Posts by tag: #Intergalactic #Magic #PropStore #StarWars #Lucas JohnDykstra

John Dykstra: Intergalactic Man Of Magic Part 3

Written by the Prop Store team

Tales abound of ILM being more like a university quad than a serious postproduction house. Hell, there was a hot tub in their parking lot. Another such anecdote stars the escape slide of a 727 passenger jet from a nearby industrial yard that was re-appropriated by the ILM brain trust and turned into a makeshift slip-and-slide in the same parking lot that would eventually house the Death Star trench. “[ILM] was described as ‘the country club’ by the executives and, I would assume to a certain extent, by the people who were on the production,” Dykstra recalls.

John Dykstra: Intergalactic Man Of Magic Part 2

Written by the Prop Store team

For the explosion shots, Dykstra’s team built effects models that were pre-ordained to die out of a breakaway mold-making material that master modeler Grant McCune brought to the table called “fast tool.” “I didn’t want it all just to go bang,” Dykstra says. “I wanted it to go bang, bang, bang, bang, and, you know, have different parts explode at different times.” To create the appropriate symphony of bangs, ILM tweaked the chemistry of the fast tool in order to manipulate the material’s structural integrity to their needs. The internal parts of the pyrotechnic models also had to be painted so that discerning viewers going through the film in detail would not be able to pick out bare fast tool fragments tumbling through space. As with most of the STAR WARS visual effects, the exploding ships were not a simple, one-element process. Each explosion was the result of detailed compositing. “In some cases, we shot bigger explosions to overlay over existing, smaller explosions to help give more punch to it.” In the days before computer-generated anything, this compositing was not a quick process. It was often frustrating and always delicate and tedious.

John Dykstra: Intergalactic Man Of Magic Part 1

 Written by the Prop Store team

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

While Arthur C. Clarke’s third principle of scientific prediction is most often applied to science fiction storytelling, it could just as easily be used to describe the age of enlightenment that began in cinematic visual effects in the late 1970s thanks to a little film called STAR WARS. The chief sorcerer behind the film who led the renaissance of not only visual effects, but also the entire movie business, was a 20-something engineering kid from Southern California named John Dykstra. In a recent discussion, he looks back on the experience of creating the STAR WARS universe from nothing more than a script and George Lucas’s unique vision.