Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Early CG in Star Wars IV

As I have recently been re-watching the original Star Wars trilogy, I thought I would write a post about the first use of three dimensional CG wireframe model rendering in film. It is fascinating to think that a 1970s computer had the capacity to create 3D models. We seen in the video that the creator of the sequence, Larry Cuba, was still working with dials to control and navigate around his work. It is humorous to note the time between each click when he uses his graphics tablet. Clearly the equipment he is using is not very responsive in comparison to the computers around today. Everything about this process is tedious and time consuming. He explains that he 'wrote a program' to combine the six trench modules to create the whole structure. He also describes the stop motion-esque method of recording the trench run simulation. It took 2000 exposures to show the approach toward the Death Star and through the trench. Just the thought of this drawn out method causes me to cringe. In programs today like Maya along with much faster computers, 3D models and animations can be created with ease. A playblast to preview an animation takes only seconds to be converted into a quicktime movie. Seeing methods such as this really helps one appreciate the evolution of 3D animation. The software and machines around today are highly advanced in comparison to the tools used by Larry Cuba, and it is hard to comprehend how much the tools for a 3D animator will improve in the future.

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