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At The Time Reaction to Attack Of The Clones?

Max Field

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Often I like to go back to very old threads of this forum to see what the active unfiltered perspective was on various things that are now considered history. Unfortunately I think the posts here only go back to 2004, and I was wondering what the in-the-moment reaction was of cinematographers to Star Wars Episode 2, being the first full digital capture blockbuster.

At the time was Lucas held in high regard for pulling a move like this for such a big property? Were most calling him annoyingly experimental for trying to make a movie with an ENG camera?

I'd like to hear the perspective of it without the bias of today's technological landscape, from people who were there to hear the talks back in the early 2000's.

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There were some digital screenings of footage in Los Angeles and most of us were fairly impressed, but then, digital projection was also a new thing so I’m not sure what was more impressive. When the movie came out, the reaction was a lot more muted due to all the vfx layered on every shot, or the number of pure CGI sequences. Remember that “The Phantom Menace” was shot on 35mm film (except for one scene shot on 1080i HD as an experiment) and it had some issues from all the vfx layered on it.

I saw “Attack of the Clones” a few times and the weakness of the HDCAM recording codec became more obvious on repeat viewing; I thought the “Revenge of the Sith”, shot on the F950 and recorded in 4:4:4 looked a lot better technically.

But the real problem with all those movies was that there was so much CGI that it felt like an animated movie at times.

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At the time, I actually didn't mind the look of Attack of the Clones in the cinema. It was no doubt shown on a film print. It's funny but the very beginning of the digital revolution started very quietly and without much fanfare at all. It just slipped into place and there it was. Didn't really cause a ripple. Then next thing big changes started happening in the film industry in Australia. Then cinemas lost their film projectors ...

As recounted here a few years back, I was literally nearly given the two enormous and virtually brand-new cinema film projectors (capable of both 35mm and 70mm projection) from the local cinema I frequented, by a local projectionist who got too old to look after his prized possessions. But it wasn't to be. They were both just too big, and what was I going to do with them anyway.

Edited by Jon O'Brien
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