Friday, October 08, 2004

He Got It Right The First Time

I'm reading Return to Mos Eisley: The Star Wars Trilogy on DVD, and so should you. The basic thesis is that Lucas' original approach to the movies had a thematic integrity that his CGI fixes to it do not, and more importantly, that they do not preserve.

What made "Star Wars" so great in 1977 was Lucas' creation of a "used world", where things had been happening for centuries before the cameras showed up, and would continue long after. The sets, the props, everything was designed with that used look; Luke's speeder even looked third- or fourth-hand. But the CGI, mixed with that gritty realism, is too clean, too perfect. CGI props don't seem to move right, CGI characters (Jabba, among others) don't either, exactly. This isn't inherent to CGI, but it is, I think, the current state of the art.

This ties in interestingly with a lecture I sat in on the last half of at Nan Desu Kan this year, about 2-d animation techniques vs. 3-d ones. What I took away from that lecture was that 3-d animation is, in many cases, too perfect. It can be made better, but that takes a lot of work that isn't always practical to do.

An example: push your index finger into the palm of your other hand. Notice how when your finger contacts the skin, the knucles and skin deform, and the cuticle turns white around the tip. This isn't impossible to do in 3-d, by any means, but it's very easy to forget, and just have the finger touch the surface and not deform properly. Likewise, I think, the CGI in the revamped Star Wars movies detracts because the movie wasn't filmed with it in mind, so it jars the suspension of disbelief, because the world is gritty, and the CGI is not.

Anyway, while I realize and recognize 100% that George Lucas doesn't owe me a thing, I still would like to add my voice to those asking (not demanding, those people scare me) Lucas for a release of the original theatrical cut.

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