|STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKERTHE RISE OF SKYWALKERRISE OF SKYWALKERKATHLEEN KENNEDYGEORGE LUCASSKYWALKERSTAR WARS|
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
When the still-untitled Indiana Jones 5 was officially announced, its targeted release date was July 19, 2019. Since then, Disney has pushed back its release date several times, and though we haven’t gotten an update in several months, it sounds like director Steven Spielberg and star Harrison Ford are still on board and the project is slowly inching toward production.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy offered a quick Indiana Jones 5 update from the BAFTAs red carpet, which you can read below.
“We’re working away, getting the script where we want it to be and then we’ll be ready to go,” Kennedy told an interviewer from the BBC. “Harrison Ford will be involved, yeah. It’s not a reboot; it’s a continuation. He can’t wait. He absolutely is [up for it.]”
Considering all the delays, I suppose there may have been a chance that Lucasfilm had altered its approach to another Indiana Jones movie. After all, Harrison Ford isn’t getting any younger. If the film actually opens on its current release date of July 9, 2021, Ford will be just four days shy of celebrating his 79th birthday when audiences begin pouring in to see the movie. But Kennedy’s comment confirms that Lucasfilm is not interested in rebooting the franchise, and instead are committed to giving Ford one last ride as the famed archeologist/adventurer – and it sounds like the actor is eager to put the fedora on again. Sorry, Chris Pratt.
Back in 2016, Disney CEO Bob Iger was asked whether Indiana Jones might get its own full-fledged cinematic universe, akin to Lucasfilm’s other top-shelf franchise. “Not like Star Wars, no,” he said. “But we hope…right now, we’re focused on a reboot, or a continuum and then a reboot of some sort…we’ll bring [Harrison Ford] back, then we have to figure out what comes next. That’s what I mean.”
The fifth film has gone through the hands of several writers, including David Koepp, Jon Kasdan, and Dan Fogelman – and last we heard, it was back in Koepp’s hands. “I’m working on it again,” Koepp said in September. “We’re still trying. And I think we’ve got a good idea this time. We’ll see.”
Some fans still feel burned by 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Spielberg is definitely aware that he didn’t hit all the right notes for everyone that time around. “I think [Indiana Jones 5] is straight down the pike for the fans,” Spielberg said of the upcoming sequel a few years ago. “The one thing I will tell you is I’m not killing off Harrison [Ford] at the end of it.”
He also set up a sister postproduction facility in Santa Monica and launched EDnet to share video through fiber-optic networks.
Tom Kobayashi, the respected Hollywood sound engineer who ran George Lucas' Skywalker Sound postproduction facilities in Marin County and Santa Monica, has died. He was 91.
Kobayashi died March 3 in Bakersfield, California, his family announced.
After leaving the Lucas fold, Kobayashi in 1992 launched the Entertainment Digital Network, or EDnet, which employs fiber-optic networks to send high-quality video and audio great distances. Its then-revolutionary technology enabled the industry to link together talent, execs and production facilities at great cost savings.
A child of Japanese immigrants, Kobayashi was interned during World War II before serving in the U.S. Army from 1946-51. After graduating from USC's Marshall Business School in 1953, he began his career in Hollywood as an accounting clerk at a film laboratory.
Following more than two decades as vice president, president and COO of audio postproduction company Glen Glenn Sound in Hollywood, the well-connected Kobayashi was recruited in 1985 by Lucas to head his new Skywalker Sound division at Lucasfilm.
Kobayashi at first was tasked with completing the construction of the Technical Building, a 700,000-square-foot postproduction facility on Skywalker Ranch north of San Francisco. The studio was to be equipped with advanced digital-picture, sound-editing and mixing devices developed by Lucasfilm's Droidworks division, the computer/R&D arm that would spawn Pixar.
The studio was to be used solely for the Star Wars creator and his friends and colleagues. But after two films were completed — the 1988 releases Tucker: The Man and His Dream, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and Willow, produced by Lucas and directed by Ron Howard — it became clear a bigger business plan was required: Kobayashi would need to bring outside productions north to complete their films at Skywalker Ranch.
To help feed that pipeline, Kobayashi constructed a second post facility, Skywalker Sound South, in Santa Monica. Both facilities would flourish as dozens of films were made; among the first were Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989, Backdraft 1991 and Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991.
Meanwhile, Droidworks development work was restarted inside Skywalker Sound. In 1990, the EditDroid, an advanced computer film- and video-editing machine, found use in Hollywood, New York, Vancouver and Toronto, presaging the digital filmmaking revolution by more than a decade.
In 1992, Kobayashi and his engineers simplified postproduction by using digital telephone technology and new audio compression devices from Dolby. They connected the North and South ranches, essentially creating a 400-mile-long "digital...