Produced by Rick McCallum and Ned Gorman

Visual Effects Producer: Tom Kennedy

The new and enhanced visual effects shots of the special edition for Episode V, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK fit very well into the 1980 classic, considered by many as the finest film of the STAR WARS series.

The most significant of the new visual effects include many Cloud City shots. Around 30 shots of interiors of the facility featured expanded windows. What was once a wall in the 1980 footage has been digitally removed, and a window has been put in its place, revealing the city in the background. These shots were all very seamless and invisible. The rotoscoping around numerous characters in these shots is quite convincing, and must have been an incredible challenge. The mattes are very naturalistic--someone seeing the film for the first time would never tell there was any manipulation done.

One particular shot, however, was unnecessarily 'enhanced.' A certain interior shot of Lando, Leia and Chewie running through the halls of Cloud City has been significantly altered. They are now running on an exterior patio of some sort. Because of the lighting change (bright interior, high-key lighting to dusk, exterior lighting), the shot jumped out and seemed too synthetic. Although the mattes drawn for the characters were quite accurate, the shot was wholly unnecessary and hard to watch.

New CG sequences include a number of Cloud City wide shots and POV shots of ships navigating the buildings. Also new is a terrific long shot of Boba Fett's Slave I ship following the Falcon, as well as an entire new sequence featuring the Imperial shuttle, previously only seen in RETURN OF THE JEDI.

Darth Vader leaves Bespin to his Command Ship in this all-new shot, as the Imperial Shuttle makes a cameo in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (it was previously seen only in JEDI)

Matte lines in the bright sunlit shots of the Hoth attack are completely absent in the re-composited Special Edition of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

In these all new shots, the Falcon follows a Bespin escort and prepares to land on its landing platform. The background and Falcon elements are entirely computer generated.

All in all, the new and enhanced visual effects of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK were much more integrated and seamless than the effects for STAR WARS, whose new footage felt out of place, at times.

Read the VFX HQ News Article: STAR WARS Strikes Back
Check out Cinefex 69.
Check out American Cinematographer Feb. '97.
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