may have happened, they may not have been developed as quickly.

In the years and decades before Star Wars, there had always been visual effect in films, but compared to what can be produced today, they were very simple.

By looking at the Milestones in Visual Effects/Special Effects and Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) article (Dirks), you can clearly see the progression of visual effects, and see how after each film the techniques involved were improved upon.

One of the ground-breaking visual effects films that came out before Star Wars, was the 1968 film 2001: Space Odyssey. Its' use of motion control cameras was ground breaking.

After 2001, while there were films made with visual effects, not many of them had visual effects that had an impact.

There were also some films that had some very basic computer generated imagery, such as The Andromeda Strain (1971), Westworld (1973), Futureworld (1976). While the CGI was very basic compared to what we see today, it was ground-breaking.

As stated on starwars.com’s History of Industrial Light and Magic (starwars.com, 1999): “When it came time to tackle the extensive special effects essential to the story the young film maker wanted to tell, Lucas looked around for special effects workshops – only discover that they didn’t exist anymore.”

In the previous 15 years, special effects had almost completely disappeared from cinema, with a few exceptions such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

George Lucas had to put together his own team, to create the special effects, and create the equipment that would allow them to create the types of shots that George was looking for.

The biggest challenge that they faced, was being able to create a system where they could film a model of a space ship, and then repeat it over and over. Today with modern computers this is easy, but back then the computers were very basic, and they had to be programmed, and they were very big compared to today’s machines.

What they came up with, was a motion control system, This was not a new technology, since it had been used in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but with the help of John Dykstra, they developed a computer controlled version called Dykstraflex.

One of the most memorable visual effects sequence from the film that was produced on the Dykstraflex is one that everyone asked agreed upon.

The sequence in question is the opening sequence where the rebel ship comes in from above, followed by the Imperial Star Destroyer (though at the time called cruiser).

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), several of the directors said that one sequence helped them decide what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.

No one had seen a shot like that before, but it has been replicated in other films.

Another memorable sequence, would be the lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, it was another example of something people had not seen before. They had seen sword fights, and in a way these are swords, even George Lucas has called them laser swords on occasion.

With the success of Star Wars, the visual effects industry was rejuvenated.

The years after Star Wars, saw the release of a lot of science fiction films, with varying degrees of success, film’s like Alien (1979), and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

When you look at the listing for science fiction films, prior to 1977 on IMDB, (IMDB), just in the first 50 listed movies there are only a handful of science fiction films.

But if you then look at the same page for 1977 (IMDB), the number has grown, and continues to do so.

If Star Wars had not been a success, and had not even happened, the world of visual effects would be a very different world, with the industry having either completely died out, or at some later point been revived, it is hard to say precisely how long it would have taken before, the visual effects reached the point it is at today.

Companies

Pixar

The influence of Star Wars and Pixar is probably one the largest, and if Star Wars had not happened a lot of the computer animated films that have come out over the years would not have done either.

The very earliest roots of Pixar were formed at Industrial Light and Magic, which started in 1979 when George Lucas brought Ed Catmull and associates from the New York Institute of Technology (Funding Universe), though the division that later became known as Pixar, was not named until 1986, when George Lucas sold the division to Steve Jobs.

From reading the history in Tom Hornby’s article (Hormby, 2006), a lot of the people who worked with Ed Catmull at NYIT, that they were influenced by Star Wars, and while they were working on the technology. If Star Wars hadn’t been the success it was, then it may well have been some years before, the company was formed, even though As the article says, though they had been producing visuals prior to Star Wars, they were looking for more funding.

Having met with George Lucas and gradually migrated over to the computer division that was being formed, and by 1980 the team were back together to produce the special effects for Return of the Jedi.

In 1984, the research done by the team had come a long way, but with the technology required to produce computer generated feature films still not being cost effective, and with George Lucas going through a divorce with his then wife, he put the Division up for sale.

Eventually the Division was bought by Steve Jobs, thus was born the Pixar Animation Studio, (Hormby, 2006).

Whilst the technology that is involved with producing computer generated imagery had been in development before the success of Star Wars, if it had not been for the success there might not have been the funding as quickly for Ed Catmull to be able to develop what hey were working on at NYIT. (*This paragraph may need to be revised due to grammar)

With computer technology having turned out the way it has, it is possible that CGI would have developed, but it is hard to say how much of a delay there would have been.

Industrial Light & Magic

Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM, as it is also known, is best known for doing the special effects for Star Wars, and according to Thomas Smith’s book Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Special Effects (Smith, 1991), the author shows the amount the work that went into producing the special effects. This highlights the problems that they had with getting the shots that were required, and just getting the equipment to work.

Given the limitation of technology at the time with costs involved, compared to the technology they have today, they had a very hard task ahead of them.

The brief history of ILM on the starwar.com website (starwars.com, 1999), tells of how George Lucas had to create his own special effects house to produce the shots he needed for the film.

In the years since, ILM has grown, winning 15 Academy Awards, (Industrial Light & Magic) as well as many nominations, and 19 Scientific and Technical Awards (Industrial Light & Magic).

In 1999, ILM luminary Dennis Muren* was the first visual effects artist to be awarded with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (IMDB). *small grammar mistake.

Looking at the filmography for ILM on their website, (Industrial Light & Magic, 2009), it is very clear that the success of Star Wars has made them one of the premier Visual Effects houses.

If Star Wars had not been a success, the exhausted crew who worked at ILM would probably have gone back to working back on their old jobs.

If Star Wars had not happened at all, who knows where the visual effects industry would be today, while people like Dennis Muren, had been working in stop frame animation, may not have had the chance to produce the type of effects they did until many years later.

Software

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is probably one of the most powerful digital manipulation programs, and while its creation cannot be directly linked to Star Wars, the story behind its development is linked.

John and Thomas Knoll developed the program that we now know as Photoshop. Thomas, who was a studying at the University of Michigan, and John and was working at Industrial Light and Magic.

While working at ILM, John was working on Image Processing, and had seen a demo of a computer called the Pixar Image computer, which was a high-end dedicated machine for doing the task.

Whilst visiting his brother, who was working on his PhD on image processing, he told his brother about this, and Thomas told his brother about a program he was writing alongside his thesis.

This laid the foundation for a program called Display, which eventually became known as Photoshop.

As said in an on-line article on Computer Arts website, “Without the original Star Wars, there would have been no Photoshop, your job, this magazine and the entire graphics design industry would be very different from how they are today.” (Computer Arts, 2005)

In interviews with the Knoll brothers, with John (Pebler, 2008), and with both John and Thomas (National Association of Photoshop Professional, 2010), they talk about the development.

This could probably be debated, because while John was working at ILM, and having seen the Pixar Image Computer, at Pixar, as I stated above, which was a former division of ILM itself, Thomas might not have started work on Display for some time, and continued on with his thesis.

There are so many variables in the development of Display, that if just one of those variables had not worked out the way it had, the world of image editing would be very different. It is possible that someone else might have coming up with similar tools that Photoshop has, and there were already programs around that were able to do some of the things that Photoshop was doing.

EditDroid/Avid Non-Linear Editing Software

The Non-linear method of editing film, had been around for many years, but prior to Star Wars, it would involve actually cutting up the actual film and splicing it together.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), they briefly mention a NLE program that was developed by George Lucas called EditDroid.

In the book Droidmaker: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution (Rubin, 2006), the author writes about the history of EditDroid, and the creation of the software based NLE’s.

While NLE’s program were in production, and that EditDroid’s creation didn’t start till after the success of Star Wars, and without it the NLE’s we have today, might not be at the stage they are without it.

One of the most popular NLEs used in Hollywood, AVID, was being developed around the same time as EditDroid, and in Michael Rubin’s book Droid Maker (Rubin, 2006), pp469-470, by 1194, Lucas film were no longer selling EditDroid, and were looking to capitalise on the technology and patents and after investigating the AVID system as it was at that time, and another system called Lightworks. A deal was struck with Avid, which had Avid buying the underlying Droid technology, and allowing them to become the inheritor of the Lucas editing legacy.

The Avid editing software is still being used today to edit a lot of feature films, but as with the progression of technology, other NLEs have been developed. However, they all have their roots in the early systems.

It’s not possible to say with any certainty, that if Star Wars had not been a success, or had not happened, that the development of NLEs would not have reached the point it has, because other companies were working on NLEs, and some already had some software based solutions. But from what was written in the Droidmaker (Rubin, 2006)pp 320, that up to the point that EditDroid was being developed that some were better than others but they were restricted by the funding, and the limited scope of what the people who ran the companies could see for it.

Conclusion:

The effect that Star Wars, has had on the film industry was such that if the film had not succeeded, or even taken place, the whole film industry would be a very different place.

Many things that we take for granted these days, things like being able to produce computer generated imagery, would likely have happened with the way computers have developed over the years but what is to say that if George Lucas’s company hadn’t been around to help fund the research that Ed Catmull was doing, that the technology could have put on the shelf and forgotten about till the price came down, and made it more affordable.

Would James Cameron have quit his day job as a truck driver, so would we have had films like The Abyss, Terminator 1&2, Titanic, and the recent hit Avatar?

Would Peter Jackson have made his own film, and then gone on to direct the Lord of the Rings films?

Would the program that we now know as Photoshop, been developed, from the basic Display program that John and Thomas Knoll, developed while John was working at ILM, and Thomas was working on his thesis (Story, 2000)?

The list of questions of whether something or some one would have gone down the direction they took if hadn’t been of one film could go on for pages. Some of the questions we will never know the answer to.

But the one thing that is certain is that the effect that Star Wars had on the film industry is something that was momentous.
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Old May 13 2010, 11:43 PM   #5
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Compare the minor revisions of what I've "fixed" up with your original version in post 1 with the above post and you'll see why I've done it. Sincerely hope you don't mind my doing this for you.
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Old May 14 2010, 04:01 AM   #6
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Thanks Jube,

I'll correct those.
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Old May 14 2010, 05:30 AM   #7
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I haven't finished it but I've spotted one problem. Ridley Scott was involved in Science Fiction (sort of) before Star Wars- he directed three episodes of Adam Adamant Lives in the late 1960s.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059963/fullcredits#cast

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Adamant
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Old May 14 2010, 05:36 AM   #8
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I've never heard of that show.

My excuse is I wasn't born till 1974...

I wish I had thought of posting this before it had to be submitted, isn't hindsight a wonderful thing...
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Old May 14 2010, 07:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sokar View Post
I've never heard of that show.

My excuse is I wasn't born till 1974...

I wish I had thought of posting this before it had to be submitted, isn't hindsight a wonderful thing...
I wasn't born until 1985

I only heard about it by chance a few years back when BBC4 did a special on British Science Fiction.
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Old May 14 2010, 09:57 AM   #10
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Sokar – Here's how an old-fashioned newshound sub-editor would handle this. Feel free to plunder – or ignore.

A thought on style – starting sentences with subordinate clauses slows access to the main idea of the sentence. Try turning things round ie main idea first, then qualify or extrapolate.

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* indicate a small change, usually punctuation. Or a deletion.
* numerals 1 > 9 are always spelled out in full.


How Star Wars Changed the Film Industry

Introduction

For this assignment, I will discuss how one film changed the world of film making forever.

I will discuss how three directors lives were changed by Star Wars.

I will also discuss how Star Wars affected two companies, one that was formed in the process of making of the film, and the other afterwards.

I will also discuss how Star Wars helped with the creation of one digital imaging program, and the development of the Non-Linear Editing Software.

In this history of how Star Wars changed the film industry, there are two dates that are very important, aside from the birth of George Lucas, the director.

The first date* is 12 June 1962, While it may seem that nothing of note happened on this date, it changed the life of the then-teenager George Lucas.

On this day, George Lucas was driving his Fiat Bianchina, racing a friend who ended up flipping George’s car several times before it crashed into a tree. George was thrown out of the (Ravalli).

Experts claim that as long as you wear your seat belt, it will save your life. In this case, it would have been quite the opposite. If his seat belt had not broken and thrown him free, he would have died, though he did have some serious injuries.

He is quoted* on the filmmaker website. (filmmakers.com, 2007): “You can’t have that kind of experience and not feel there must be a reason why you’re here. I realised I should be spending my time trying to figure out what that reason is and trying to fulfil it.”

The second date* of importance was Wednesday, 25* May 1977, when Star Wars was premiered. The success of this one film had such a profound effect on the film industry worldwide* that, had it not been a success or not happened at all, the film industry would very different from what it is today.

That film was Star Wars.

Before the release of Star Wars, much of the film industry's output was a mixture of westerns, romance, horror, action, disaster movies, with some science fiction and dramas (BBC). Before Star Wars, *there had been some successful science fiction films - notably 2001: A Space Odyssey - but none had the reaction that Star Wars received.

Directors

James Cameron

The influence Star Wars had on James Cameron is probably seminal, bearing in mind the films he has since directed.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), James Cameron says: “I got really energised by Star Wars, in fact I quit my job as a truck driver, and said if I’m going to do this, I better get going.” Further into the documentary, James Cameron also said: “I was like, damn it, somebody else did it, but at the same it was like yes, it’s possible.” He was commenting on the success of Star Wars.

In an interview for the website, Academy of Achievement (Academy of Achievement, 2007), he was asked: “Was there a moment when a* light bulb went on and you said, “That’s what I want to do. I want to be a filmmaker. I want to be a director.”

In the interview James Cameron replied: “There were several light bulbs at several different times and the first one was when I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time. And the light bulb was, “You know, a movie can be more than just story telling. It can be a piece of art.”

When you examine James Cameron’s entries on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), there is not a production credit listed for him until 1978.

The effect that Star Wars had on James Cameron* is very clear and had the film not been made – or been a success - many great films might either not have been made either, including the recent hit Avatar; or they may have been directed by a different director, and would have looked completely different.

Ridley Scott

The influence that Star Wars had on director Ridley Scott* is another example of how one film can change a career.

According to Ridley Scott’s IMDB page, (Internet Movie Database), before Star Wars, he has a long list of film adverts, with credits for many different roles in the production of film. But none of the films were in the genre (foreign word; therefore italics) of science fiction.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), Ridley Scott said, “I basically said to my producer, I don’t know what we’re doing, this guy is making Star Wars, I’m not even in the same universe, I’m not even in the same century.” NP

Later on in the documentary he also said, “I was kind of stunned, I was depressed actually” in reaction to the success of Star Wars.

Ridley Scott’s next film was the first Alien film* and, as he says in the documentary,* he took much inspiration from the Star Wars film, particularly in the fact that he gave the universe the “used” look* instead of everything being spick and span, fresh off the construction line.

Towards the end of the documentary Ridley Scott also said: “Turned me around 180 degrees, as to what I felt I should be doing, and what’s interesting the next film I made was Alien”.

Peter Jackson

The influence that Star Wars had on Director Peter Jackson was not as immediate* as it had been with Ridley Scott and James Cameron.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), Peter Jackson says: “Going to Star Wars was one of the most exciting experiences that I’d had in my life, not just movies, but in my life at that time.”

Later on in the documentary, Peter Jackson said: “It legitimised the way we were, and who we were, and I could go home from school in the evening, and make spaceships out of cardboard tubes and model kits.”

In the same documentary, * Jackson commented on the ‘used’ universe that had been presented in Star Wars: “It certainly affected us, Lord of the Rings has an ethos, which is very much based on Star Wars, which is make everything believable, everything a bit dirty, a little bit run down, worn down, because that realism is the first building block towards making a connection with the characters”.

In the closing credits of the documentary, Peter Jackson recognised what Star Wars did for film makers: “This first time that I had a concept that film-makers like George Lucas were shy, retiring people and the type of kids that didn’t have girl-friends, weren’t picked for the sports team, and this was like me, and I was living thousands of miles away, but I could recognise so much of myself off what I was reading about this guy who made Star Wars, George Lucas, you know the media were full of how shy and quite he was, and yet it gave all of us who we felt were similar, it gave us a lot of hope, that we could persevere, and could achieve the sort of things he achieved”.

An examination of Peter Jackson’s IMDB page (IMDB) shows that, with the list of films to his credit* and the fact he lives in New Zealand, had it not been for Star Wars, he might not have become a film-maker, and we would not have had films like Lord of The Rings; or if the films had been made, they might have been directed and produced by someone else.

History

The impact that Star Wars had on * visual effects was decisive. Much of what we take for granted today, while it may have happened, *may not have been developed as quickly.

In the * decades before Star Wars* there had always been visual effects in film*, but compared to what can be produced today, they were very simple.

By looking at the Milestones in Visual Effects/Special Effects and Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) article (Dirks), you can clearly see the progression of visual effects* and see how, after each film, the techniques used were honed and improved.

One of the ground-breaking visual effects films that came out before Star Wars, was the 1968 film 2001: Space Odyssey. Its' use of motion control cameras was ground-breaking.

After 2001, while there were films made with visual effects, not many of them had visual effects that had an impact.

There were also some films that had some very basic computer generated imagery, such as The Andromeda Strain (1971), Westworld (1973), Futureworld (1976). While the CGI was very basic compared to what we see today, it was ground-breaking.

As noted on starwars.com’s History of Industrial Light and Magic (starwars.com, 1999): “When it came time to tackle the extensive special effects essential to the story the young film maker wanted to tell, Lucas looked around for special effects workshops – only discover that they didn’t exist anymore.”

In the previous 15 years, special effects had almost completely disappeared from cinema, with a few exceptions such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

George Lucas had to put together his own team* to create the special effects, and devise the equipment that would allow them to create the types of shots that George was looking for.

The biggest challenge * was the need to create a system where they could film a model of a space ship, and then repeat it over and over. This is relatively easy with modern computers, but back then machines were very basic, * they had to be programmed, and they were very big compared to today’s models.

What they came up with* was a motion control system. This was not a new technology, since it had been used in 2001: A Space Odyssey* but, with the help of John Dykstra, they developed a computer controlled version called Dykstraflex.

By common consent, one of the most memorable visual effects sequence produced on the Dykstraflex is the opening sequence where the rebel ship comes in from above, followed by the Imperial Star Destroyer (though at the time called cruiser).

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), several of the directors said that one sequence helped them decide what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.

No one had seen a shot like that before, but it has been replicated in other films.

Another memorable sequence* was the lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, *another example of something people had not seen before. They had seen sword fights* and, in a way these are swords, even George Lucas has called them laser swords on occasion.

With the success of Star Wars, the visual effects industry was rejuvenated.

The years after Star Wars* saw the release of several science fiction films* with varying degrees of success - film*s such as Alien (1979), and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

When you search the IMDB listings for science fiction * before1977, there are only a handful of science fiction films * in the first 50 listed movies

But if you then look at the same IMDB page for 1977 onwards, the number has grown - and continues to do so.

If Star Wars had not been made, or achieved such success,* the world of visual effects would have been very different. The industry might have either completely died out and at some later point * revived, but is hard to say precisely how long it would have taken before* the visual effects industry reached the point it is at today.

Companies

Pixar

The influence of Star Wars on the creation of Pixar is hugely significant, and if Star Wars had not happened many of the computer animated films that have come out since would not have been made.

The early roots of Pixar can be found in Industrial Light and Magic, which started in 1979 when George Lucas brought Ed Catmull and associates from the New York Institute of Technology (Funding Universe), though the division that later became known as Pixar* was not named until 1986, when George Lucas sold the division to Steve Jobs.

*Tom Hornby’s article (Hormby, 2006) shows that many of the people who worked with Ed Catmull at NYIT * were influenced by Star Wars * while they were working on the technology. Had Star Wars not been the success it was, * it may well have been some years before* the company was created. As the article says, though they had been producing visuals prior to Star Wars, they were looking for more funding.

Having met * George Lucas and gradually migrated over to the computer division that was being formed, * by 1980 the team were back together to produce the special effects for Return of the Jedi.

In 1984, the research done by the team had come a long way. But with the technology required to produce computer-generated feature films still not * cost-effective, and with George Lucas going through a divorce with his then-wife, he put the Division up for sale.

Eventually the Division was bought by Steve Jobs, and thus was born the Pixar Animation Studio, (Hormby, 2006).

The technology needed for computer-generated imagery had been in development before the success of Star Wars. But were it not for that success, there might not have been the quick funding needed by Ed Catmull to *develop what they were working on at NYIT.

Computer technology having developed to its current state, it is possible that advances in CGI would have evolved anyway, but it is hard to say to what extent development might have been delayed.

Industrial Light & Magic

Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM, as it is also known, is best known for rendering the special effects in Star Wars. * Thomas Smith’s book Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Special Effects (Smith, 1991), outlines * the work that went into producing the special effects. Smith highlights the problems that they had * getting the shots that were required, and just getting the equipment to work.

With the limitation of technology at the time and the costs involved, * they had a * hard task ahead of them.

The brief history of ILM on the starwar.com website (starwars.com, 1999), tells of how George Lucas had to create his own special effects house to produce the shots he needed for the film.

In the years since, ILM has grown, winning 15 Academy Awards, (Industrial Light & Magic) as well as many nominations, and 19 Scientific and Technical Awards (Industrial Light & Magic).

In 1999, ILM luminary Dennis Muren* was the first visual effects artist to be awarded * a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (IMDB).

Examining the filmography for ILM on their website, (Industrial Light & Magic, 2009), it is * clear * the success of Star Wars has made them one of the premier Visual Effects houses.

If Star Wars had not been a success, the exhausted crew who worked at ILM would probably have gone back to working * on their old jobs.

And if Star Wars had not happened at all, who knows where the visual effects industry would be today? At the same time, people like Dennis Muren, * working in stop-frame animation, may not have had the chance to produce the type of effects they did until many years later.

Software

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is probably one of the most powerful digital manipulation programs, and while its creation cannot be directly linked to Star Wars, the story behind its development is linked.

John and Thomas Knoll developed the program * we now know as Photoshop. Thomas * was * studying at the University of Michigan, and John * was working at Industrial Light and Magic.

While working at ILM, John was working on Image Processing, and had seen a demo of a computer called the Pixar Image computer, which was a high-end machine dedicated to the task.

When John visited his brother, who was working on his PhD on image processing, he told Thomas about this, and Thomas told his brother about a program he was writing alongside his thesis.

This laid the foundation for a program called Display, which eventually became known as Photoshop.

An on-line article on Computer Arts website says, “Without the original Star Wars, there would have been no Photoshop, your job, this magazine and the entire graphics design industry would be very different from how they are today”.(Computer Arts, 2005)

In interviews with the Knoll brothers, with John (Pebler, 2008), and with both John and Thomas (National Association of Photoshop Professional, 2010), they talk about the development.

The might-have-beens are debatable* because, while John was working at ILM, and having seen the Pixar Image Computer *( as * noted above) * within this former division of ILM *, Thomas might not have started work on Display for some time, and continued * with his thesis.
THIS PARAGRAPH IS FAIRLY OPAQUE; YOU MAY WISH TO RE-CAST IT.

There are so many variables in the development of Display, that if just one of those variables had not worked out the way it had, the world of image editing would be very different. It is possible that someone else might have coming up with similar tools to those featured in Photoshop *, and there were already programs around that were able to do some of the things that Photoshop was doing.

EditDroid/Avid Non-Linear Editing Software

The Non-linear method of editing film, had been around for many years, but prior to Star Wars* it would involve actually cutting up the actual film and splicing it together.

In the documentary: The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars (LucasFilm, 2004), they briefly mention a NLE program that was developed by George Lucas called EditDroid.

In the book Droidmaker: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution (Rubin, 2006), the author writes about the history of EditDroid, and the creation of the software based NLE’s.

While NLE’s program were in production, and that EditDroid’s creation didn’t start till after the success of Star Wars, and without it the NLE’s we have today, might not be at the stage they are without it.

AVID, is one of the most popular NLEs used in Hollywood. It was developed around the same time as EditDroid. According to Michael Rubin’s book Droid Maker (Rubin, 2006), pp469-470, Lucas film were no longer selling EditDroid by 1994?, and were looking to capitalise on the technology and patents. After investigating the AVID system as it was at that time, and another system called Lightworks, a deal was struck with Avid, in which * Avid bought the underlying Droid technology, and allowed them to become the inheritor of the Lucas editing legacy.

The Avid editing software is still being used today to edit many feature films* but, * with advances in technology, other NLEs have been developed. However, they all have their roots in the early systems.

With hindsight, had Star Wars had not been made or then had not been a success, it would be difficult to claim with any certainty* that the development of NLEs would not have reached the point they have. * Other companies were working on NLEs, and some already had some software-based solutions.

But we can conclude from Droidmaker (Rubin, 2006)pp 320* that, up to the point that EditDroid was being developed, some programs were better than others but they were all restricted by * funding* and the limited vision of the people who ran the companies could see for NLE.

Conclusion:

The effect that Star Wars, has had on the film industry was such that if the film had not succeeded, or even taken place, the whole film industry would be a very different place.

Many things that we take for granted * - things like * computer-generated imagery - would likely have evolved given the way computers have developed over the years, But it could be posited that, if George Lucas’s company hadn’t been around to help fund Ed Catmull's research *, * the technology could have been put on the shelf and forgotten until it became more affordable.

Would James Cameron have quit his day job as a truck driver, so would we have had films like The Abyss, Terminator 1&2, Titanic, and the recent hit Avatar?

Would Peter Jackson have made his own film, and then gone on to direct the Lord of the Rings films?

Would the program that we now know as Photoshop* have been developed* from the basic Display program that John and Thomas Knoll, developed while John was working at ILM, and Thomas was working on his thesis (Story, 2000)?

* We will never know the answer to some of those questions.

But the one thing that is certain: the impact Star Wars had on the film industry * was momentous.

ETA - Rats! many of my edits (done in Open Office) did not transfer. Ah well . . .
ITEM - when a quote ends a sentence, the convention is ". not ."
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Old May 14 2010, 04:05 PM   #11
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Just to totally confuse you I too have had a go at it.

Mainly I've placed quote marks around book, film and show titles; swapped a few subordinate clauses and changed the verb tense here and there to retain the sense of what you are saying. There were a couple of paragraphs that I feel could have been expressed more comfortably.

I'm sending my version as a PM. I've underlined my corrections.

Can't do that: it's too long.

Quote:
How Star Wars Changed the Film Industry

Introduction

For this assignment, I will discuss how one film changed the world of film making forever.

I will discuss how the lives of three directors were changed by Star Wars. I will show how Star Wars affected two companies; one that was formed in the process of making of the film, and the other afterwards. Also how Star Wars helped with the creation of one digital imaging program, and the development of the Non-Linear Editing Software.

In this history of how Star Wars changed the film industry, there are two dates that are very important, aside from the birth of the director George Lucas.

The first date is 12 June 1962. While it may seem as if nothing happened of note on this date, it changed the life of the then teenager George Lucas. He was racing his Fiat Bianchina against a friend, who ended up flipping George’s car several times before it crashed into a tree, being thrown out of the ???(Ravalli). It’s always said that as long as you wear your seat belt, it will save your life. In this case it would have been quite the opposite. If his seat belt had not broken and he hadn’t been thrown free he would have died, though he did have some serious injuries.

As he is quoted as saying on the filmmaker website (filmmakers.com, 2007): “You can’t have that kind of experience and not feel there must be a reason why you’re here. I realised I should be spending my time trying to figure out what that reason is and trying to fulfil it.”

The second date of importance was Wednesday 25th of May 1977 when Star Wars was premiered. That one film had such a profound effect on the world’s film industry that had it not been such a success, or not happened at all, the film industry would very different from what it is today.

(That film was Star Wars.) (Superfluous sentence)

Prior to Star Wars coming out, most films (apostrophe not needed) that came out, were (apostrophe not needed) a mixture of westerns, romance, horror, action, and disaster movies, with a few science fiction and dramas (BBC). Prior to this, while there had been some successful science fiction films, for example ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, none got the reaction that Star Wars received.

The Directors

James Cameron

The influence that Star Wars had on James Cameron is probably one of the biggest, considering the films he has directed. In the documentary: ‘The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars’ (Lucas Film, 2004), James Cameron says: “I got really energised by Star Wars, in fact I quit my job as a truck driver, and said if I’m going to do this, I better get going.” Further into the documentary, James Cameron also said: “I was like, damn it, somebody else did it, but at the same it was like yes, it’s possible.” He was commenting on the success of Star Wars.

In an interview for the website, Academy of Achievement (Academy of Achievement, 2007), he was asked: “Was there a moment when light bulb went on and you said, “That’s what I want to do. I want to be a filmmaker. I want to be a director.” Cameron replied: “There were several light bulbs at several different times and the first one was when I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time. And the light bulb was, “You know, a movie can be more than just story telling. It can be a piece of art.”

When you look at James Cameron’s entries on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) there is no production credit listed for him, till 1978. The effect that Star Wars had on Cameron is very clear and had the film not been successful, or made, a lot of other great films might not have been made either, for example the recent hit ‘Avatar’, or they may have been directed by a different director and would have looked completely different.

Ridley Scott

The influence that Star Wars had on director Ridley Scott, is another example of how one film can change someone’s career. According to Ridley Scott’s IMDB page (Internet Movie Database) prior to Star Wars he is credited with many different roles in a long list of film adverts; but none of the films were in the genre of science fiction.

In the documentary: ‘The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars’ (Lucas Film, 2004), Ridley Scott said, “I basically said to my producer, I don’t know what we’re doing, this guy is making Star Wars, I’m not even in the same universe, I’m not even in the same century.” Later on in the documentary he also said, “I was kind of stunned, I was depressed actually” in reaction to the success of Star Wars.

Ridley Scott’s next film was the first of the ‘Alien’ films and, as he says in the documentary, he took a lot of inspiration from the Star Wars film, in that he gave his universe the “used” look, instead of everything being spick and span, fresh off the construction line.

Towards the end of the same documentary Ridley Scott also said, “it turned me around 180 degrees as to what I felt I should be doing and, what’s interesting, the next film I made was ‘Alien’”.

Peter Jackson

The influence that Star Wars had on Director Peter Jackson was not as immediate, as it was with Ridley Scott and James Cameron.

In the documentary: ‘The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars’(Lucas Film, 2004), Peter Jackson says: “Going to Star Wars was one of the most exciting experiences that I’d had in my life, not just movies, but in my life at that time.” Later on in the documentary, Peter Jackson said: “It legitimised the way we were, and who we were, and I could go home from school in the evening, and make spaceships out of cardboard tubes and model kits.”

Also in the documentary, Peter Jackson said, when talking about the ‘used’ universe that had been presented in Star Wars, “It certainly affected us, Lord of the Rings has an ethos, which is very much based on Star Wars, which is ‘make everything believable, everything a bit dirty, a little bit run down, worn down’, because that realism is the first building block towards making a connection with the characters.”

In the closing credits of the documentary, Peter Jackson gave a tribute to what Star Wars did for film makers: “This first time that I had a concept that film-makers like George Lucas were shy, retiring people and the type of kids that didn’t have girl friends, weren’t picked for the sports team, and this was like me, and I was living thousands of miles away, but I could recognise so much of myself off what I was reading about this guy who made Star Wars, George Lucas. You know the media were full of how shy and quite he was, and yet it gave all of us who we felt were similar, it gave us a lot of hope, that we could persevere, and could achieve the sort of things he achieved.”

While looking at Peter Jackson’s IMDB page (IMDB), (superfluous) it is easy to see that with the list of films to his credit, and the fact he lives in New Zealand, that if it had not been for Star Wars, he may not have become a film-maker, and we would not have had films like Lord of The Rings or, if the films had been made, they might have been directed and produced by someone else.

History

The influence that Star Wars had on visual effects has to have been (verb agreement) enormous. A lot of what we take for granted these days, while it may have happened, may not have been developed as quickly. In the years and decades before Star Wars, there had always been visual effect in films, but compared to what can be produced today, they were very simple. (Check out ‘The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari’ 1919)

By looking at the ‘Milestones in Visual Effects/Special Effects and Computer-Generated Imagery’ (CGI) article (Dirks), you can clearly see the progression of visual effects, and see how after each film the techniques involved were improved upon. One of the ground breaking visual effects films that came out before Star Wars, was the 1968 film ‘2001: Space Odyssey’. Its use of motion control cameras was ground breaking.

After 2001, while there were films made with visual effects, not many of them had visual effects that had an impact. There were also some films that had some very basic computer generated imagery, such as ‘The Andromeda Strain’ (1971), ‘Westworld’ (1973), ‘Futureworld’ (1976). While the CGI was very basic compared to what we see today, it was groundbreaking.

As stated in starwars.com’s ‘History of Industrial Light and Magic’ (starwars.com, 1999): “When it came time to tackle the extensive special effects essential to the story the young film maker wanted to tell, Lucas looked around for special effects workshops – only discover that they didn’t exist anymore.” In the previous 15 years, special effects had almost completely disappeared from cinema, with a few exceptions such as Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.

George Lucas had to put together his own team, to create the special effects, and create the equipment that would allow them to create the types of shots that George was looking for. The biggest challenge that they faced, was being able to create a system where they could film a model of a space ship, and then repeat it over and over. Today with modern computers this is easy, but back then the computers were very basic, and they had to be programmed, and they were very big compared to today’s machines.

What they came up with, was a motion control system, This was not a new technology, since it had been used in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but with the help of John Dykstra, they developed a computer controlled version called Dykstraflex.

In an informal poll, there was agreement that there is one memorable Dykstraflex visual effects sequence: the opening where the rebel ship comes in from above, followed by the Imperial Star Destroyer (though at the time called cruiser).

In the documentary: ‘The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars’ (Lucas Film, 2004), several directors said that that one sequence helped them decide what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives. No one had seen a shot like that before, although it has been replicated in other films.

Another memorable sequence would be the light sabre battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. It was another example of something people had not seen before. They had seen sword fights, and in a way these are swords, even George Lucas has called them laser swords on occasion.

With the success of Star Wars, the visual effects industry was rejuvenated.

The years after Star Wars, saw the release of a lot of science fiction films, with varying degrees of success, film’s like ‘Alien’ (1979), and ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ (1979).

When you look at the listing for science fiction films, prior to 1977 on IMDB, (IMDB), (superfluous) just in the first 50 listed movies there are only a handful of science fiction films. (If it’s a listing of science fiction films then there must be 50 of them not a handful?) But if you then look at the same page for 1977 (IMDB), the number has grown, and continues to do so.

If Star Wars had not been a success, or had not even happened, the world of visual effects would be very different world (superfluous), with the industry having either completely died out, or at some later point been revived, it is hard to say precisely how long it would have taken before, the visual effects reached the point it is at today.

Companies

Pixar

The influence of Star Wars and Pixar is probably one the largest and, if Star Wars had not happened, a lot of the computer animated films that have come out over the years would not have done either.

The very earliest roots of Pixar were formed at Industrial Light and Magic, which started in 1979 when George Lucas brought Ed Catmull and his associates from the New York Institute of Technology (Funding Universe), though the division that later became known as Pixar, was not named until 1986, when George Lucas sold the division to Steve Jobs.

From reading the history in Tom Hornby’s article (Hornby, 2006), a lot of the people who worked with Ed Catmull at NYIT stated that they were influenced by Star Wars, while they were working on the technology. If Star Wars hadn’t been the success it was, then it may well have been some years before the company was formed. Even though, as the article says, though (superfluous) they had been producing visuals prior to Star Wars, they were looking for more funding. Having met with George Lucas and gradually migrated over to the computer division that was being formed, by 1980 the team were back together to produce the special effects for ‘Return of the Jedi’.

In 1984, the research done by the team had come a long way. But with the level of technology required to produce them, computer generated feature films were still not being cost effective and, as George Lucas was going through a divorce with his current wife, he put the Division up for sale.
Eventually it was bought by Steve Jobs, thus was born the Pixar Animation Studio, (Hormby, 2006).

While the technology that is involved with producing computer generated imagery had been in development before the success of Star Wars, if it had not been for that success there the funding might not have been forthcoming as quickly to enable Ed Catmull to develop what they were working on at NYIT. With computer technology having turned out the way it has; it is possible that CGI would have developed anyway, but it is hard to say how much of a delay there would have been.

Industrial Light & Magic

Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM, as it is also known, is best known for doing the special effects for Star Wars, and according to the book ‘Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Special Effects’ (Thomas Smith, 1991), the author shows the amount the work that went into producing the special effects. This highlights the problems that they had with getting the shots that were required, and just getting the equipment to work. Given the limitation of technology at the time with costs involved, compared to the technology available today, they had a very hard task ahead of them.

The brief history of ILM on the starwar.com website (starwars.com, 1999), tells of how George Lucas had to create his own special effects house to produce the shots he needed for the film. In the years since, ILM has grown, winning 15 Academy Awards, (Industrial Light & Magic) as well as many nominations, and 19 Scientific and Technical Awards (Industrial Light & Magic). In 1999, ILM luminary Dennis Muren, in was the first visual effects artist to be awarded with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (IMDB).

Looking at the filmography for ILM on their website, (Industrial Light & Magic, 2009), it is very clear that the success of Star Wars has made them one of the premier Visual Effects houses.

If Star Wars had not been a success, the exhausted crew who worked at ILM would probably have gone back to working back on their old jobs. If Star Wars had not happened at all, who knows where the visual effects industry would be today. While people like Dennis Muren had been working in stop frame animation, they may not have had the chance to produce the type of effects they did until many years later.

Software

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is probably one of the most powerful digital manipulation programs in existence and, while its creation cannot be directly linked to Star Wars, the story behind its development is linked.

John and Thomas Knoll developed the program that we now know as Photoshop. Thomas, who was a studying at the University of Michigan, and John and was working at Industrial Light and Magic. While working at ILM, John was working on Image Processing, and had seen a demo of a computer called the Pixar Image Computer, which was a high-end dedicated machine for doing the task.

While visiting his brother, who was working on his PhD on image processing, John told his brother about this, and Thomas told his brother about a program he was writing alongside his thesis. This laid the foundation for a program called Display, which eventually became known as Photoshop.

As said in an on-line article on Computer Arts website, “Without the original Star Wars, there would have been no Photoshop, your job, this magazine and the entire graphics design industry would be very different from how they are today.” (Computer Arts, 2005)

There have been various interviews with the Knoll brothers. In one with John (Pebler, 2008), and also with both John and Thomas (National Association of Photoshop Professional, 2010), they talk about the development.

It could probably be shown that Thomas might not have started work on Display for some time, and continued on with his thesis, if John had not been working at ILM, where he had seen the Pixar’s Image Computer; Pixar of course being a former division of ILM itself.

As with many complex programmes, there are so many variables in the development of Display, that if just one of those variable had not worked out the way it had, the world of image editing would be very different. It is possible that someone else might have coming up with similar tools that Photoshop has, and there were already programs around that were able to do some of the things that Photoshop was doing.

EditDroid/Avid Non-Linear Editing Software

The non-linear method of editing film, had been around for many years, but prior to Star Wars, it would involve actually cutting up the actual film and splicing it together. In the documentary ‘The Force is With Them: the Legacy of Star Wars’ (Lucas Film, 2004), they briefly mention a NLE program that was developed by George Lucas called EditDroid.

In the book ‘Droidmaker: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution’ (Rubin, 2006), the author writes about the history of EditDroid, and the creation of the software based NLEs. While other NLE programmes were around, EditDroid’s creation didn’t start till after the success of Star Wars, and without it the NLEs we have today, might not be at the stage they are without it.

One of the most popular NLEs used in Hollywood, AVID, was being developed around the same time as EditDroid, and in Michael Rubin’s book ‘Droid Maker’ (Rubin, 2006, pp469-470) by 1194 (huh?), Lucas Films were no longer selling EditDroid, and were looking to capitalise on the technology and patents and, after investigating the AVID system as it existed at that time and another system called Lightworks, a deal was struck with Avid, which had Avid buying the underlying Droid technology, and allowing them to become the inheritor of the Lucas editing legacy. The Avid editing software is still being used today to edit a lot of feature films, but as with the progression of technology, other NLEs have been developed. However, they all have their roots in the early systems.

It is not possible to say with any certainty that, if Star Wars had not been a success, or had not happened, that the development of NLEs would not have reached the point it has, because other companies were also working on NLEs, and some already had software based solutions. But from what was written in the ’Droidmaker’ (Rubin, 2006 pp 320), up to the point that EditDroid was being developed, some were better than others but they were restricted by the lack of funding, and the limited scope for it that the people who ran the companies could see.

Conclusion:

The effect that Star Wars, has had on the film industry was such that if the film had not succeeded, or even taken place, the whole film industry would be a very different place.

With the way computers have developed over the years, many things that we take for granted these days, like being able to produce computer generated imagery, would be likely to have happened. But if George Lucas’s company hadn’t been around to help fund the research that Ed Catmull was doing, the technology could have put on the shelf and forgotten about till the price came down, and made it more affordable.

Would James Cameron have quit his day job as a truck driver, so would we have had films like ‘The Abyss’, ‘Terminator 1&2’, ‘Titanic’, and the recent hit ‘Avatar’? Would Peter Jackson have made his own film, and then gone on to direct the Lord of the Rings films? Would the program that we now know as Photoshop, been developed, from the basic Display program that John and Thomas Knoll, developed while John was working at ILM, and Thomas was working on his thesis (Story, 2000)?

The list of questions of whether something or somebody would have gone down the direction they took if hadn’t been of one film could go on for pages. Some of the questions will never know the answer to.

But the one thing that is certain is that the effect that Star Wars had on the film industry is something that was momentous.
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I know that on some courses you'd get it back with an initial grade, which you are then allowed to work on to up your grade.
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Old May 14 2010, 06:49 PM   #12
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Its timing also, for the Star Trek Moves too, for a reference at the moment I'd have to dig for it. I read it somewhere I'm born in 1973
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Old May 16 2010, 06:28 AM   #13
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Sokar,

It was nice to read your project. I hope that you get a good grade

greetings from a Starwars fan!
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Old May 17 2010, 03:05 AM   #14
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Being a 70's babe ROCKS , I'll admit to being one too
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Old May 18 2010, 11:01 PM   #15
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You all are making me feel old. I was born in 1963.

Love the report.
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Old May 19 2010, 10:18 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mawra View Post
You all are making me feel old. I was born in 1963.

Love the report.
Yeah, but people our age really grew up in the 70's, and Star Wars hit when we were young teens, when we could really enjoy it.

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Old May 20 2010, 05:10 AM   #17
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I can remember going to the cinema and watching Return of the Jedi.
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