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By Michael Dequina | March 6, 2002

“‘Star Wars’ producer Rick McCallum talks about the digital filmmaking process,” read the official program for the 30-minute March 6 pre- and post-dinner presentation at ShoWest, the annual Las Vegas-set convention for the National Association of Theatre Owners. McCallum’s speech indeed covered that topic, but any discussion of it was squarely in relation to Star Wars: Episode II-Attack of the Clones-culminating in the unveiling of some never-before-seen footage from the film as well as its newest, yet-to-premiere trailer.
McCallum admitted that the program description was a deliberately misleading one given to the ShoWest organizers by Lucasfilm Ltd., who wanted to keep their centerpiece a surprise. That the footage would be screening was not at all a surprise-in fact, word of it was fairly widespread and, accordingly, widely anticipated-but the footage itself did. Anyone whose expectations for any future “Star Wars” installments were diminished after seeing Episode I: The Phantom Menace, immediately had their hopes for this next prequel elevated.
The approximately eight-minute reel was a wordless and, at times, random assemblage of scenes from the film set entirely to John Williams’ score. McCallum described the footage as a “technical reel,” and as such the “official” purpose of this presentation was to show off the pristine quality of the images captured by Sony’s high-definition digital video cameras, on which Episode II was entirely shot. On this tech level, the reel did not disappoint; featuring footage shot in different time and place settings, it showcased how these digital cameras could capture remarkable clarity, vibrancy, and detail in scenes of varying light, speed, and motion. Later in his presentation, McCallum further demonstrated the digital image’s astounding quality by presenting a blow-up test where various “Clones” shots (including one really va-va-va-voom shot of Natalie Portman’s Queen Amidala wearing a figure-hugging corset-like top) are magnified up to 300%; while some distortion was apparent in some of the images by the 150-200% mark, the clarity still astonished. It must be said, however, that all the videos shown during the presentation were digitally projected via Texas Instruments’ DLP Cinema technology, so it remains to be seen just how good the image will look when transferred to actual film for conventional 35mm projectors. With the opinion of the image quality met with virtually unanimous enthusiasm, post-screening discussion largely centered on making sense of what exactly the reel reveals about the film.
Get spoilers in the next part of “CLONES” ATTACK SHOWEST>>>

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