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

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They only mention Jar Jar once
Chip_douglas20 May 2005
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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What are these thousand little pieces of illusion doing here?
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews23 February 2008
After a brief verbal introduction by Lucas, presumably intended to get the viewer to believe that he really *did* have each film planned out, and that the prequel trilogy is what the original would have looked/been like, if only the technology had existed then(as has been pointed out elsewhere, with how much he complains about what the studio did to his films, one has to wonder if he simply doesn't realize that those of them that he didn't do all by himself were the good Star Wars movie), this goes over a lot of the digital work on Episode II. This is a feature-length documentary on just that, for that film, and is found, obviously, on the DVD of it, the 2-Disc release. I certainly was surprised, by some of the things that were animated... this is quite possibly the last thing one ought to watch if they do not wish to know(yes, hence my one line summary). It is, however, well-produced and -paced. At 52 minutes or so, this has a lot of information, and doesn't really spend too much time on any one thing. They talk about working on not making one particular part looking silly, goofy(if you've watched the movie, you may know exactly which is the one in question, and if not, you shouldn't know before watching)... I'm not sure many people would say that they succeeded. They cover several major, or even minor, animated characters. There are definite spoilers herein, so you shouldn't watch this before you've watched Episode II, unless you don't care about knowing what happens, going in. I recommend this to anyone who wants to know about the animation in Episode II, as far as characters go. 7/10
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