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From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters in 'Episode II' (2002)

For Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), there were to be many more visual effects than in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). This documentary shows many VFX ... See full summary »

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For Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), there were to be many more visual effects than in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). This documentary shows many VFX meetings between George Lucas and ILM. Many of these meetings focus around the creation of a completely digital Yoda, used for the first time in the Star Wars films. Written by Rhyl Donnelly

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12 November 2002 (USA)  »

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From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters in Star Wars Episode II  »

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This documentary is featured on the 2-Disc DVD for Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002). See more »

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They only mention Jar Jar once
20 May 2005 | by See all my reviews

Because the Episode I DVD featured an hour long doc called 'The Beginning', many unimaginative fans expected a similar behind the scenes look named 'The Middle' to head the extra's on the Episode II disk. Thankfully Lucasfilm is slightly more original than that. Of the three new documentaries on the making of 'Attack of the Clones', this one resembles the fly-on-the-wall style from 'The Beginning' the most, leading some people to speculate that this is all that's left of 'The Middle'. From Puppets to pixels mainly focuses on the evolution of Rob Coleman's baby, digital Yoda, but also has subplots for Dexter Jettster (supervised by former Photoshop pioneer John Knoll), Doug Chiang's work on the Kaminoans and even some digital stunt doubles.

George Lucas is revealed to be quite a stern task master, merging several different clay models together to create the Dexter he wants while the artists and sculptors take a step back. He is especially hard on the digital Yoda team, making sure the acting is believable without straying too far from the original puppet performance. It's funny to see Coleman show Yoda's progress to George sitting behind a home computer as if contributing to the IMDb, before passing on The Makers notes to his own servants who do the actual animating. It probably won't be long before Robbie C. gets his first directing job.

Moving on to principal photography, we see Ewan McGregor practicing scenes with voice actors Rena Owen and Ronald Falk before going it alone. Actress Susie Porter gets more screen time here than in the finished film, where she was replaced by a cg waitress. Cinematic giant Chris Lee is seen having his make up done by a girl on a box and is not amused by a limited edition Yoda puppet with paper vampire fangs. We also get a glimpse of the looping and voice over sessions, featuring that Zam Wessel chick and the son of one of the Goons returning as Watto. Frank Oz actually did all of his lines via satellite. Oh the wonders of digital technology.

Going over the Yoda fight scene, the first thing on the Lucasfilmer's mind is that 'the illegitimate child of Kermit and Miss Piggy' should move even faster. All the computer programmers laugh it up like the fuzzballs they are after that revelation. Yoda's cloak is also not moving Manga enough, and it seems to take forever until he is satisfied with the Jedi Master's final line in the picture. Sadly, the closer they get to their deadlines, the more this documentary loses it's narrative. It fades out one month before release as Coleman is having a final screening for his team. The most amazing revelation is that they actually had a digital McGregor in some shots and nobody noticed the difference. If only they could have used a digital Anakin.

7 out of 10


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