In From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga part 6, George Lucas discusses the visual speed in Star Wars films and the themes of the saga.
According to Lucas, audiences are more accustomed to fast visuals and able to process imagery better than ever before. This is in part, he says, thanks to the influence of television; one of his experiments with his films is to see how people “digest information rapidly.” As narrator Mark Hamill states, this is evident in the blinding speed of the trench run sequence from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. There’s a lot happening visually, and a lot being conveyed through visual metaphors — reinforcing the meaning of spoken words. When Obi-Wan encourages Luke to use the Force and not rely on his targeting computer, the message is really about the triumph of the human spirit over machines and technology.
Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi’s fastest scene was the speeder bike sequence. In this video, ILM’s Dennis Muren and Joe Johnston use miniatures and toys to create animatics — moving storyboards — that would inform the scene’s finished visual effects. The final shots would take another year to complete, requiring Steadicam to create high-speed images, blue-screen work, and compositing. Puppets were used for shots that could not be filmed full-scale, such as rapid pullbacks giving the illusion of a speeder bike moving away from the camera. Lucas feels that speeder bike chase is more realistic than the famous trench run; it’s in a familiar location to viewers and there are trees that you can crash into…
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