Posted on October 23, 1999
Last night I attended a fascinating lecture given by Doug Chiang, the Design Director for ILM and one of the main brains behind Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. It was a real eye-opener in terms of how much I have yet to learn in this field. The lecture consisted mainly of Doug showing slides and commenting on the different designs he created for Episode I. There was also a lengthy Q&A afterwards, but I really couldn’t think of anything intelligent to ask (though that didn’t stop others).
Most of the lecture was very inspiring, especially the parts about how different animals influenced the design of certain vehicles in the movie (for example the Federation battle-tanks were designed to look like pouncing lions and the troop transports to look like charging elephants). It was really kind of scary to hear him talk about the creative meetings with “George” where sometimes only 10% of the designs presented were actually approved. I don’t know how long I would last under that kind of attrition (understandably, it was Doug’s love of Star Wars which saw him through).
One of Doug’s comments stuck a dagger into my heart though. He said that people today rely too heavily on computer aided design, and are sorely lacking in the artistic “fundamentals” of free-hand drawing. Of course he was describing me perfectly; I can barely write my own name so people can read it. I won’t let that keep me from trying to improve though 🙂
Doug was pretty careful not to let out too much about Episode II or III. He did say, tantalizingly, that the designs would become more “familiar” as the story progressed. My heart, as you can imagine, started beating the “Imperial March” at the thought of massive computer-animated fleets of Star Destroyers hunting down the Jedi. I can’t wait.
All in all it was a wonderful evening. I know all this is kind of “off-topic”, but I thought some of you might be interested.