See How The AT-ATs Were Animated For The Empire Strike Back

See How The AT-ATs Were Animated For The Empire Strike Back

Industrial Light and Magic had a bunch of ideas, but ended up building giant models for stop-motion animation.

Filmmakers may be able to do more now with a computer-generated effects, but I think special effects were more interesting in the days before digital. If you agree, then you should check out this old featurette on the making of The Empire Strikes Back, posted the official Star Wars YouTube channel, detailing the process of making the AT-ATs walk during the battle on Hoth.

Dennis Muren, an artist from the Industrial Light and Magic effects team, explains that the team toyed with the crazy idea of creating five-foot tall moving AT-AT models, but ultimately decided to animate smaller models using stop-motion. Though they weren't as tall as a human being, Muren says the team made the models as large as possible without making them impossible to move by hand.

Some elements, like the models, are spectacular and creative. Others, on the other hand, are pretty mundane: The snow? Yeah, that's baking soda. That's "movie magic" for you, though: Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

Source: Star Wars

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This is one of the reasons I like the original trilogy better than the prequels (granted, there are a lot of other reasons, but still). To me, the films just look better with effects like this. I think it's because I can tell what's going on. You watch The Battle of Hoth and the space battle above Endor, and stuff is crazy, but you can still tell what's happening. There's a scene in Return of the Jedi where the medical frigate and a star destroyer are trading blows, and all of a sudden there's an explosion on the star destroyer. If you watch carefully, you see that it's because an A-wing flies in, shoots a TIE Interceptor, and it spirals out of control. In the prequels, there is just too much going on because resources aren't nearly as limited, so it becomes a "Let's see how much we can jam into this fight scene." I watch the battle of Courscant and most of the time all I can make out are bright lights and random explosions. Too noisy for my tastes.

That, and I feel that the special effects in the original trilogy look better because they look real, or at least the props and models do, when compared to CGI shiny space ships.

I'm kind of disappointed a five-foot robot AT-AT never existed but I far prefer this method to what we get now. People who do CGI don't seem to want to be subtle about it and you end up with amazing stuff which looks fake.

I wouldnt have guessed that even in 2013 practical effects are still better than CGI....

I'm sure it takes much more time, money and effort but I greatly enjoy the these kind of effects over CGI. Yoda was better as a muppet. Everything just felt more "real" in the original trilogy compared to all the CGI in the prequels.

Is it insanely quiet for anyone else? Even after double-checking my sound settings, it's hard to get the guy's voice to be much more than a low mumbling that's hard to make-out.

WhiteTigerShiro:
Is it insanely quiet for anyone else? Even after double-checking my sound settings, it's hard to get the guy's voice to be much more than a low mumbling that's hard to make-out.

The power of VHS, baby.

OT:
I miss these days. Kinda. I miss the quality of story from these days. Yeah I'll go with that. And I hope the Fett spin-off film after Episode VII will touch back on the original trilogy a bit.

 

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