Artwork courtesy of Joshua Stolte
Welcome back to the Star Wars HoloNet Digest, a weekly feature where I bring you a recap of the latest news from the world of Star Wars. Whether it’s an Episode VII rumor or a noteworthy author interview, you’ll find it here. Let’s check the HoloNet and see what happened in the past week.
We begin this week with an interesting look at video production technology from Lucasfilm. At the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ Technology Strategy Board event in mid-September, Lucasfilm’s chief technology strategy officer, Kim Libreri, discussed and demonstrated new post-production techniques that combine a video game rendering engine with motion picture video processing. The pioneering method, under development at Industrial Light & Magic, is expected to produce “a convergence in terms of traditional visual effects capabilities –– [such as] making realistic fire, creatures, and environments –– but working completely interactively,” according to Libreri.
The technology at the heart of Lucasfilm’s push to change post-production comes from their work on the canceled video game Star Wars: 1313. Libreri showed off a clip using 1313’s video rendering engine, as well as a short film that was “generated on a games engine with a lot of games hardware.” Lucasfilm, according to The Inquirer, which first reported this story, is convinced that “video games engines could be used in movies and could one day replace the post-production process.”
This technology probably won’t be ready in time for the decade’s most hotly anticipated film, Star Wars Episode VII. Nevertheless, the news and rumors about Episode VII keep on coming. There was a report that, contrary to reports from Latino Review and others, the film will not shoot in New Mexico. There was the news that the CEO of IMAX was meeting with J.J. Abrams “about the next Star Wars being used with partly IMAX cameras.” Just a few days ago, we learned that Saoirse Ronan confirmed having auditioned for a part in the movie. Separately, Latino Review (which first reported the rumor about Ronan auditioning) chimed in to say that 300: Rise of an Empire star Sullivan Stapleton also read for a role. We are passing through a dry spot as far as Star Wars movie news is concerned, so expect rumors and tidbits like these to keep popping up. For what it’s worth, I don’t expect any bona fide Episode VII casting announcements until December.
Next, I want to highlight something that J.J. Abrams said on PBS’ The Tavis Smiley Show on September 24. Abrams was asked about Disney’s plans for Star Wars, and his response honed in on a worry that many fans have with respect to tone of future Star Wars media is concerned. Addressing the fear of Star Wars getting the “Disneyfication” treatment, Abrams said:
The beauty there is Disney doesn’t want that. They are well aware of this and they are very careful to make sure that…they are sensitive to that. They don’t want that at all, that’s the last thing they want. But that company, which is Marvel, they have…it’s incredible the scale of that company. They are as aware of that as anyone.
On a somewhat more somber topic, Kotaku recently posted a lengthy story detailing the fall of LucasArts. It includes a lot of discussion about the various video game projects that came and went over the years, both Star Wars and otherwise. In particular, Kotaku looks at the saga of Star Wars: 1313, which went through many iterations before getting canceled, along with all other ongoing projects, when LucasArts shut down in April of this year. If you’re a fan of Star Wars video games and you’ve been wondering what happened to LucasArts, this article is definitely worth a read.
Speaking of Star Wars: 1313, IGN has a detailed report about a 15-minute 1313 demo that they had the chance to watch. Included in their report are multiple pieces of production artwork illustrating the parts of the game that IGN saw. The game would have started on Tatooine and followed Boba Fett on multiple missions, including one hunt through the underworld in search of a bounty. After reading IGN’s article, check out what an anonymous tipster told me about the potential for the game to resurface. Hope springs eternal. Star Wars: 1313 certainly looked like an amazing game, and based on that Kotaku article I mentioned above, it’s clear that Dominic Robilliard and his team put in a ton of work on it.
This is a big week in the Star Wars book world. J.W. Rinzler’s The Making of Return of the Jedi was released yesterday. If you haven’t picked up the book yet, I recommend checking out my post for The Official Star Wars Blog featuring ten interesting things I learned from the book, as well as my interview with Rinzler at TheForce.Net. I had a lot of fun poring through the book in preparation for both the interview and the trivia roundup. There was some pretty interesting stuff happening on the production at Lucasfilm that was completely new to me. Rinzler himself wrote a StarWars.com blog post about a discarded plot concept from “Revenge of the Jedi.”
In addition, there’s even more literature goodness on The Official Star Wars Blog, as it recently launched a new series highlighting unused material from Jason Fry and Paul Urquhart’s The Essential Guide to Warfare. The first post deals with the essential guide’s original prologue, which centered on the mysterious Celestials, one of the galaxy’s earliest sentient species.
In closing, I want to remind our readers that Star Wars Reads Day is coming up on Saturday, October 5. If your local bookstore is hosting a Reads Day event, it’s worth dropping by to peruse their Star Wars books and meet fellow fans –– and possibly, depending on where you live, a Star Wars author as well. A complete list of registered events can be found in this PDF. I’m also happy to reveal that this Friday’s episode of The ForceCast will be a special Star Wars Reads Day “pre-game show,” featuring guests from Lucasfilm and the Star Wars author community. You won’t want to miss it when it hits our website, iTunes feed, and other channels on Friday morning.
Eric Geller is a college student majoring in political science whose interests include technology, journalism, and of course Star Wars. He reviews The Clone Wars TV series and manages social media for Star Wars fan site TheForce.Net. He also co-hosts The ForceCast podcast. He is originally from the Washington, D.C. area.