Three Things on Thursday #22

Hello, and welcome to the 22nd edition of Three Things on Thursday.

This week, our things include: Vintage VFX from the original Star Wars Trilogy, a hammer to help fish get even with humans, and the story behind control-alt-delete.

Let’s go check them out!

1. Vintage Star Wars Visual Effects

Discover the VFX secrets behind the original Star Wars trilogy, from the Death Star's detailed interiors to the towering AT-AT walkers, in this vintage documentary short, created by Lucasfilm!

This vintage featurette opens by detailing the chess game played between Chewbacca and C-3PO in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. The creatures in the game were animated via stop-motion then superimposed onto the chess board, with a visual trick giving them a holographic appearance. The scene took place on the Millennium Falcon, itself a model, photographed by a computer-controlled camera. It was shot stationary on a blue screen, which allowed for different backgrounds and other moving objects to be added later. The same technique was used to create the film's dogfights and Death Star trench run.

Matte paintings were also a heavily used form of visual effects in A New Hope. During Obi-Wan Kenobi's deactivation of the Death Star's tractor beam, Alec Guinness was shot on-set. A matte painting served as the background, with a spot left open for the footage of Guinness to be inserted.

Mark Hamill narrates behind-the-scenes footage from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, in which Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett work on the tauntaun sequence. The miniature tauntaun is animated one frame at a time by hand via stop-motion. It takes the two one hour to create one second of finished stop-motion film. The same technique is used to animate the AT-AT walkers, shot on a set of baking soda and microscopic glass bubbles. It took nine months to design and build the AT-AT models, many of which were different sizes to create an illusion of depth. The snowspeeders from the Hoth sequence were also miniatures and shot on blue screen, either stationary and filmed with a computer-controlled camera, or controlled on a line for explosions and crashes.

In creating the asteroid field sequence from The Empire Strikes Back, more blue screen work was used, combining various ships like the Millennium Falcon as well as individual asteroids into one shot. Backgrounds were then be created and inserted into the sequence without detection, resulting in one of the film's most thrilling visual effects centerpieces.

2. Helping Fish Get Even With Humans

Artist Neil Mendoza combines sculpture, electronics and software to bring inanimate objects and spaces to life - with results that are as fantastic, as they are surreal.

Like "Fish Hammer".

Designed using Autodesk Fusion 360 and Autodesk Inventor, as part of Autodesk's artist in residence program. Fish Hammer is a project that helps fish get even with humans - by smashing stuff with a hammer.

Yup, it's as mad, and as awesome as it sounds.

Want to build your own Fish Hammer? Head over to Neil’s Instructibles page for build instructions!

3. The Programmer Who Invented Ctrl+Alt+Del

Introducing Dr. Dave Bradley - the computer programmer who created Control-Alt-Delete: a relatively tiny engineering tweak that changed desktop computers, and mortal existence as we know it.

Edition #22 done!

See you next week, for more Three Things on Thursday.

Chris ~ Resident Collector of Things

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