Welcome to a look Inside the Holocron. A collection of articles from the archives of *starwars.com no longer directly available.
(*Archived here with Permission)
Designs of Ep II
Supreme Office Space
Ruling the galaxy requires elbowroom, a neatly organized work environment, and a heck of a view. Audiences got a glimpse of Senator Palpatine’s decorative tastes in his crimson-hued apartment in The Phantom Menace. In Attack of the Clones, Palpatine returns ten years later, as Supreme Chancellor, with surroundings that match his elevated political position.
“Doug Chiang asked me to give Palpatine’s headquarters an all-seeing view onto Coruscant,” recalls Concept Artist Jay Shuster, “It was an ideal theme in that it embodied who and what this man is all about.”
“People’s first impressions of the space may range from ‘Hey, this guy’s loaded,’ to ‘Nice view… that view could be corrupting,’” says Shuster. “Both reactions are valid: the design of Palpatine’s headquarters lends him an air of ‘Big Brother- hood’…as in Orwell’s 1984. Where does an ego like Palpatine’s go after he has an office space like this?”
Upon receiving Shuster’s illustrations, Production Designer Gavin Bocquet and his crew began examining the set in three-dimensions through detailed foam-core and whiteboard models.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in there,” says Bocquet. This set was almost entirely built, as opposed to some of the other environments that consisted largely of bluescreen. “We basically worked almost 360-degrees. George [Lucas] wanted us to leave maybe 10 percent of the wall out on the right as you come in. That did give us an opportunity to move the camera crane in and out through the gap.”
The set, built in Fox Studios Australia, was finished in about seven weeks. “There were a lot of finishes to be done,” explains Bocquet.
The finished textures and details required even more effort than usual thanks to the incredible resolution of the new digital cameras. “It really does pick up a lot of your middle and background detail. It’s much more unforgiving in certain instances than celluloid is. In the film world, we’re always doing things theatrically, in a way that works for the cameras. But if you’re standing there, it might not look right. With the digital camera, we had to be a more careful since things that were in the middle distance were actually showing up more as scenic work than actual finishes. We had to take our finishes a bit further than we did before.”