Monday, December 31, 2012

Yavin Base

Yavin Base is a fantastic modular set. The production team built a partial Y Wing (just an unconnected cockpit and engines) an X Wing, and a slew of flat cutouts for the background. They dressed the set with a few flight-deck looking floor modules, built sets of tapering faux-stone and faux-steel columns, and basically called it a day. The team used one sound stage and just those few details, rearranged a number of ways for different shots, as well as a composite shot with a matte painting, to give a sense that the Rebel Base was stronghold of fighters ready to take on the Empire.

( a preliminary plan of the soundstage.)

 (in the foregound, the Full Scale Y Wing, and X-wing, and flat cutouts beyond that.)

A few other items were holdovers from other sets. The gantries suspended from the ceiling are recycled from the Death Star Docking Bay set. In the scene where Han Solo is carrying off his reward for rescuing the princess, there's a background prop from Tatooine suspended from the ceiling. The rampant prop recycling that happened on the first Star Wars movie has become one of favorite features of the film. In a way it was a form of cutting corners, but the end product was put together such that you never notice, until you scrutinize every last detail. So in effect, their economy becomes an art from in itself.

Here's a video of a model Yavin Base I built to see what all the different shots of the Elstree Sound Stage all composited into one place. In the future, I'd like to build this model up to include the exterior of Yavin Base as well, from the matte painting of the exterior structure, to the shooting location in Tikal, Guatemala.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Full Scale Falcon in the News

Hey, it looks like my model of the Full Scale Falcon has made onto TV. How cool is that?

Visit to find out more.

Classic Size Comparison Chart (Part 2)

As a follow up to Part 1, I've added a basic model of the Blockade Runner, based on Mike Marincic's excellent orthgraphic drawings. I've also used his scale for the Tantive, which puts the ship at about 495' long. As you can see, she's quite a bit bigger than the scale drawing originally indicated.

(click to enlarge)

I suspect that the scale of this drawing was based on the second iteration of the Blockade Runner, when it first transformed from being an early Millennium Falcon:

as you can see from the windows of the hammerhead section, the scale was quite a bit smaller than the final model eventually implied.

 And now, for fun, here are some renders of all the ships stacked up together, as they might be seen from an observer standing on the ground, taking in the scale in person... (Click any, to enlarge.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Classic Size Comparison Chart

 (Click to enlarge)

The drawing on the left was created around the production time of Star Wars A New Hope, to show the relative size comparisons of the major vehicles. It's an old favorite of mine, and has appeared in several Making of Star Wars books. Recently, I've been building replicas, in Sketchup, of the full scale movie props from A New Hope, (using production blueprints) and I wanted to see how the sizes of the real full scale props matched up to this charming chart.

I started with the x-wing, the movie prop of which was about 39' long, and scaled the drawing to fit. With that ship in place as a reference point, I pulled in my model of the Millennium Falcon, which comes in at about 86'+. At that point, the relative scales in the drawing actually seemed to be looking pretty good. I don't yet have a complete TIE fighter, but then there never was a full scale prop constructed for that. There are blueprints from pre-production of the TIE Fighter studio model, but they don't have exact dimensions. So, I went by the cockpit set of the TIE Fighter, which is noted in Rinzler's Star Wars the Blueprints as being 7' 6" wide on the inside. Adding another 6" total for a theorized bulkhead thickness of 3" brought the sphere of the exterior cockpit to about 8' ( a measurement that comes up a lot in set design on ANH. The Falcon's cockpit, for instance, has an 8' diameter, as do her corridors.). With those dimensions in place, the rudimentary TIE Fighter model I drew up from those studio model blueprints fit the scale comparison drawing perfectly.

Next was the Sandcrawler. The fullscale set built for the Sandcrawler, seen when R2 and 3P0 are sold to Uncle Owen, only had the crawler's caterpillar tracks and entry gangway, with a bit of skirting over the treads to imply the rest of the vehicle looming above the actors and droids. I built my model from production blueprints of the full scale treads themselves, and then added the rest of the hulking machine scaling up a recreation the studio scale model used in the miniature shots. The results show that the scale drawing of the Sandcrawler, in the old comparison chart, was a bit on the small side.

I've yet to built a Y-wing, an old favorite of mine, but that will come soon. It seems probable that the Y-wing will fit as nicely as the X-Wing, Falcon, and TIE Fighter.

The Blockade Runner is going to present some problems of its own, since I think it's pretty obvious that the scale is not quite right to what's implied in the movie. Of course there was no full scale set of the Tantive exterior ever built, so I'll have to extrapolate from the interior movie sets, and use my imagination a bit.

Anyone familiar with this drawing will note that I cut off the final comparison between the Blockade Runner and a Star Destroyer. At this point, that's an issue for another day.