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HIVE EXCLUSIVE: George Lucas Sheds Light on ‘Star Wars' DVD

11 Sep, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

SKYWALKER RANCH, Calif. — Director George Lucas — in a rare interview — and creators of the first Star Wars DVD gathered for a press conference to discuss the special requirements and benefits of the format.

“The one real advantage of DVD is that it makes cutting the film a little less painful,” Lucas said. “[Industrial Light and Magic] guys [will] say you can stop working on a scene because it's only going intothe DVD. And we just set it aside. You know all that work and energy and everything…is not going to be lost.”

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's and Lucasfilm's Star Wars:Episode I — The Phantom Menace double-disc DVD, which debuts Oct. 16 at $29.98, was a complex undertaking, producers say.Rick McCallum, producer of Episodes I and II, likened the DVD to the creation of a small film. “We had to assemble a crew, start new art directors, new concept work, new designers, new supervisors that we hadn't worked with,” McCallum said. “It was a major effort.”

Although he was working on Episode II, Lucas took the time to provide audio commentary for the DVD. He also gave the green light for ILM to go back and finish seven scenes that he'd been forced to cut. Lucas saidhe'll employ the same process for the next two films, putting scenes aside to be completed later for future DVD release.

The advancement in technology between the time Episode I was filmed and the time the DVD was started allowed ILM to revisit shots that werepreviously too complex to do. The DVD was delayed more than a year after the VHS bow to make the best possible product, producers say.

“He (Lucas) had a bunch of animatics, about 217 shots, and he described what he wanted in every one of those shots,” explained special effects supervisor Pablo Helman. “It took about six months of work for ILM justto put all that together…. George encouraged us to come up with things that could not be done on the schedule of SW1 or just to explore the content and the characters.”

Van Ling was brought aboard as the DVD's producer, in addition to Helman from ILM. A documentarian edited 600 hours of “making of” footage into an hour-long documentary called "The Beginning," just one of numerous extras. At least one of the newly redone CGI scenes has been re-inserted into the movie. Ling, who created the award-winning T2: Ultimate Edition and Fight Club: Special Edition DVDs, provided the disc with an interactive menu based on planets from the first film.

Beginning with Episode I, Lucasfilm began documenting the creation ofthe new trilogy, providing plenty of material for future DVDs. Lucas noted, “In terms of ancillary material and other things that would gointo a DVD, I think it's smart to think about the kinds of material you might want to include in a DVD… and take care of that when you'reactually shooting the movie.”

The Star Wars films are expected to be released on DVD chronologically,which will give the DVD creators plenty of time to create extras for Episodes II and III, as well as for the original trilogy.

“The first three trilogies are much harder to put together a comprehensive package the way we did on Episode I,” Lucas said. “That's why we're spending more time on it and it's going to take more time because we didn't shoot very much behind-the-scenes stuff, and a lot of the material that we would normally include just didn't exist in those days.” Lucas explained that since the budget of the original Star Wars film was so low, there are few deleted scenes.

Although he makes the Star Wars films for himself, Lucas is glad that the DVD format gives fans bonuses. “I want somebody to feel that they got their money's worth,” Lucas said.

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