FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS OF EPISODE II TEASER
From the Anonymous Director:
1. Who all was involved with the creation of the Episode II trailer?
I came up with the idea to do the work. The structure and format of the trailer paid homage to the Episode 1 and Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition trailers. If it works, don't fix it. Since I couldn't really use clips of characters with dialogue from other films (since it would absolutely not make any sense), I was searching for character shots which mainly comprised of close-ups and head turns. Basically, each first character shot is an introduction to that person. I wanted to capture a mood and visual design which I thought would convey my feelings as to what Episode 2 should look like - notice the many dark, night-time shots as well as the dramatic and serious expressions from the actors. After I had the general idea and plan in mind, I had to execute the work. This required searching through many, many films and looking for shots that could pass as being Star Wars - whether it be an actor/actress, an environment, a battle, a space shot, an explosion, etc. Once I found shots I thought were acceptable, I decided to play around with different versions of the cut. I would constantly play the versions to a couple of close friends, Star Wars fans in their own right, and see what they thought of my choices. Then, at least, I had an audience who could tell me if I succeeded on some shots and failed on others. After the cut was locked, then I needed help with adding visual effects to make it become Star Wars. I used the kind talent and skills of a friend of mine. We utilized his creativity to create realistic shots, which normally would have no Star Wars connection whatsoever. Then, of course, he was able to provide the title work at the end to make that realistic as well.
2. What is an Avid system?
An Avid Media Composer is a program which pretty much is the film industry standard for editing movies. The film gets transferred/telecined to videotape. Then the videotape is digitized into the computer. You then are able to edit on film frames (because of calculations the computer can provide). However, since this work was never going to be output to film, I maintained a video frame rate throughout (30 frames per second). I used the Avid to create an Edit Decision List of my offline edit. Then we took that list into the Flame to make an online, high quality master tape.
3. What is a Flame system?
Flame is a program produced by Discreet Logic. It is a system used for video visual effects - compositing, titles, effects, wipes, etc. It is often used in the music video industry for all the effects you see on MTV. So my artist friend was able to generate all of the visual effects within this high-end computer system.
4. When did you start working on the first trailer?
I believe it was in September of 1999 when I started my first cut of the trailer. It was really inspired because I was a wee bit disappointed in Episode I. I thought if I could create a work which would provide me some faith in the saga, then perhaps I'll be able to make it to May 2002 in a positive frame of mind.
5. When was the first trailer released with Leo?
I believe the trailer went online on TFN's fan film theater in October of 1999. Notice Jar Jar is missing from that cut. My newest, final cut includes a quick, harmless, non-talking shot of Jar Jar - just acknowledging that he is indeed back. (Unfortunately)
6. When did you start working on the 2nd trailer?
I started the new, revised trailer when Hayden Christensen was announced as Anakin. I found out he was on a cable television series. So I decided to record some of these episodes of Higher Ground from Fox Family Channel. Then, when I found shots which could work, I spliced him in over the DiCaprio footage. After that came along nicely, I asked my effects artist to contribute some additional work to spice up the footage. And then, soon after, the announcements of Jimmy Smits and Christopher Lee came out. So, I felt obligated to add them to the trailer. Since there were strong rumors at that time on behalf of Gabriel Byrne and Christopher Walken being in the cast as well, I thought the fans would like a glimpse of these actors in the Star Wars galaxy as well.
7. What were the hardest shots?
The composited shot of the 4 Boba Fetts was the most difficult, just because it involved many elements and required several moving mattes in order to comp everything together somewhat seamlessly. Yes, we know the lighting and perspective is a little off in that shot, but it's so fast that the impact provides a winning shot. Another difficult shot was the opening shot of the Braveheart mountains with the additional flying spaceships. And, of course, the hand animated lightsabers in the Braveheart army shots were very time consuming.
8. What would you recommend for others who want to attempt to do this?
Take chances and follow your heart. And it doesn't hurt having free access to some high tech tools. If you don't, then do the best with what you have available.
9. What was the final output quality like?
We actually took the offline cut from the Avid and brought in all the footage into the Flame at their original quality. The Flame captures uncompressed video. So if my source material was a DVD, then the output picture quality would remain as DVD quality. Hence, my final output went to a D1 digital tape to maintain that DVD picture. Not all of the shots came from DVD, but the final edit looks quite stunning on the digital D1 videotape. I originally wanted to give away copies of the trailer on DVD. But that idea was too cost prohibitive, and I don't think Lucasfilm and Fox would be too appreciative of that. So the internet quicktime was the way to get the work out to the fans. It's a shame though, because if you saw my final master of the trailer, it's completely different (in a much better image quality aspect) than the small quicktime you watch on your computer monitor.
10. Which shot are you proudest of?
My favorite shot is when Hayden (Anakin) ignites his saber and walks off into battle. I feel great pleasure in knowing that I shared this moment first for the fans, even though it's a completely fabricated moment. Nonetheless, here we see young Anakin with his lightsaber for the first time. :) I know that gets me excited. I hope it does the same for you too.
11. How did you do the sound mix?
The sound mix was created on the Avid. I digitized the music from CD. I pulled some specific audio clips from an official Star Wars CD-ROM from a few years ago. I also digitized sound effects from the Star Wars films, as well as other films. Then I layered and mixed these sounds and music together to create a full, rich sound texture to strongly support the visuals. I think the combination of the sound and picture create a stunning work. And from the email responses so far, I hear that the fans agree.
1. What software did you use to compress the trailer for the internet?
I used Terran Interactive Media Cleaner Pro on my Macintosh G4 to actually compress the film.
2. What work did you do on the film?
The film audio was too soft and needed to be made louder. Also, after I came back from ComicCon and the trailer was such a hit, I needed to add the THEFORCE.NET watermark so people knew where the film came from. I created the logo in Adobe Photoshop and added it to the video in Adobe After Effects. I added the louder music and edited opening and closer in Adobe Premiere. This uncompressed file was then imported into Media Cleaner Pro.
3. What codec was the film captured in?
The film was given to me from the master as an 8 mm. I captured it using the DV Soft codec and kept it in this format until it was finally compressed in Media Cleaner Pro.
4. What codec did you use to compress the film?
I used the Sorenson Pro codec. It differs from the regular Sorenson codec by the quality and compression capabilities. It is the exact same codec used by LucasFilm for releasing the Episode I trailers online.
5. What do I need to view the film?
All you need is Quicktime from Apple's website. Download it from here.
6. Why can't I hear music?
The film is compressed using QDesign2 audio codec. This great codec is only available on Quicktime 4. You probably have Quicktime 3 or Quicktime 3.2. You will need to upgrade to Qucktime 4.
7. How can I save the Trailer to my hard drive?
Right click (or hold Control + Click on the Mac) on the Trailer link (large or small) and choose Download Link, Save Target As, or
Save Link As.