Modern movies are built upon special effects and CGI shots showcasing things we could only ever dream of. However, they weren’t always the smooth effects we think of today.
Pioneers of the 1970s and ’80s paved the way for the effects we see in today’s films. Light & Magic is a love letter to the industry from writer/director Lawrence Kasdan and Ron Howard.
The series highlights all of the behind-the-scenes action that pioneered the epic space opera Star Wars. Episode 1 takes us into the making of the original film and how everyone came together by chance to begin work.
Titled “Gang of Outsiders,” we begin with George Lucas explaining why he had to start his own effects company to bring the film to life. John Dykstra and Gary Kurtz we’re brought in to create this department and begin the journey of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).
The duo set out to find the best in the business to assemble their very own team, and ended up with a now well-known, star0studded cast. Phill Tippett, Joe Johnston, Richard Edlund, and Dennis Muren set to work in an old warehouse with a budget of $1 million to create this vision.
As they soon would find out, the technology they needed didn’t yet exist. Special effects were seen as a dead end for the time, and so they built from scraps and spare parts the technology to shoot shots such as X-Wings zipping through the trench of the Death Star.
The introduction of matte painting to create the backdrops of space that we see as well as using old model kits to “model smash” and create zombified versions, these starships were built with the mind that everything needed to be fast — George Lucas loved speed.
What we see as this first episode takes place is nothing short of a miracle. This group of industry misfits labored for months, and with only six months left until the epic release of Star Wars.
When George Lucas first came to them asking to see what shots they had for him to see, there were only two shots, the release of the escape pod and the Death Star gun firing. Needless to say, this was a great introduction for people who love behind-the-scenes work and the building of what would become a great empire.
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