Monday, August 27, 2012

Release Date Change: Star Wars Eps II & III Now Slated for Fall 2013

Tim here. In a surprise announcement out of Orlando, where the Star Wars Celebration VI event is taking place, Lucasfilm announced that Star Wars Episodes II Attack of the Clones in 3D and Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith in 3D will be released in theaters back to back in fall of 2013. The second and third prequel will be arriving September 20th and October 11th, respectively. No reason was given for the back to back release.

The dates were revealed in a very amusing manner: Via a video of The Emperor himself, Ian McDiarmid, saying the date, only for George Lucaswho it turned out was sitting beside him – to tell him to repeat what he said, “Faster and more intense.”

Earlier this year Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace in 3D was released in theaters. The original plan was to release the next 5 each year after that. Menace was released in February, and the push back to September for Clones may be to help the conversion, but as IGN reported earlier this weekend the footage shown at Celebration VI was impressive. You can read that full article here.

Some highlight impressions from IGN reporter Eric Goldman's experience (emphasis mine): "In the opening sequence of the Naboo cruiser arriving on Coruscant, the ship truly seemed to be coming out of the side of the screen. And there was a lot of cool 3D visuals in the footage we saw of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s speeder chase through Coruscant – especially when Anakin leapt from the speeder down towards Zam Wesell, and Anakin himself appeared to be a physically present figure, falling away from the viewer into the distance."

At the preview ILM’s Dennis Muren (Visual Effects on all six Star Wars films) and John Knoll (Visual Effects Supervisor on the Special Editions and the prequels) discussed the conversion process with the collected audience. They spoke about how meticulous and time-consuming it is— about a year-long in total for each film. As you all know it involves going through the entire film frame by frame to separate the elements and making sure the 3D looks correct while giving objects the proper amount of depth. In some cases, the shift in perspective in a scene has led to new digital work needing to be done. An example was shown from the end of Attack of the Clones... the scene where Palpatine and the politicians look down on the Clone Troopers and their ships. As the 3D caused a slightly different angle with blank spaces on the background which needed to be filled in. ILM had to use use the original matte paintings and backgrounds in order to fill that blank space in.

Since this whole process involves going back into a lot of the digital elements, Knoll admitted, “We might have archived things a bit differently if we knew we were coming back to it,” noting with Phantom Menace, they were dealing with elements from “13, 14 years ago. The backups only last so long. Sometimes the priorities on what you back up change over the time.” Knoll said the process had been easier on Attack of the Clones than Phantom Menace because, "The newer the film is, the easier it is to go into the archives and recover things." This makes a lot of sense.

During the closing ceremonies, the sizzle reel for Attack of the Clones 3D was shown again, along with a new additionthe first moments of the space battle over Coruscant that begin Revenge of the Sith, converted into 3D. IGN's Goldman says, "this tease of that scene from Sith – which was always visually stunning – was pretty spectacular, hinting that Sith, like Clones, has undergone a very impressive 3D conversion that is far superior to the one The Phantom Menace had."

I'm excited for the conversions of these movies. Although I wasn't a fan of the prequels, and have doubts the issues I have with them will be resolved from a 3D upgrade, I'm still interested. I'm most excited for the Original Trilogy to get the 3D treatment. However, I might add that the conversion on those could be more difficult because there are less digital elements.

The original IGN Article can be read here.

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