Hayden Christensen Plays Jumper in February

October 10, 2007


Hayden Christensen, who portrayed Anakin Skywalker in Episodes II and III, stars in Jumper this February, directed by Doug Liman (Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith). Co-stars will include Samuel L. Jackson and Nathalie Cox (of the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game).

Looks like thrill-a-minute stuff — check out the trailer here.

20 Things Star Wars Fans Have to Look Forward To

September 24, 2007


WizardWorld.com recently posted a list of 20 things Star Wars fans have to look forward to in the future, including the CG animated Clone Wars series, the live-action TV series, The Force Unleashed video game, Fanboys, Hasbro’s Star Wars Mighty Muggs, and a whole bunch more to keep your Force-sense tingling. Head on over to WizardWorld.com to check it out.

George Lucas Interview at D: All Things Digital

August 21, 2007

In May 2007, filmmaker George Lucas was interviewed on stage at the D: All Things Digital, the annual tech and media conference sponsored by The Wall Street Journal, where he chatted about digital visual effects, new gaming technology developed by LucasArts and ILM, the future of Web entertainment and filmmaking in general.

The site posted the entire (almost hour-long) interview for fans to check out, complete with ILM reels including a Pirates reel with Oscar-winning VFX Supervisor John Knoll explaining how the new software helps create realistic water effects. For you gamers, there’s also a live demo from LucasArts President Jim Ward about the upcoming LucasArts gaming technology (keep your eyes peeled for the Jar Jar in Carbonite, ice and Jell-O!)

The interview hosted by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher also veers into tangents about his Lucas’ thoughts on Youtube, hedge-fund investors trying to act as film producers and more.

Check out the video here:
George Lucas: The Entire D5 Interview

Force Unleashed Story, Characters, and Clues Revealed at CE

July 15, 2007


Saturday, fans witnessed some rare insights into the story, characters, and development of the next chapter in the Star Wars saga, LucasArts’ Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game. Set during the “dark times” between Episodes III and IV, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed portrays the previously untold story of Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice, and is due for release in 2008.

On hand were Project Lead Haden Blackman and Producer Julio Torres along with Secret Apprentice actor Sam Witwer. The panel featured the debut of a new Force Unleashed trailer, the first time actual game play footage has been revealed. The trailer can now be viewed on starwars.com.

Here are some edited highlights from the panel:

Read the rest of this entry »

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – Official Website Launched!

July 12, 2007

The Star Wars saga will continue in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, a videogame developed by LucasArts, which casts players as Darth Vader’s “Secret Apprentice” and promises to unveil new revelations about the Star Wars galaxy. The expansive story, created under direction from George Lucas, is set during the largely unexplored era between Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. In it, players will assist the iconic villain in his quest to rid the universe of Jedi – and face decisions that could change the course of their destiny.

As its name implies, The Force Unleashed completely re-imagines the scope and scale of the Force by taking full advantage of newly developed technologies that will be seen and experienced for the first time: Digital Molecular Matter (DMM), by Pixelux Entertainment, and euphoria by NaturalMotion Ltd. Paired with the powerful Havok Physics™ system, these new technologies create gameplay only possible on the new generation of consoles. DMM incorporates the physical properties of anything in the environment so that everything reacts exactly like it should – wood breaks like wood, glass shatters like glass, plants on the planet Felucia bend like plants on the planet Felucia would, and more. Meanwhile, as a revolutionary behavioral-simulation engine, euphoria enables interactive characters to move, act and even think like actual human beings, adapting their behavior on the fly and resulting in a different payoff every single time.

It’ll be a game like no other, click here to visit the Official Site now!

The Force Unleashed Preview on “Entertainment Tonight”

July 11, 2007

We just got some exciting news about Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Tomorrow (Thursday, July 12) evening, “Entertainment Tonight” is scheduled to host the world TV premiere of a special preview of “The Force Unleashed,” including the very first look anywhere at the trailer for the next chapter of the Star Wars Saga, which debuts from LucasArts in Spring 2008. Be sure to check your local listings for the exact time and channel in your area, then tune in to “Entertainment Tonight” for this special preview of this exciting new Star Wars adventure!

George Lucas at D: All Things Digital

May 31, 2007

Lucasfilm has become synonymous the breakthrough digital entertainment, so it’s fitting that George Lucas be a key guest at the D: All Things Digital conference. Check out their coverage of the event here, particularly the video in which Lucas describes his move to television, internet video, and why you shouldn’t invest in the film business. And as a bonus, there’s a Force Unleashed demo with LucasArts president Jim Ward.

Capturing and Unleashing Performance

May 26, 2007

For Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, actors Nathalie Cox and Sam Witwer will be playing the central characters of Juno Eclipse and Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice. But what does that mean for an actor in a video game? The actors’ faces are digitally captured, and then their performances are also captured through the use of motion-tracking dots placed on their faces and special camera arrays at Industrial Light & Magic. The actors describe the process…

Nathalie Cox (Juno Eclipse): It was bizarre really. It’s harder in a way. Obviously when you’re on a film set, you have your costume and the other actors around, and they’re all in costume as well, and you have an incredible set. Especially with something like Kingdom of Heaven for example — a massive production with entire villages and castles. You walk on the set and the cameras are rolling and the director says action, it’s kind of easier to get into character. With motion capture, though, is so intense and precise and it’s just your face, literally. You have to get every single emotion that you’re trying to portray in that one line through just your face. It doesn’t matter how much you wave your arms around and jump and down. If your face isn’t doing it, it’s not going to come across in the game. People aren’t going to believe that character saying that line.

Sam Witwer (Secret Apprentice): She makes the dots look wonderful, doesn’t she? Very sexy. Very sexy. I remember standing up in front of the motion capture rig. I’m not entirely new to the whole process of shooting things, but getting in front of the motion capture rig, I asked myself the question: “Can I even act in front of all this? What’s going to happen? Can I just say words? These dots are on my face! I just ate three at lunch! This is not cool!”

I was thinking we were sitting in a chair being told to act, but we actually had a lot of physical freedom. There were a lot of physical freedom, so there was a lot of physical things taking place when we were shooting the motion-capture. If I was pulling my lightsaber, I was actually pulling out a lightsaber. And we were capturing all that reference on video so that the animators can see what my body was doing at any given moment. So, yes, it was focused on the face, but it’s hard just to contain a performance just to the face. So, yeah, everybody allowed me and Nathalie to be as physical as we needed to be.

No, not like that. Not quite like that. Not like I didn’t try, folks.

Sam Witwer: A Force Wrecking Ball

May 26, 2007

You may know him as Crashdown from “Battlestar Galactica,” but you’ll soon know actor Sam Witwer as Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice in next year’s new title from LucasArts, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Here’s what he had to say about his character.

Sam Witwer (Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice): The character certainly is a dark sider. I guess what I found interesting about him was trying to get into the psychology of someone who raised in torturous conditions. He’s not a Jedi. He wasn’t raised a Jedi. His growth has been horribly stunted by this awful father figure.

Whereas a regular Jedi, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, would use the Force elegantly to trick a couple of stormtroopers, the apprentice would use the Force to bring the building down on the stormtroopers. He’s like a Force-wrecking ball. You can’t even call him an assassin.

There was one scene we shot where he’s going in to rescue someone. We did a take where he came in and whispered, “I’m here to rescue you,” very hushed. Afterwards, we all looked at each other and scratched our heads — that’s not quite right. Why is he whispering? He just killed five people and burst through the wall! He’s not subtle. When it comes to his job, he doesn’t have a lack of confidence about what he does.

What the cool thing about this story is that Haden [Blackman] and George [Lucas] have come up with a story that once you put it into the middle of Star Wars, if you take out the character of the Secret Apprentice, [A New Hope] doesn’t happen. He’s an integral character. And he’s proportionately powerful. Nothing against … I’m a LucasArts fanboy … nothing against Kyle Katarn. Nothing against those guys. They’re a bunch of wusses.

What I found most interesting about the character is that he’s a dark sider, he’s extremely aggressive, he kills many, many people, but underneath it all he’s an innocent in a weird way. He’s a kid. He’s like the photo-opposite of Luke Skywalker. That’s sort of the way we decided he should be played. There’s certainly a lot of attitude. You get snarky a lot of times, especially with her [Nathalie Cox as Juno Eclipse], but he’s also got this innocence. He’s this kid trying to figure out what’s going on. What is he supposed to be doing?


The Force Unleashed: Behind the Scenes

May 25, 2007

Today, the 30th anniversary of the original Star Wars, fans were given a glimpse of the next chapter of the saga: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Key members from the crew of LucasArts’ cutting edge videogame as well as the two star cast-members of The Force Unleashed joined host Dave Collins (who is actually developing sound for the game) to discuss what fans can expect. Check back later for more quotes…

Haden Blackman (Project Lead): When we first started out with this game, we explored a lot of different options and a lot of different directions. We kept coming back to the idea where we really wanted to reinvent the Force and create a game that took the Force in new directions. What really resonated with us was this idea of really amping up the Force and kind of blowing it out of proportions, and in some cases, making it totally out of control. Really being able to use that to set up interesting game-play situations, and to really take advantage of the power of next generation systems and do a lot with physics and simulation, and all driven by this notion of the Force as you’ve never seen it before.


Matt Omernick (Art Director): As a Star Wars fan, it’s a cool dream come true There’s that 18-year gap that we get to work with. A big theme that we really stick to visually is the idea of evolution and construction. As you know, the galaxy is pretty much turned on end at this point. The Empire’s taken over. We see a ton of transition. Imagine a TIE fighter construction factor. What does that look like? We get to create that.

Another example is Kashyyyk, which is in the game. We think of Kashyyk as this pristine, very calm world. What happens when the Empire really makes it mark there on that, takes over and starts to enslave Wookiees? From an artistic standpoint, it’s an incredible playground. You get to invent.


Haden Blackman: Ultimately, we hit on this idea of — what if Darth Vader were to take a secret apprentice? From there, the story kind of exploded. It’s cliché to say that things write themselves — they don’t. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of back-and-forth, a lot of iteration, but once we had that idea, the number of possibilities seemed limitless to us. The story really has been driven from this main character. The plot all revolves around that.


Matt Omernick: Getting the script really opened up our mind to the possibilities of the Secret Apprentice. How would Vader really treat an apprentice? We came up with this concept that referred to internally as “Vader’s Attack Dog.” The idea being that Vader would really keep this person under his heel and beat them down both physically and mentally and basically raise them in darkness. That’s what really informed our design of the character. You’ll see tattered clothing and layers and layers from years and years of… not necessarily torture devices, but restraints and things like that when you see design of the character.

Juno Eclipse, on one hand has to be this very stoic hardened Imperial pilot with tons of experience, but at the same time, she has this soft heart inside of her, because she’s the love interest in this game. So, it’s finding this balance. Finding someone you know and respect as an Imperial officer, yet there’s something inside her that’s redeemable.