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YouTube / Star Wars

Animating the AT-AT Walkers in "Star Wars"

YouTube / Star Wars
YouTube / Star Wars

In this short film, special effects artist Dennis Muren explains how he and his team animated the AT-AT Walkers from The Empire Strikes Back. Have a look—this is just under two minutes:

The Star Wars YouTube channel elaborates:

Dennis Muren looks back on how Industrial Light & Magic animated the AT-AT walkers from The Empire Strikes Back's Battle of Hoth sequence—and the inspiration for the techniques used.

Originally, Muren and his team were unsure of how they would bring the AT-ATs to life. The first idea was to build an actual robot that could move by itself, but that was deemed too complicated and costly. Instead, Muren pushed for stop-motion, citing the influence of King Kong and the realization that the staccato look of stop-motion would be appropriate for machines. Models were manipulated a frame at a time, animated in front of painted backgrounds instead of blue screen, with baking soda was used in place of snow.

It was shot at 24 frames per second, resulting in about 5 seconds of footage per day of work. For explosions, high speed photography was used, and cutouts were used for background walkers.

One of the early ideas was to build an actual robot version that would walk on its own, but that would prove too costly and complicated. Muren, whose background was in stop-motion animation, pushed to have the sequence done using that technique—since the AT-ATs were machines anyway, the staccato look of stop-motion would be appropriate. So stop-motion models were built and manipulated in front of paintings, as opposed to blue screen, and baking soda was used for the snowy landscape. The set itself had trap doors so that animators could pop up, animate the model, go back down, and shoot a frame of film. Photo cutouts were used for walkers in the background, and smaller models were created to convey a sense of scale and depth in the shots.

ILM actually developed a new technique, called go motion, to animate portions of Empire. Go motion is similar to stop motion, but incorporates motion blur by shooting each frame while the model is moving. Animators used go motion on the tauntauns and some of the AT-AT Walker shots.

(Via Devour.)

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MGM Home Entertainment
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entertainment
The Beatles’s Yellow Submarine Is Returning to Theaters for Its 50th Anniversary
MGM Home Entertainment
MGM Home Entertainment

The Beatles are coming! The Beatles are coming!

In early 1968, at the height of Beatlemania, The Fab Four lent their voices—and visages—to Yellow Submarine, a somewhat strange and slightly surreal animated film, purportedly for children, which saw the band travel to Pepperland aboard the titular watercraft in order to save the land from the music-hating Blue Meanies. (Hey, we said it was strange.)

Though it would be another year before the film’s iconic soundtrack was released, 2018 marks the film’s 50th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, Pitchfork reports that the psychedelic cartoon will be making its way back into theaters in July with a brand-new 4K digital restoration and a surround sound remix, to have it looking—and sounding—pristine.

To find out where it will be screening near you, visit the film’s website, where you can sign up for updates.

[h/t: Pitchfork]

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DESIREE MARTIN, AFP/Getty Images
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science
Stephen Hawking's Big Ideas, Made Simple
DESIREE MARTIN, AFP/Getty Images
DESIREE MARTIN, AFP/Getty Images

On March 14, 2018, visionary physicist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76. You know his name, and may have even watched a biopic or two about him. But if you've ever wondered what specifically Hawking's big contributions to science were, and you have two and a half minutes to spare, the animation below is for you. It's brief, easy to understand, and gets to the point with nice narration by Alok Jha. So here, in a very brief and simple way, are some of Stephen Hawking's big ideas:

If you have more than a few minutes, we heartily recommend Hawking's classic book A Brief History of Time. It's easy to read, and it's truly brief.

[h/t: Open Culture]

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