Fashion lessons from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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I think this is a piss-take by Hannah Marriott for The Guardian, but you can never tell. So I’ll mostly be wearing orange and black this season

Captain Phasma’s mask is sleek – very on-trend silver coupled with a sexy off-the-shoulder cape – but the storm troopers’ monochrome styling and dark glasses are unequivocally the best.

Avoiding spoilers: 1977 v 2015

Star Wars Poster

Like a lot of people I spent quite a bit of 2015 both anticipating the new Star Wars movie and trying (successfully as it turns out) to avoid any spoilers.

And it amazes me no end, considering the times we live in, that the film makers managed to keep one of the biggest secrets away from the vast majority of us. (Obviously I won’t say what it is – even thought the film has been out for a couple of weeks, there’ll always be someone who hasn’t seen it – I still lower my voice if ever I mention the big reveal in The Empire Strikes Back).

Compare this with 1977 and the release of the movie that started it all, Star Wars (back then, no ‘Episode IV: A New Hope’ in sight).

The film was previewed at the 34th World Science Fiction Convention and here’s what attendees got to see:

An hour-long slide presentation, made up of 35mm slides of the film’s production artwork and on-set production photos, was narrated live in the Muehlebach’s Imperial Ballroon, the hotel’s largest, to a standing-room-only crowd; this was presented by Lippencott. He outlined in great detail the entire plot of the film from scene one through to the final scene.

An hour! The movie’s only about twice that… Fast forward nearly 40 years and the most you get is a few carefully edited split-second shots.

A Darth Vader waffle maker? You really shouldn’t have…

 Darth Vader Waffle Maker

David Mitchell (the funny one, not the novelist) writing for the Observer on the deluge of Star Wars merchandise, makes the point that not everything we make and sell needs to be ‘worthy’:

I don’t mean it as a criticism when I call this stuff crap. Our civilisation cannot be sustained solely from the buying and selling of sturdy items that people genuinely need. We all need people to purchase things they don’t need; to buy things that, while not necessary, are fun – like chocolate, toys, booze, DVDs – and then, to keep the economy growing, also to buy things that vaguely seem like they might be fun if you don’t think that hard about it, like Darth Vader showerheads and lightsaber chopsticks. The market for hilariously apt dust-gatherers is vast and growing – it makes up a significant proportion of the Christmas shopping spike and we probably can’t do without it.

It’s a fair point. Our GDP would plummet, several developing countries would go bankrupt, and there’d be a lot less fun if we weren’t busy making tomorrow’s landfill.

On a related note…

I was shopping for some friends’ kids the other day and found myself standing in the Star Wars section, feeling slightly jealous. Lightsabers, Millennium Falcons. 12 inch Stormtroopers and Darth Vaders. And all for pocket money prices. When I was a kid, you had to save up for months for some of that stuff. Kids today, eh?

I like this quote from Mitchell’s column – something of a warning to fans everywhere:

Anyone who enjoys their Star Wars Stormtrooper single duvet set is unlikely ever to need a Stormtrooper double duvet set

Still, I was alright. We couldn’t afford a Star Wars Stormtrooper single duvet set when I was a kid…

Star Wars Battlefront and the art of retro sound design

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Interesting article on the sound design of the Star Wars movies and the recent Star Wars Battlefront game. Did you know, for example that:

The screech of the original TIE Fighter, for example, was the sound of an elephant, slowed down, and mixed with the sound of car rolling on wet pavement as recorded through a long tube.

There’s a scream that is featured in all the Star Wars films (so far as I know) and crops up as a bit of an in-joke in movies and cartoons everywhere. It’s called the Wilhelm Scream and there’s a compilation here.

Yes – it even shows up in Battlefront…

Inside Industrial Light & Magic’s secret Star Wars VR lab

I’m on Industrial Light & Magic’s motion capture stage, standing inside what they call “the cave.” It’s not much to look at: two big screens angled at 90 degrees, awash in a smeary blur of images. But put on a pair of modified 3D glasses, and bam — it’s the Holodeck, and I’m on Tatooine standing face to face with one of the most famous robots in movie history. I walk around C-3PO, crouching one moment then jumping the next. The mo-cap performer across the room raises his hand, and the CG Threepio waves. It’s exhilarating and immersive, and it’s all happening in real time.

Read the full story here