Larry Cuba Shows How He Made the Computer Graphics for Star Wars: A New Hope

How do you evergreen special effects? If you’re Ridley Scott making Blade Runner, you do it through restraint and clever framing. If you’re George Lucas making Star Wars you do it through making images so iconic we kinda don’t care if they look dated and, in fact, aren’t to pleased when they get updated. Case in point are the animated sections of Star Wars: A New Hope. Here’s Larry Cuba on how he designed whose memorable animations, from CDM:

Cuba reveals some fascinating nuggets:

  • He worked directly from matte paintings and concept art and full-scale models (traditions that have come back into vogue lately on productions like The Mandalorian)
  • Drawing might have been a bit more work, but he’s actually able to animate and rotate the resulting model in real time – stunning stuff for the 70s (with knobs and dials – hey MIDI fans!)
  • There’s an extensive, elaborate digitization process translating physical models to digital ones – here with a pen, though see also the recent advances like Apple’s AR tools on iOS (which let you scan, though… this manual approach is cleaner and still sometimes better)
  • To translate to film, they had to manually expose each frame. There were no after-the-fact animations on the film.

See more!


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