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Why Is This Incorrect?

In: Film and Music

Submitted By randomsuperdude
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It Started with a Vision

The creative mind of George Lucas has developed many different movies with different subject matter. Many of these movies, namely Star Wars, have pushed the envelope in the realm of special effects and sound. His demand for better special effects and sound increased the overall technology in the film industry, and continues to do so today with his company Industrial Light and Magic.

In all of Lucas' films, his main concern is getting his view across to the audience. He wants to portray his vision in the most vivid way possible so the audience can hopefully get a grasp of what message he is trying to get across, or what item he wants to address. Trying to get his idea across became an obsession for Lucas. The scene had to be almost entirely what he envisioned. In fact, Lucas would go to excessive lengths in creating a near perfect scene in comparison to other directors of his day. He further displayed his perfectionism when he wrote out screenplays. For example, "he only used No. 2 lead pencils, making his tiny print almost impossible to read" (Pollock 143).

On the set, Lucas was a mastermind and a compulsive creator of visual imagery. Off the set, he was a creative coordinator. He spent countless hours developing the plot, story line, and dialogues of his movies. He then spent what time he had left pitching those scripts and ideas, and developing new ones. George wrote in a letter to his wife during the filming of Star Wars, "I forget how impossible making movies really is, I get so depressed, but I guess I'll get through it somehow..."(Pollock 168). If a person lives largely in a duality of something (having a passion for it, and then occasionally hating it), why would they continue with that line of work?

Simple, Lucas had a vision he alone wanted to get across. "Ideally, George would like to come up with an idea for a film, have somebody go out and shoot it, and then get all the footage in a room so he could finish the movie all by himself, without anyone else imposing their ideas on him" (Pollock 217). He was a desperate man, compelled to go to great lengths in expressing himself artistically. However, George Lucas was not always like this. In high school, he was an outlandish rabble-rouser, and the epitome of "a rebel without a cause." The leather laden greaser wonder hung out with ruffians of a greater size than he, finding protection to back up his small 100 lb. frame, characteristic even of his senior year in high school.

Young Lucas' outlandish ways led him to an experience that would change the rest of his life. On Tuesday, June 12, 1962, he was involved in a terrible auto accident that left him injured and shocked in the hospital. George's father commented on young Lucas' reaction, "He saw his own mortality" (Pollock xvi). You could also say that George found some spirituality in his life. The accident also gave him some clarity about what he wanted to do with his remaining time on this planet, which he learned to appreciate and utilize. It was not just clarity that drove him, it was vision. It was not only a vision of what he wanted to become, it was an image of what he wanted to portray, founded on his new spiritual beliefs. On page 141 of Skywalking, George stated, "I am simply trying to struggle through life; trying to do God's bidding."

Star Wars displayed what Lucas wanted to depict regarding his spiritual side. He makes the purpose of Star Wars clear to author Dale Pollock in the book Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas. Dale stated "The message of Star Wars is religious: God isn't dead, he's there if you want him to be. 'The laws really are in yourself,' Lucas is fond of saying; the Force dwells within" (Pollock 139). This relation to God is not portrayed in all of Lucas' movies, but another important theme is characteristic of all his movies. Pollock states, "The major theme in Star Wars, as in every Lucas film, is the acceptance of personal responsibility" (Pollock 139). Clearly, George had a message he wanted to get across. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, a film had immeasurable value. Lucas recognized this and saw it as the perfect medium to reach a vast audience.

There was only one obstacle in his way, and that was making his vision convincing enough. It had to be as realistic as possible. What is possible usually is not enough for Lucas and his team of special effects artists at Industrial Light and Magic. For example, Lucas founded ILM in 1975 specifically "to get the effects he desired for Star Wars" (lucasfilm.com). The technology available from other special effects companies did not give him the ability to convey specific images to the audience. With the development of ILM's imagery came Skywalker Sound. Originally, it was known as Sprocket Systems, which was founded in 1975 as well. It was used in the mixing and editing of Star Wars. This allowed Lucas to manipulate the two major elements in movie production, light and sound. Even with all the new technological innovations that George developed and demanded, THX sound (a higher quality) and detailed model close-up shots, he still was not satisfied with Star Wars. There were some scenes that he could not possibly due because the technology was too limited.

In order to adapt to the technological innovations that were taking place with the emerging computer age, Lucas founded the Computer Division of ILM in 1980 (lucasfilm.com). This gave him some more freedom in the realm of object rendering and placement. He was able to superimpose images more efficiently, and was provided with better sound editing tools for audio-post production. He founded the computer division after the release of the second film of the Star Wars series entitled The Empire Strikes Back. This made it possible to apply this new technology to his the third and final movie of the Star Wars series Return of the Jedi.

In 1983, shortly after the release of Return of the Jedi, the Computer Division was reorganized to form the two entertainment companies Pixar and Games. At that point in George's career, he was on the top. He had all the money, the fame, the power, and the recognition he desired, and more. All of the companies and divisions he developed were creating new technology and techniques on their own. He gave the occasional creative input, but for the most part the creative supervisors were directing the technology tides. This left the actual construction of George's vision up to others under him. He just sat back, pushed the buttons, and fell into the role of ruling the empire. He continues to reign as the all-powerful creator today.

In the summer of 1990, ILM was presented with an enormous challenge. "[Director James Cameron] wanted a computer graphics character, a liquid metal terminator, for his next film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (ilmfan.com). An image of a realistic humanoid creature had never been rendered solely by a computer before. There were two reasons for this; the obstacle was never presented, and the resources to create such imagery were not available. There was a lot of weight on ILM's shoulders, because Terminator 2 would not be made if the character could not be rendered. ILM decided to take up the revolutionary assignment, but it required some extra help. "We hired animators and software engineers from all over the world," remarked effects producer Janet Healy. Not only did it take more workers, it took more technology. "We needed a lot of high powered equipment to generate these images," said ILM's effects supervisor Dennis Muren. "We now have sixteen big Silicon Graphics machines - which are mammoth processors - as well as six middle-sized and fourteen small-sized ones" (ilmfan.com). Such power surpassed that of a Cray supercomputer, which the government uses in their satellite programs. One can't help but notice the irony involved with this. Lucas is using this technology to promote responsibility and courage through entertainment means, while our national government uses it to provide a sense of courage to its people through military standards.

More recently, Lucasfilms has released Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, which is a prequel to the original Star Wars film series. It does not take much of a critic to notice that the special effects and sounds have improved dramatically from the original. Thanks to 3-D computer animation, with constantly upgraded programs such as SoftImage and Toonz, the special effects imagery in these movies becomes increasingly real. Those two programs alone can create startling images. Lucas' constant desire to push the media standard further continues the evolution of technological wonders in the realm of special effects. As for the rest of effects companies and studios in Hollywood, they are left behind Lucas.

Thanks to Lucasfilm's enormous capital, they are able to constantly upgrade their software, facilities, and sound engineering. The economic phenomenon known as supply and demand that exists between Lucasfilms and the graphic software companies pushes the standard even further.

George, with the help of his subordinates, continues to make movies more realistic for his audiences. He is convinced that his vision, whatever it may be for the corresponding movie, should be seen. He also desires that the messages behind the imagery should be heard. "...I think that every time you [make the imagery and sound more idealistic, the audience gets] a little more knowledge and it pushes the idea a little bit further" (Ebert 112). When will George stop? When will he be content? I believe his perfectionist methodology will propel him until his vision is near or at completion.…...

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