Doug Trumbull, Berkeley, Turk George discussed on Maltin On Movies
In you name it sounds like now. South sounds fantastic. It's a perfect place for jack-of-all-trades so then at some point in the mid seventies this young Turk George. Lucas comes along and he wants to make an outer space saga. Well there's A. There's one segue in here this kind of important with regard to my story and that is. I went to work after A. I can't remember what happened. But Future General Stall I went to work for The Institute of Urban Regional Development at Berkeley and hired me on and I was. I became a professor and I have no idea. There was some contractual issue that requires that I teach so I went there and worked on a project That was is verbal racial development which was miniatures being photographed by miniaturized probe camera in representation of the environment and a comparison of that to photography done in the real environment. They were trying to pursue figuring out what components are necessary to deceive people thinking that they're seeing a real environment Interesting right which is perfect. It's like okay. Great so industrial design photography like building things and now I'm into deception. Seems totally appropriate considering what I ended up but What we did is we built a very small scale version of Marin county portion of Maroon County and had a camera that was controlled at that time by computer. The computer that we used to take up the wall of the room here and it was probably as powerful as your toaster oven in terms of computing power and it moved to camera around that environment and photograph this miniature and then they did the same route in a real car with a with a a full-sized camera and at the same speeds and then they had comparisons in which they are reviewed the people who saw the miniature version and the people who saw the live action version. And what their response. Where did they they go? Oh there was a red mailbox in that one. I really liked the horizon. The view was gorgeous from the middle of the Parkway or whatever and so that was there was a psychological it was a psychological component. Now This was Berkeley and it was a it was federally funded and so I got a hunch that there was some defense component in there somewhere but I don't know what it is anyway You had you had no interface with weaponry. So we didn't blow anything up and that was one of the things that one of the reasons I left because I'd like to blow things up which will come to later. Would sell the the upshot of this was I learned about computer controlling cameras and the interface between them and the photographic environment and all kinds of feedback on how miniatures relate to things in real life in terms of perceptual. How people look at a miniature version of this Particular drive and relate it to a live action version particular drive so I have secrets secrets that that was a useful Training ground for you then a lot area. Yeah Yeah his great. I enjoyed. I enjoyed working and happy. Good time lifting Berkeley and Was good life was good so finished up at Berkeley. And that's when Gary Kurtz and George Lucas called me up and said you know since grip and I read the script. I thought it was really fun. I go this is great. This is what could be better. I get to go I get to do. A dog fights in space. I was a pilot as well. I'll really yeah. I'd I'd been flying gliders for. I don't know it all together but since Doug's place and sleep is shoot. We were pretty serious about pursuing life in that motorcycles surfing you name it skiing you or was it was the thing that was so fun about working at Doug's places it was a it was a community was like a family and that was one of the things that I tried to bring to the company. Apogee when we formed our company later on coming later on in it was the paradigm was trumbull film effects. For how I pursued organizing which wasn't well received by everyone so some people think that you're there to work period the thing that's interesting about this you know it's 'cause you work with students all the time there's this manic energy that people of that age have and if you give them a goal and define at least the path you want to take and the strategic in result you find that that cell focusing all of those guys. I mean my friends. People I brought together for alum where people with whom I worked at Trumbull film effects and In other environments Related to filmmaking and on a personal level the guys who I rode motorcycles within flew with and all these other things with so it was it was a group of people who already knew one another. How shorthand had already worked in. The film industry already worked in a call. It lays a fair for lack of a better term environment where your job classification wasn't rigid. It was it was much more of a collaboration If you had a great idea it was to be considered What a lovely thing I think makes so much sense that you all created what you did because that kind of environment fosters everything. Well you think out of the box and you know it's everybody's got their own box. They're not all the same. So it's it's it's bringing a bunch of boxes together. The guy whose focus is on Making precision parts in combination with a guy who's focus is creating a camera in combination with a guy who has an application for a camera of a specific nature in combination with a guy who can build a computer system that will support the specific name of the camera that the guy has etc and all of these guys come in as individuals but are become a part of a family. If you want to call it out I don't know collaboration And it's it's great because there's everybody feels as though they're pursuing the same goal and everybody respects if you have good people they generate their own respect because the guys who are working with them are in awe of their ability to do something that they don't necessarily understand and that and the guy who office and all of them for their capabilities so that it it's a very I don't know it's it's it's a situation where the whole actually can become larger than the sum of the parts So you know I interrupted because you said you were flying. They brought you in not just for the one but because you re pilot glider experience yes. Oh Oh you mean. They brought me in because I was pilot. No no no. I'm saying you were talking about doing the that George brought you in. Yeah George brought me and because I think I had. I don't know who recommended me. Maybe Doug trumbull short could have been a variety of people. I think Doug had something to do with it but they he wanted. George wanted to do it in a different way. He didn't want to do a traditional visual effects house. Not that there were that many visual effects houses around at the time so he decided he wanted to do in much the same way. Doug hired people from college. Because let's get somebody new. Get some new blood in here and I was at Guy. Because I had had unique in the sense that I had worked with Doug Trumbull. I had done a lot of photography a done. A lot of model construction understand understood Colm positing meaning optical composites putting things the other optical printers and and deconstruction of an image and I was An adrenaline junkie So there was sort of for what I think. Georges vision was was kind of an ideal Marriage the first shot the shot. That just sleighs you when you're young and you see star wars for the first time is the gigantic spaceship. Space Transport Star destroyer. Thank you thank you Sir. I get it right. Aristotle is definitely in the other room going. Oh you mean are you talking about the rebel? Blockade Runner is the first thing you see and then it's just flies over overhead and just keeps going and going the Star destroyer and it does not look like an Aurora Model Kit. It does not look like something made of plastic. It looks for one of a better word real. We broke a lot rules. And and you know there's a filmmaking in particular in that area had had some very set things that you didn't didn't do and the one of the problems with miniatures was that this becomes incredibly technical. It's called depth of field. Meaning that your focus extends from a surface close to you to a surface far away from you and that varies dependent upon the focal length. And the the Iris Setting of the aperture of the Lens that you use Traditionally models look like models. Because either the thing that's close you'll be out of focus in the background will be sharp or the background will be out of focus the foreground sharp and you inherently understand because of real life that when that happens that that's a small object no matter how it's presented perspective was so that's a dumb thing but it's part of the deal so they had to build Mon- miniatures big enough and light them with enough light to create a deep enough stop. Meaning the aperture. Smaller aperture makes more depth of field so the entire miniature was in focused which meant that majority of the miniatures at that time were pretty good size for his ass. Oh Jeez I duNNO SCALE MODELS. Were One tenth scale does it. Which doesn't even apply in Sikhism. A star destroyer. It'd be even one tenth scale at a quarter of a mile long so let six foot long ten foot long four feet long. The analogy word. I'll get the starter squares too. Big The the point is what we were doing. We were making miniatures a fraction of the size that conventional wisdom said. They should be right so we were breaking. Rule and part of breaking that rule was that we had. We had to design a camera that would allow us to have a tilting Lens Board. What a tilting Lens Board does is allows you to tailor the depth of field. Meaning that by tilting the Lens Board you can. You can skew the depth of field so I can keep a smaller miniature in focus as if it were larger miniature by tilting. Landsberg CONVENTIONAL MOTION PICTURE. Cameras didn't have that it goes on and on but the key things. I think from the point of view of what happened was that we designed a system that allowed to camera d'or to move during exposure. That was one of the things that was so effective about the thing that I did at Berkeley was that the camera moved during exposure as cameras in real life. All do now as you guys know because you're sitting in a studio where they do. Stop Motion Stop. Motion is a series of still images. And there's a stutter. That's apparent because each of the images. His sharp no matter what the camera move or the subject move when you look at photography cinemagraphic photography of the world. The camera is exposing the film but the Movement of the camera and the subject continues during that exposure so it gets motion blur right so the thing that we added with our computer controlled camera was the ability to make complex moves and to repeat those moves. Well let's not get into repetition yet to make complex moves during which the shudder of the movement of the camera was continuous during shutter open phase when it was exposing..