Archive for ‘Lucasfilm’



The StarWars.com 10: Best Bounty Hunters

StarWars.com Team | November 6, 2013

The StarWars.Com 10

Welcome to The StarWars.com 10, a feature where StarWars.com’s editorial staff huddles to discuss — in a committee — various topics relating to a galaxy far, far away. Today we’re looking at the top mercenaries of Star Wars.

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The StarWars.com 10: Best Monsters

StarWars.com Team | October 22, 2013

The StarWars.Com 10

Welcome to The StarWars.com 10, a feature where StarWars.com’s editorial staff huddles to discuss — in a committee — various topics relating to a galaxy far, far away. Today, as it’s that time of year, we pick the best creepy crawlies (big and small) of Star Wars.

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Star Wars Mysteries: Exacting Executor Measurements

Pablo Hidalgo | October 9, 2013
Star Wars Mysteries: Exacting Executor Measurements
Etiquette dictates that to avoid upset feelings or arguments, there are three things you never discuss at the dinner table: religion, politics, and the lengths of Super Star Destroyers. The last one, in particular, is a topic fraught with controversy with impassioned opinions that have sparked many a damned fool idealistic crusade. This blog is one of them.
What’s the kerfuffle about? In case you haven’t heard, the size of the Executor has, for years, been a contested thing. Today’s era of computer-generated visual effects offer an advantage, in that there are set numbers that define the “real” size of CG starships. Sure, some shots may fudge things in the composite, but in general, all the elements within a CG shot are to scale with one another, and by opening up the assets on a computer, you can find out how big a model is supposed to be.
Motion control models, however, aren’t as rigidly defined. Yes, they’re built to a certain scale, but in the set-up of an optical composite, the arrangement of ships can be composed to the frame, rather than true perspective, and it gets harder and harder to establish what the true size of any given object can be.
That’s a long way of saying it’s hard to measure a ship by looking at the screen. And that’s what’s spawned all sorts of debate on what the intended size of Darth Vader’s Super Star Destroyer should be. And it shows in the spin-off books and guides that have come after The Empire Strikes Back, in that the size of the Executor has varied over the years.
If we accept that a regular Star Destroyer is a mile-long, then we have an accurate “yardstick” by which to measure the Executor. But the problem is that shots in Episodes V and VI rarely line up the ships perfectly for us to measure. Shots like this give us the closest clue:
[image]
But even here there are camera-based unknowns like lens type and focal length that could affect how big the objects in the image appear.
So we are forced to turn to text and see what’s been written about the Star Destroyer length. Does the script say anything on how big the Star Destroyer is supposed to be? Alas, no. It just says the following:
Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer, larger and more awesome than the five Imperial Star Destroyers that surround it, sits in the vastness of space. The six huge ships are surrounded by a convoy of smaller spacecraft. TIE fighters dart to and fro.
We can take it as canon that the Executor is indeed more awesome than a regular Star Destroyer, but specifics about size are lacking.
The next source to weigh in on anything quantitative is The Art of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) which tells us, rather unhelpfully, that Vader’s Star Destroyer has “twice the destructive capability of any craft in the Imperial fleet.” In 1983, in The Empire Strikes Back National Public Radio Dramatization has Lando Calrissian eyeball Vader’s flagship to be about three times the size of Cloud City, a measurement that is no help given that Cloud City’s size is never specified. For those doing the math nowadays, based on how big we understand Cloud City to be, that puts the Executor at a whopping 48 kilometers in length, or 30 times the size of a regular mile-long Star Destroyer.
The first source to attempt to say anything definitive about a Star Destroyer length is A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, written by Raymond L. Velasco and published by Del Rey Books in 1984. It says, quite firmly, that the Executor is five times the length of a regular Star Destroyer. This locks in the size of the Executor at eight kilometers long (five miles), and for years after that, it was the accepted length. West End Games, publishers of the Star Wars roleplaying game at the time had to adhere to this. So did the video games that followed in the ’90s, the size charts in the hefty Star Wars Chronicles book, and the first edition of The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels.
To this day, I don’t know where Velasco got the five-mile length from, but he had to have good reason. He cites in the Guide as his sources for that entry The Art of The Empire Strikes Back and The Empire Strikes Back itself, but neither source makes that claim. It wasn’t until The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels that this size got bumped up to 12,800 kilometers in length, and the most recent measurements that came courtesy of later era cross-section books and published blueprints have settled on 19,000 kilometers in length. My how has it grown!
But what was the intent of the modelmakers? Is there any way to figure that out?
During the filming of The Empire Strikes Back, there were two principal scales for the Star Destroyer model. ILM used a 91-centimeter long model originally created for A New Hope for some shots, as well as a much larger 259-centimeter long version for Empire. These allowed them to get different types of shots, including wide shots that wouldn’t require trucking the camera a long distance away. You can tell the difference between the two scales of Star Destroyers by looking at the detail on the engines.
[IMAGES]
But the enormity of the Super Star Destroyer created a wrinkle. It was built a relatively manageable 282 centimeters in length. Capturing the whole thing was possible on stage, but in order to put a regular Star Destroyer in frame with it, you would have had to have a huge floor space to get far away from even the 91-centimeter model so that it scaled properly.
To save money and studio space, ILM built a small Star Destroyer out of brass to share the shot with the Executor. It was built of brass so that a hot light source could run from inside the small model without melting the dense little ship.
The important thing about the brass Star Destroyer is that it was built to be in scale with the Super Destroyer model. So if the little brass ship is supposed to be a mile long, then we know how long the Executor truly is supposed to be. I found the brass Star Destroyer at the Lucasfilm Archives and was able to measure it.
It is 33.5 centimeters long. Compare that to the Super Star Destroyer’s length of 282 centimeters long, and that suggests the intended size of the Executor of 8.418 times the size of a regular Star Destroyer. In other words: 13,469 meters long.
I say intended size, because I’m not about to weigh in here with a canonical size of the in-universe vessel after all these years. I’ll let someone else duke it out to settle that statistic. But now you’ve got another data point on the ongoing debate.

Etiquette dictates that to avoid upset feelings or arguments, there are three things you never discuss at the dinner table: religion, politics, and the lengths of Super Star Destroyers. The last one, in particular, is a topic fraught with controversy with impassioned opinions that have sparked many a damned fool idealistic crusade. This blog is one of them.

Flame ware in 3... 2... 1...

Flame war in 3... 2... 1...

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The StarWars.com 10: Best Music

StarWars.com Team | October 8, 2013

The StarWars.Com 10

Welcome to The StarWars.com 10, a feature where StarWars.com’s editorial staff huddles to discuss — in a committee — various topics relating to a galaxy far, far away. Today, we pick the top John Williams compositions of the Star Wars films.

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The StarWars.com 10: Best Starfighters

StarWars.com Team | September 24, 2013

The StarWars.Com 10

Welcome to The StarWars.com 10, a feature where StarWars.com’s editorial staff huddles to discuss — in a committee — various topics relating to a galaxy far, far away. Today, we pick the top starfighters in the Star Wars films.

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Star Wars Mysteries: Who is Wiebba-Wiebba?

Pablo Hidalgo | August 19, 2013

Readers of this blog will know that Jabba’s palace from Return of the Jedi is filled with several longstanding mysteries (like this one, and this one). But this year, the 30th anniversary of Episode VI, I was finally able to answer a question that had been gnawing at me since 1983. Who is Wiebba-Wiebba?

Who-bba-Whatta?

Who-bba-Whatta?

I recently revealed my discovery at Celebration Europe, as part of the Return of the Jedi Creature History panel that’s been described here. It was at the end of a panel that had spent over an hour detailing as many of the creatures created for Episode VI as possible.

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Caravan of the Force Day 11: Return of the Jedi (News)

James Burns & Mark Newbold | August 12, 2013

caravanoftheforce-twitterbanner_1

Star Wars Celebration Europe was over before it began and Sunday at 5:00 p.m. came far too quickly. We said our goodbyes to all the friends we only see at Celebrations around the world, knowing that the next fan gathering would take place in Anaheim in April 2015. We loaded Slave-2 and squeezed the vehicle out from the stand, made arrangements to pick up Maureen and Jeremy at 09:30 the following morning, and headed back to our hotel to rest our weary heads before the next day’s long drive back to the UK.

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The Official Star Wars Hashtag Holocron

StarWars.com Team | June 28, 2013

hashtags
There’s a lot going on with Star Wars these days, from Episode VII to Celebration, and it can be hard to keep of track of relevant conversations — especially on Twitter. But fear not: We have created this post to be your one stop shop for all official Star Wars hashtags!

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Disney and Star Wars: When Geek Worlds Collide

Jennifer Heddle | June 14, 2013

memickey

May was a very busy month for me, not least because of a couple of trips down to the Disney offices in southern California. Becoming part of Disney is as surreal an experience for me as initially joining Lucasfilm was, as both Disney and Star Wars are lifelong loves of mine. In fact, while I was down there, one of the HR people caught me eyeing the new Disney Princess merchandise twice. How embarrassing.

Disney and Star Wars is not such an odd combination, though, when you think about it. Star Wars is in many ways a fairy tale — fairy tales are, after all, just different versions of myths. (As a kid I was obsessed with Greek mythology, too, so I’m definitely consistent!) These stories tap into something elemental, something cosmic. There’s a reason every culture has its stories that it tells over and over again. We’re all just trying to understand our place in the universe.

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Han and Leia: Why They’re Perfect Together

Jennifer Heddle | February 13, 2013

han_leia

I first saw A New Hope when I was four years old, and although I loved it, my thought process about it admittedly didn’t go much beyond ROBOTS SPACE EXPLOSIONS COOL! By the time The Empire Strikes Back was released, I was an oh-so-sophisticated second grader who was beginning to recognize the importance of human relationships, and so I cried a little when Han got frozen in carbonite. (This was a much more reasonable reaction than that of my friend who was with me, who cried when C-3PO got blown up. So embarrassing.)

For the next three years, as a nation obsessed over whether Darth Vader really was Luke’s father, I obsessed over what was going to happen to Han. And what I really meant by that was, what was going to happen to Han and Leia? Because by then I was officially obsessed with the relationship between the princess and the smuggler.

There are a lot of things I love about Star Wars, but Han and Leia’s romance is the main thing that has kept me a passionate fan for 30 years. Why do they capture my imagination so? There are the obvious reasons: the witty banter, the contrast between royalty and rogue, epic love in the midst of war, the fact that they’re both really good-looking (I never said I wasn’t shallow). But the older I get, the more I appreciate the finer nuances of their relationship, that can often get lost in the crackle of their repartee.

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