Archive for ‘Behind The Scenes’



Imagineering Star Tours, Part 3: Visual Effects (and Disney) Magic

Jason Surrell | April 11, 2014

Star Tours

When we last left our heroes, Disney Imagineers Tom Fitzgerald, Tony Baxter, and their project team had collaborated with George Lucas to develop a concept for their flight simulator attraction Star Tours. In their story, the interstellar spaceline offers flights throughout a galaxy recently made safe by the Rebel victory over the evil Galactic Empire…but, of course, the proverbial “something horrible” would inevitably go wrong. For the ride-film itself, George unleashed the same visual effects wizards at Industrial Light & Magic that had transported audiences to a galaxy far, far away in the Star Wars trilogy.

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Imagineering Star Tours, Part 2: Lightspeed to Endor

Jason Surrell | March 27, 2014

Star Tours poster 

It is a period of rebirth at Walt Disney Productions. Although the company had almost been destroyed by an evil empire of corporate raiders, a small band of freedom fighters led by Roy E. Disney thwarted the attack and restored order to the company. 

New CEO Michael Eisner and president Frank Wells have dispatched the creative wizards at Walt Disney Imagineering to restore hope to the company’s theme parks in the form of innovative new rides and attractions.

Now, working from their hidden base in Glendale, a group of Imagineers including veteran storytellers Tony Baxter and Tom Fitzgerald has forged an alliance with master filmmaker George Lucas to bring his beloved galaxy to life at Disney theme parks across the planet…

Sorry about that, but I couldn’t resist. How often do you get to write your own Star Wars crawl? Plus it was a good way to quickly recap part one in this series of posts on the creation of the original Star Tours.

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The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Indiana Jones and The Lost Missions

Bryan Young | March 18, 2014

Club Obi Wan in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Like most people reading this, I spent a whole Saturday binge-watching the Netflix premiere of the Lost Missions of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. We were rewarded for our patience with 13 episodes of a show we loved, which might have been 13 of the best produced. They were action packed, beautifully animated, thrilling, and, at times, heartbreaking.

But for some reason I really, really wanted to watch the Indiana Jones movies after this batch of episodes. It should come as no surprise that the Indiana Jones films might creep their influence into Star Wars projects as they have George Lucas in common, but there were three episodes of The Lost Missions that paid pretty blatant homage to everyone’s favorite archeologist.

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To Fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Thank You

Dave Filoni | March 10, 2014

Star Wars: The Clone Wars logo

The Clone Wars “Lost Missions” made its debut on Netflix on Friday, and in honor of that fact I thought it was time for a new blog post, specifically for everyone who supported the show.

Growing up a Star Wars fan I dreamed of what the Clone Wars were like, but I never dared dream I would be lucky enough to be a part of the telling of these stories, with some of the most creative and talented people I have ever known.

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Shake Hands with the Money: Remembering David Tomblin, First Assistant Director

John "Dak" Morton | March 5, 2014

David Tomblin with Carrie Fisher on the set of Return of the Jedi

He was a bear of a man. Big men — gaffers and grips — worked for him and did so with the greatest of affection. Broad and full were his shoulders, carried high, pushed tight against the neck. With his barrel-chest, he squeezed his words through the back of his throat and nostrils, as is the manner of those suburban London lads that communicates controlled authority, experienced professionalism. In tributes after he died in 2005 at the age of 74, he was lauded as the finest and most respected first assistant director in the world. Around the time he AD’d Return of the Jedi, he reckoned he had done 478 films. In a previous post, I characterized him as a great who orchestrated symphonies out of chaos. This time, I’m going as far as to say that David Tomblin was the greatest first assistant ever.

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Now the Adventure is Real: Imagineering Star Tours

Jason Surrell | March 3, 2014

Star Tours

I had experienced true convergence. The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of my obsessions. Star Wars was coming to Disneyland. I was in high school and completely consumed by all things Disney and George Lucas when I first heard about Star Tours, a new Star Wars-themed attraction slated to open at Disneyland in January of 1987. Disney’s fabled Imagineers would be joining creative forces with the Maker himself to finally give the residents of our mundane galaxy the chance to blast off with R2-D2 and launch our own assault on the Death Star? I thought my head was about to explode just like that doomed battle station. No pun intended, but how could the stars have aligned so perfectly?

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From World War to Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon

Cole Horton | February 18, 2014

Last month, I claimed that World War II impacted more elements of Star Wars than any other single influence. This month, I set out to prove it by studying the galaxy’s most famous spacecraft: the Millennium Falcon. Nearly every aspect of this famous ship shares a connection to the war: from the cockpit to the engines, the Second World War helped build everyone’s favorite bucket of bolts.

The Millennium Falcon cockpit interior while jumping to lightspeed

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The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Battle of the Bulge

Bryan Young | January 20, 2014

The Rebel Base from The Empire Strikes Back

I’m a fan of old-school war movies and it’s pretty clear that George Lucas is, too. For me, Battle of the Bulge, directed by Ken Annikan is a movie that I hadn’t seen prior to the recommendation of Dave Filoni, the supervising director on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. During one of the many times I harassed Filoni about movies they were watching behind the scenes of The Clone Wars to inspire themselves and the show, he told me that this was a big one I needed to watch and he wasn’t kidding.

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Art Spiegelman: Comic Book Legend, Star Wars Trading Card Creator

Bryan Young | January 7, 2014

Vintage Star Wars trading cards

I never pass up an opportunity to ask people whose work I idolize about Star Wars. And I recently had the chance to speak to Art Spiegelman about his art, the Pulitzer Prize he won for his anthropomorphic tale of the holocaust, Maus, and the rest of his career. He has a show of his work going on in New York at the Jewish Museum, though it contains nothing from the Star Wars saga.

Spiegelman worked at the Topps card company for a long time (he even came up with the idea of Garbage Pail Kids) and I thought he might have an interesting take on Star Wars, since Topps produced my favorite collectible from the ’70s, the Star Wars bubblegum trading cards.

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The Cinema Behind Star Wars: The Dam Busters

Bryan Young | December 9, 2013

The Dam Busters is a 1955 British film set in World War II. It tells the daring true story of an Royal Air Force raid to destroy a trio of German dams, deep in enemy territory.

Conventional weapons simply wouldn’t do the job, so scientists had to develop a new way of delivering a bomb: skipping it across the water so it would wedge up against the dam. In order to hit the target, the pilots had to fly exactly 60 feet from the surface of the water and every bomber in the mission had to drop their bomb at exactly the same spot.

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