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The New Force at Lucasfilm 183

conq writes "BusinessWeek has an interview with the heads of George Lucas' gaming and movie divisions, and discusses with them how they are getting closer and closer to integration. From the article: 'Pre-visualization, which is a big thing that George has been pushing lately. It's a tool that directors would use to quickly mock up the ideas of a story and see what's going to work. It's really like building up a preview of a movie in a video game world. Instead of using static story boards, you can really just get in and create 3D content and camera moves directly. It's the best example of the kind of collaboration we've got going on.'"
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The New Force at Lucasfilm

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  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Propagandhi ( 570791 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @11:27PM (#15008317) Journal
    Definitely seems useful for making movies, but I don't see how George Lucas could use this. Isn't he in the business of shattering childhood memories??
    • Only if he can make a buck at it. Otherwise he's into marketing dolls..er.. action figures.. yea that's it.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:1, Funny)

      by gijoel ( 628142 )
      Isn't he in the business of shattering childhood memories??

      Yeah, but now he can capture that moment when we're about to burst into tears in the privacy of his own home.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gleng ( 537516 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @04:39AM (#15009165)
      Lucas is like that kid you knew at college, who had all the best guitars, amps, effects pedals, and recording and mixing equipment, but was still having trouble stringing three chords together.

      Still, he's earning more in a second than I do in a month, so he must be doing something right.

  • Yep... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It helps tremendously. Just look at how Episode I, II and III turned out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27, 2006 @11:27PM (#15008321)
    Everytime they asked me to do something I didn't want to, I'd be unable to resist saying "But I wanted to go to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters."
  • Full Throttle (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 )
    I have fond memories of the LucasArt game Full Throttle [amazon.com] , which has one badass protagonist, some hilarious music, and a couple of amusing references to that film franchise Lucas is known for. Anyone know if a sequel is in the works?
    • Re:Full Throttle (Score:4, Informative)

      by Squigley ( 213068 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @11:54PM (#15008438) Homepage
      There was a sequel in the works, "Hell on Wheels", but because it didn't have enough Star Wars content, it got axed, nearly 3 years ago.

      There was a press release about it getting axed, but that most not have had enough Star Wars content either, and it's been deleted, and you get redirected to the home page.

      There's a brief article here: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/fullthrottle2 /news_6073105.html [gamespot.com]

      And a bit more here: http://www.adventuregamers.com/article/id,183 [adventuregamers.com]

      God I wish Lucas would get over the whole Star Wars thing already.
      • Same thing happened to the Sam & Max sequel. The original was a real classic, on the same level as Monkey Island. The idea that the adventure genre has magically become obsolete is such crap.
        • The whole "talkie" line of LucasArts games was sweet. Who can't love something as utterly rediculous as DOTT, or indeed Sam & Max. Heck, I'll still break out Fate of Atlantis on occasion - there's just something appealing about a psychic/supernatural communicator being posessed by a small-horned God-creature shortly after you took control of a Nazi U-boat with a combination of sucker punches and battery acid that keeps you always coming back for more.

          Hmm... digital crack. Uh-oh.

  • Pre-visualisation? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Audent ( 35893 )
    You mean, there was actually a vision? With the Star Wars prequels?


    Come on, it was bad enough Han Fired Second but to make Yoda into Hong Kong Phooey and Darth Vader into a whiny teen... puhleeze.

    Worst Use of Natalie Portman Eva.

    Some actual visualisation would be nice.
    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday March 27, 2006 @11:43PM (#15008391)
      I hated Episodes I & II and still haven't seen Episode III.

      But, look at each still shot. They look good. The characterization sucks. The plot sucks. The dialog sucks. The timing sucks. The motivation sucks. None of it has any logical flow behind it.

      But the still pictures are very nice.
      • > The dialog sucks

        Worse than sucks; it's unnecessary. If you eliminate the dialogue entirely, not much changes. It's that visual. The dialogue adds ... not much positive.

        Every word after Obi-Wan cuts off Skywalker's legs is a negative, e.g. "I loved you man!" is something no actor needs to say; it's evident from the acting. The worst lines in all six movies is when the dying Portman (shades of "Love Story") says, "I think I'll spoil one of the plots points of the next movie by telling the audience th

        • The line is "You were the chosen one" and it is one of the best lines in the moive.
          • According to this [imsdb.com], both lines are in the film.

            OBI-WAN: (continuing) . . . You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would, destroy the Sith, not join them. It was you who would bring balance to the Force, not leave it in Darkness.

            OBI-WAN picks up Anakin's light saber and begins to walk away. He stops and looks back.

            ANAKIN: I hate you!

            OBI-WAN: You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.

            Of course, the very worst dialogue was between Anakin and Padme. Episode II was so painful.

        • Every word after Obi-Wan cuts off Skywalker's legs is a negative, e.g. "I loved you man!" is something no actor needs to say; it's evident from the acting.

          I think that whoever directs the next one (in 2020 or whatever), or even if someone could re-cut the current film, needs to crop out all the superflous dialog. A deeply pained expression, a furtive glance, a slight nod; these are the things that I saw that could have replaced the pre-teen bor-a-thon dialogs. Just think if Lucas and Co. realized that
          • The whole of the '1st' 3 episodes basically just explain things that were all implied from the original 3 episodes - for those that want to watch the series in order, every single piece of plot is ruined. It would be better if you didnt find out about Luke and Leia at the end of episode 3 - and what on earth is the point of have R2 and C3-PO apart from just to make people go "w00 artoo and seethreepee-ooooh!" etc. The whole thing is a waste of time - there are plenty of Star Wars books, none of which I've r
        • > Every word after Obi-Wan cuts off Skywalker's legs is a negative, e.g. "I loved you man!" is something no actor needs to say; it's evident from the acting. The worst lines in all six movies is when the dying Portman (shades of "Love Story") says, "I think I'll spoil one of the plots points of the next movie by telling the audience that Luke has a sister named Leia on Alderan."

          You note that he shouldn't have had to say the lines, and you're entirely correct, but that was one case in the movies that I
          • Fair 'nuf! I too enjoyed the movies, all of them, the same way I enjoy comic books: without shame and without expectations. And definitely not for the words balloons.

            It must have been painful for the actors; perhaps they used the pub method as well.

      • The characterization sucks. The plot sucks. The dialog sucks. The timing sucks. The motivation sucks.

        Actually, the charaterization and plot were far beyond what Lucas did in the Original Trilogy. It's just that whiney, disgruntled "George Lucas Raped My Childhood" fanboys can't reconcile these facts when faced with a minor character like Jar Jar and five minutes of difficult "love" dialog.

        I think I speak for the entire Star Wars fan community when I say, with all candor, "quit your fucking bitching alre

        • Sorry but the results are in, the SW prequels suck. The only reason the "first three" were any good was that Lucas as a budding writer actually listened to advice from other, more skilled writers, not so in the prequels.

          George Lucas paints pictures with a baseball bat. The dialogue in all three prequels is downright painful if you have even a passing interest in writing.
        • by Nasarius ( 593729 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @12:49AM (#15008623)
          I think I speak for the entire Star Wars fan community when I say, with all candor, "quit your fucking bitching already".

          Maybe you do. I used to be a huge Star Wars geek. I read all the novels, bought the "reference books", absolutely loved the X-Wing games, etc. I quit when Episode I came out. I don't see how you can even compare the quality of the prequels with the incredible stories that other authors have written. Not just Zahn, but nearly every writer has come up with far better material than Lucas. The stories suck. The dialogue sucks, and not just the abysmal Anakin/Padme crap.

          • You consider Darksaber better than Episode I?
            • I did say *nearly* every. In defense of Kevin J. Anderson, Darksaber was a sequel of sorts to Barbara Hambly's "Planet of Twilight", which was much worse. On the upside, neither had Jar-Jar or an annoying kid. I think. There were some awful novels with Han and Leia's brats, too. Okay, so not all of it was gold.

              But we're talking about movies where millions of dollars were spent creating the CGI effects. I expect they could have at least hired an editor to clean up the dialogue, you know?

              • I think I read it somewhere in an interview in a Playboy article. "A Star Wars movie wouldn't be a Star Wars movie if it had good dialogue."

                Quit your whining already. I actually enjoyed Episode II and III's stories.
                • Hear hear. Some people act like episodes 4-6 were something other that rather wooden acting, fireworks, and lots of imagination.

                  I'd say the people who complain endlessly and needlessly about 1-3 have simply forgotten how to be a child.

                  • I'd say the people who complain endlessly and needlessly about 1-3 have simply forgotten how to be a child.

                    That's probably closer to the truth than you realise. Most of those people will have first seen (and fallen in love with) 4-6 as a child, and as such they have a special signifigance to them.

                    They've seen 1-3 as adults, with an adult's view of things, and they simply can't compare to their childish recollection of 4-6. Sure, they've seen 4-6 as adults too, but you know the old saying, "first impressions
                    • Absolutely. Some memories will never have their equivalents. Many modern first-person shooters are much better than Doom. Will Doom ever lose its glory in my mind? Never! You can't replace the first time you see a Cyberdemon or play a deathmatch game. That said, you can be objective about it and enjoy more recent titles.

                      I never understood how some people somehow take things personal when they don't like the direction something has taken and act all offended about it.
              • They should have hired Bioware to completely rewrite them...
        • No, the all the characters from the original trilogy (with the possible exception of Luke, at times) were very well characterized, well acted. The prequels, on the other hand, regularly make people visibly cringe--Jar Jar, whiney teen Anakin shouting "it's not fair!", Dax the four-armed alien who swoops and soars over his lines so badly I'm nearly positive the voice actor was stoned out of his head, bad romance, Vader's "Nooooooooooooooooooooooo"--so retarded it puts Luke's "Nooooooooooooo" to shame...

          • As someone else said, I don't think you can speak for all of us--plenty of Star Wars geeks think that the prequels suck... usually it's those of us who have an ounce of objectivity. This isn't just rose-colored glasses.

            With all respect, "Bah!" Objectivity has baptkus to do with it. I claim that all the GLRMC haters out there suffer from "Boba Fett Underoos Syndrome". You all have a preconception of the original films from when you were young, impressionable, easily impressed, and loved playing in your

        • Actually, the charaterization and plot were far beyond what Lucas did in the Original Trilogy.

          That's only because Lucas didn't direct Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi. The reason he did more for the prequels was because he wrote and directed all three of them--the quality of this increased contribution is debatable.

          I love Star Wars, and even if the prequels were complete insults to cinema (which I don't think they are) that's not going to change. However, I do think that JarJar added nothing t
        • Is it also whining when we complain about the suckage known as the matrix sequels, or are you going to defend those turds too.

          All of these sequels should never have been made, because they have the effect of diminishing the original, all for the sake of more money. Lucas is especially culpable in that he rewrites the original. It is not just Jar Jar and badly acted love scenes (I almost said Jar Jar in badly acted love scenes, hopefully Lucas doesn't read this and get ideas for 7).

          It is inconceivable for a
          • It is inconceivable for a writer to rewrite his/her fiction novels

            Three words for you, pal. "Bull fucking shit".

            If you pick up a copy of "The Hobbit", you will find that there are some glaring differences when compared to the first printing of the story. In the original When Gollum lost the riddle game, he was a good sport - showing Bilbo to the door and letting him keep the Ring . Read that again, slowly, and imagine how pointless the Lord of the Rings would have been if Tolkien *hadn't* revised his

            • Never read / seen LOTR, but looked thru the Wikipedia entry for Tolkein, it sounds as this might not be the same type of thing - he altered the original work that had made him a success, in order to construct a framework for a larger fiction world and subsequent novel.

              Furthermore, revision seems to be a SF only thing. Perhaps from the scientific method?

              Seriously, if you're OK with all these alterations, you'll find it's really going to suck 20 years from now when the LOTR you love and treasure is altered to
          • It is inconceivable for a writer to rewrite his/her fiction novels

            Lots of authors do that. One major (in SF terms anyway) is Michael Moorcock. Many who later become more famous can republish their earlier works and take the opportunity to revise or restore cuts. But sometimes, like Lucas, it proves to be an ill-advised ego-trip. Heinlein, for instance, released versions of his novels with cuts restored, eg Red Planet with an additional lecture about gun rights; proving only the wisdom of his original edit

            • Heheh, Forever War has a similar "author restores a cut that was a good idea" - second chapter shows the world has turned into something between inner city LA and a third world country warzone - it was rather over-the-top. The original version that the editor had insisted on was a F451-esque brainwashed world. The problem is that he left in dialogue referring back to the F451-world when he restored his original chapter, so there is comments complaining about how brainwashed people were in the 21st century
          • All of these sequels should never have been made, because they have the effect of diminishing the original, all for the sake of more money.

            The Matrix was ripped off [slccglobelink.com] from a science fiction writer who submitted her script to the Wachowski Brothers in the 1980's. An FBI investigation and court proceedings decided that they had indeed stolen her work and awarded her damages. In fact, thirty minutes of footage was edited out of the original because these segments were verbatim plagiarism of the original work.
        • Actually, the charaterization and plot were far beyond what Lucas did in the Original Trilogy. Uh, no.
        • "quit your fucking bitching already".

          oh yeah - thats what im talkin about

          not a star wars fanboy - just reakon the films are a blast ... and slashdot posters become a bigger bunch of whiney anakins evey day ..
        • Thank you! Its about time there was some sense in the Star Wars community. The movies, despite their problems, weren't THAT bad.

          Sure, Anakin Skywalker went to the darkside because he was desperate to prevent his visions of his wife's death from coming true. No one would ever be tempted by the devil to save the woman (or man) they love from death?

          And yeah, that love dialog from Episodes II and III sounded like it came from two socially inept, isolated teenagers who had never been encouraged to explo
      • But, look at each still shot. They look good.

        Really? I thought it looked like one huge computer game. Is this what passes for special effects these days? 2001 had more realistic looking space ships and that's ancient.
  • Mocap suits (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Runesabre ( 732910 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @11:31PM (#15008342) Homepage
    They could (if they haven't already) hook up actors with mocap suits or whatever devices needed to translate live actor movements instantly onto the 3D avatars on the virtual stage to really speed things up.
  • Droidmaker (Score:2, Informative)

    by Doytch ( 950946 )
    For anyone interested in the Lucasarts story, including the kickass games, I heartily suggest the book Droidmaker. I got it and it was an awesome read. Lucas was involved in a helluva lot of stuff.
  • How hard is it to visualize a shot?

    #1. If it is real life with real actors, you already have years and years of experience looking at it in 3D. It's called "life".

    #2. If it's computer animation, it's fake so it doesn't matter. They create what you want them to.

    This is where "art" comes in. It's not just directing, it's lighting and cinematography. Playing with a toy isn't going to make your movies any better.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't think you really understand what goes in to creating a film. For each scene in a film, there are practically an infinite amount of possibilities for the lighting, movement and position of actors, camera placement and angles, and any combination of the above. A storyboard is usually laid out for to get an idea for the general flow of the film. Then, even the best director will usually whittle down the possibilities to a handful or more...for many, many scenes. For each blocking combination, the type
    • Secondly, is visualization really what Lucas needs help on? The special effect and action sequences were pretty stunning (the story behind RocketD2 and Kung Fu Yoda were lame, but looked cool), but the dialog and actual *acting* scenes were pretty lame. I think what they need a team of voice actors to actually say this stuff while they're writing it down ... maybe early enough in development that they could hear how terrible it is.
    • by Chabil Ha' ( 875116 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @01:33AM (#15008745)

      Sounds like a toy for mediocre directors.

      If you think that Peter Jackson is a mediocre director, sure. The Lord of the Rings included *numerious* pre-visualization shots. If you watched any of the bonus content on the DVD's, you would see some of the pre-vis stuff on the Mines of Moria scenes where the Fellowship is being chased by the Orcs. I think the movie was fabulous, and if pre-vis made the movie any better (which IMHO it did) then let the mediocre directors continue their work.

      Visualization has at least two benefits that I think of right off the top of my head.

      1. You as the director may be able to visualize what needs to happen, but communicating that to other people can be difficult if you don't have ESP. This allows the artist to communicate an idea to other people via a medium that is easy to conceptualize. Yes, that's what story boards are for (like the article says), but

      2. It allows you to build a set without going through the costly motions of actually having to do it. This goes for virtual sets as well. While this method seems a lot more expensive than hiring a graphic artist to draw it in 2D story board cells, 3D permits you to make changes without having to redraw a whole frame, this in turn allows the crew to explore changes and make iterations very quickly. It also makes a good point of reference for those who are responsible for creating CG add-ins to the movie.

    • CG is a medium in which the possibilities are boundless. Previz is pretty much the main way that FX houses limit the work from 'boundless' to do-able in a fixed time with a fixed budget. And regarding the directors who use it - in my experience normally the more savvy directors use previz. I bet Hitchcock would have used previz if he had the chance - he planned the minutae of every shot.
    • Previsualization itself is nothing new. Shakespeare did it, Ansel Adams did it, etc... The technology changes over time. Shouldn't it? Not sure why you think its a tool for mediocre directors, when artists (working solo & collaboratively) having been using previz techniques for centuries. The alternative is to "just do it" and hope it works out for the best.
    • Let's pretend you are a director working on a movie and you have an incredible idea for a scene involving CG. It's actually an original idea, so you can't tell your tightwad producers, "oh it's kind of like this movie, but with elements from that movie." To try to get a bigger budget do you...

      a) Stand in front of them and attempt to describe in detail what you plan to do
      b) Spend a week with CG artists to be able to SHOW these producers what you can do with that bigger budget

      I think I'd pick B, how about you
  • by radiotyler ( 819474 ) <tyler@dappergee[ ]om ['k.c' in gap]> on Monday March 27, 2006 @11:48PM (#15008410) Homepage
    The series on Total War [totalwar.com] on the History Channel, where they use game engines to recreate epic battles. This seems to be a similar idea, except they're turning the mock ups into actual development scenes (before shooting them, redigitizing, and adding super special effects.) and not really using the engine for any sort of finished project.

    I hope ideas like that start becoming more commonplace. I like the idea of using 3-D digital storyboarding in realtime, it sounds pretty awesome. It'll be exciting to see if this turns into more of a production tool that ends up getting used in movie and not just in the development process.
  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @11:59PM (#15008450) Journal
    I heard somewhere that Lucas doesn't like directing actors because the actors may not act in the way he wants them to, and he prefers CG because the actors do exactly what you want them to do.
    • So what happens when George Lucas gets digital actors to do exactly what he wants? That dinner sequence in Ep1 where Jar Jar sticks his tongue out at Qui Gon Jin. Let George stick to poorly directing actors instead of poorly directing CG actors.
    • This is quite true and also one of the reason why Episodes 4, 5, & 6 were so much better. (Although admittedly still quite campy sci-fi). It's well known that Harrison Ford pretty much ignored all direction from Lucas and went with his gut.

      For example, in the famous scene where Han Solo is frozen in Carbonite, Leia says "I love you" and Han replies "I know." It's a great scene and fits the character of Han Solo quite well. Lucas was furious stating that he wanted Han Solo to reply "I love you too."

    • I heard somewhere that Lucas doesn't like directing actors because the actors may not act in the way he wants them to, and he prefers CG because the actors do exactly what you want them to do.

      George Lucas is an idiot. He bitched for years that the original trilogy wasn't what he wanted, they weren't his real vision, etc. And they were fantastic. With the prequels, he was promoting how his vision could finally be realized - and it sucked. He got what he wanted, and the movies were terrible. They were

  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @12:04AM (#15008466)

    Peter Jackson and WETA started using pre-vis before production began on LOTR.

    Other firms may have used it even earlier.

    • What Dracos said. [e-frontier.com] Then again, we're talking about the man who sold Pixar for a tenth of his asking price because he couldn't remember to plug his wife every now and then.
    • Read the last 3 paragraphs carefully.... the quote from the article doesn't really touch on the syngergy between LucasArts and ILM. It looks to me like ILM is trying to do coordinated game and movie development - probably using the same models, effect engines, artists and scripters.

      A thought comes to mind... did EA have any easy way [ea.com] to bring movie LOTR geometry in the game engine? More probably they spent lots of money: either on converting the models or remaking them to render in realtime on a console.
    • Peter Jackson and WETA started using pre-vis before production began on LOTR. Other firms may have used it even earlier.

      Yes and Lucasfilm was a pioneer of previs long before PJ and Weta. In fact Peter Jackson, Randal William Cook and a small group went to Lucasfilm around 1998 and visted ILM to see how previs was done there and later setup a dept. at Weta for the production of the first LOTR.

      You could say storyboarding is a kind of previs, and Lucasfilm was a pioneer in using animatics for previs pur

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @12:23AM (#15008539)
    Videogames will be a great aid to creating stilted dialog for Lucas' movies. What we can expect in episode VII:

    80-year old Hans Solo: What happen?

    Yoda: The bomb has somebody set up us, hmmm...

    A marketable purple gay alien chipmunk: We get signal!

    Reincarnated Darth Vader: AYBABTU.


  • by SynapseLapse ( 644398 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @12:33AM (#15008575)
    I saw that and for a split second I thought I would be seeing more from the old company that brought us Zak McKracken and Maniac Mansion. Some of us still fondly remember the old adventure games.

    I'm sick and tired of their recent obsession with 3d, it just doesn't look as good. I would love to see a 2d adventure game from them that would run natively at 1600x1200 and scale down to lower resolutions.

    Can anyone honestly look and tell me that this 3d Sam & Max [samandmax.net] has more artistic style than this 2d Sam & Max [samandmax.net]??

    Or this [samandmax.net] is better than this [samandmax.net]?

    I'm not opposed to 3d games mind you, lord knows I didn't buy this Nvidia board for running OO.org faster and Grim Fandango was utterly phenomenal. I'd just like to see Lucasfilm games, lucasarts, whatever, spend more time in making a well written, well crafted worlds and games, rather than just "Wow, it's an adventure title, but in 3d!"
  • Like Machinima? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Buddy_DoQ ( 922706 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @12:38AM (#15008589) Homepage
    Wait Mr. Lucas, you mean you're just now hearing about Machinima [machinima.com]? We've been doing it for 10 years now! Well, with Lucas on board maybe the market for niche pre-vis real time 3D tools will kick up finally. All I can say is, open source Lucas, OPEN SOURCE!
    • Not really, Lucasfilm and ILM has been doing previs for ages. Although as far as games engines use is concerned, one of the big first applications at ILM was duringb the production of Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence, where they built 2 systems.

      As far as the market, it has really exploded lately. One of the first using modern technology was Pixel Libertarion Front (they use Softimage), but people from Lucasfilm/ILM left and created 2 companies specifically geared towards previs: one is Halon Enterta
  • by beldraen ( 94534 ) <chad.montplaisir ... m ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @12:53AM (#15008630)
    The first thought about this is: What happened to imagination?

    The tools we use (like language) influence us in our choices and views. While greater tools can allow greater accomplishments, their purpose is should be to allow a complex process to be addressed simply, not to allow a simple process to be more complex.

    In computers, one of the best ways to get a real understanding of computer programming is to debug a program without a debugger. At most, using a couple of print statements to allow some additional helpful information. The advantage to a lack of information is that it requires A) truly understanding how the mechanism works which leads to B) attempting to keep the code human-readable.

    In places where a debugger is available, I have seen too often that the tool is use to simply find the problem and move on. After all, if I know that the loop is crashing, break the loop before the end of the run and see why it went too far. This is great for catching simple errors, and I do not knock the debugger for helping me realize that I accidentally incremented the wrong variable. What I do like is that people raised on debuggers generally cannot see anything other than simple operations. It will not explain why mutex is not being freed or many systemic problems; however, because he or she was never forced to think through his or her problems, the symptom of the problem (not the problem itself) is coded around at the location where the problem shows up in the debugger.

    I cannot help but think that while this tool will be used to model some nice things, but I think a lot producers fail to realize that most people will happily take some good acting, a reasonable plot line, and intriguing dialog over wiz-bang camera zooms. Thank God for Battlestar Galactic.
    • pre-production isn't about getting wiz-bang camera zooms. It's about getting the whole film from your minds eye to the screen so you can debug problems in story and structure before you encounter them on set, as well as giving everyone a good idea of what the director wants. This is just the digital equivalent of making good storyboards, and storyboards have been around forever. Alfred Hitchcock used to storyboard his movies and cut those boards down to the number of frames a shot should be. This technology
    • Good camerawork will improve a movie in ways that you really won't realize unless you actively look for it. It's not just about having the camera move and zoom to show what the actors are doing.

      Also, imagination is good, but currently it isn't directly transmittable to other imagination processors.

    • The first thought about this is: What happened to imagination?
      The whole idea of creating movies is about transferring imagination into a concrete represenation of that story. This is just adding an extra step, to ensure that the process is proceding correctly.
  • writing? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mccoma ( 64578 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @12:53AM (#15008632)
    how about you spend some of that money on actual writers.......
  • is this new? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dionysus ( 12737 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @12:55AM (#15008640) Homepage
    Hasn't Lucas always done pre-visualization? I remember the making-of documentary of Return of the Jedi, and they used Star Wars action figures to create the speeder chase scene. I would think the only difference between then and now is that they are doing everything in the computers.
    • Yes, they have been doing it for ages and Lucasfilm has been a pioneer in movie previs.

      What people seem to miss is what the article really is talking about. ILM and LucasArts for the most part worked with separate pipelines/infrastructures. Now that they're in the same facility in the Presidio, they share one. The new pipeline is based on Zeno, ILM's propietary 3D environment, which was first fully used on The Island and War of the Worlds (Zeno is actually based on dynamics code originally written for Star
  • Now they just need some snap in objects to pre-visualize character development. If these guys could make Natalie Portman look boring, imagine what they could do with animated actors (Jar Jar roles in his grave). -- Royal with cheese!
  • by Edmund Blackadder ( 559735 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @01:35AM (#15008748)
    Let me give you a good example of the "integration" of the movie and gaming divisions of Lucasfilm. I remmeber when I saw phantom menace there was a half an hour part of the movie that had nothing to do with the rest of the plot or the development of the characters.

    It was the pod race. I kept thinking "why is this in the movie" ... "and why in the world do they spend so much time introducing various racer characters which are obviously completely unrelated to the plot" ... "and why are the big jedi who are supposedly on an important mission waiting for this kid to race around" ... but then the pod race started looking familiar to me... it reminded me of a lame PS1 racing game called wipeout (i think). And then I thought wow ... they have this whole thing in the movie only so that they can sell a lame clone of a PS1 game.

    Sure enough a day or so after i saw people playing a wipeout clone which features the phantom menace pod race.

    I guess this is what they call synergy in the movie business.
    • I loved the part! It had nothing to do with the story but it looked great! I buy paintings (well, if I had money) because they look great so why wouldn't I watch some movie or part of the movie because it looks great. Only thing I like better in the Jar-j.. Phantom menace is the light saber dueling.
  • A few things.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by two.oh ( 721094 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @01:40AM (#15008759) Journal
    I'm worried about a few things that the article discusses. Yes, it sounds exciting that LucasArts and ILM are doing collaborating in the future. What I'm afraid of however, is that in the CG industry, there seems to be a technological 'progression' that trivializes the purpose of the traditional (ie. concept artists, storyboard artists, etc.)

    Sullivan discusses that pre-viz is a good and modern solution, but he doesn't mention that pre-viz can also be slower and less fine tuned than the work of a storyboard artist. Illustrators can offer style, better/faster continuity, and the ability to develop an entire shot rather than developing rough 3D-geometry. If it were up to me, I'd keep both around.

    So sure, the technology and tools get better, but it doesn't necessarily make a better film.

    Disney made that mistake with their cel animation department, and they all got laid off (thank god for Lassater).

    Square did it with Final Fantasy and threw away the storyline.

    ILM seems to be a very traditional studio in the sense that they follow a typical pipeline for production. I just hope they clearly understand the benefits of keeping these illustrators around.
    • Re:A few things.... (Score:3, Informative)

      by malducin ( 114457 )
      Yeah, ILM keeps a sizeable Art Dept. which does illustrations, sketches, concept art and the like. Also people in the Model Shop do sculptures and maquettes of concepts for pre-production.
  • While we are on the topic of George Lucas, let me be on the record as saying that Lucas is going to pull a Kerry and decide to go ahead and produce Star Wars 7 8 and 9. 3 was just too much of a downer to to be the last one made. You can tell me how right I am later.
  • F.O.R.C.E. == Flexible Optical Recreation [of] Cenematic Environments

    F.O.R.C.E. == Film Origination Realized [through] Computer Enhancement

    (in all seriousness though - this is what the Presidio was designed for - was to facilitate extremely high collaboration between the groups developing digital media. I think that (someone) will be successful (moreso than now) with this, I can only hope though that as this tech matures the "plastic-ness" of the generated movies will dissapear (e.g. King Kong)
  • It's the best example of the kind of collaboration we've got going on.
    I think the collaboration would be better, if it was simply someone with enough balls to say "Hey, George, an Amos and Andy alien is a titanically stupid idea. You should rethink that."

    Oh, and listening to him would be a good idea too.

    More technical gizmos don't make a basically bad idea any less bad.
  • First, drop the Star Wars franchise, at least for a decade. You have exhausted any creativity or appeal to this tired concept and ideas like television shows and new games will fall flat.

    Second, Lucas, the future of movies isn't in making everything a special effect. I am sure if George had his way he would have preferred making the last Star Wars film entirely digital, including the actors. For God's sake, there was more emotion and conviction in digital Yoda's performance then ALL the live actors combi
  • There's so many basic 3-D apps out there, with support for lighting, animation, cameras, etc., I'm suprised this is news, today. Maybe 10 years ago. Or are movie people behind the times?

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982