Lucasfilm has a charming panel at the Star Wars Celebration that talked about the early days of Industrial Light & Magic and an upcoming six-part documentary series coming to Disney+ called Light & Magic.
The doc was developed by Lawrence Kasdan who joined the panel virtually, and he was joined by ILM’s Janet Lewin, Ron Howard, Joe Johnston, Phil Tippett, and Denis Muren. They also talked about their experiences working at ILM with George Lucas on the original Star Wars films.
One of the fascinating things that talked about was how George Lucas saw the ships in the story. It’s explained that they were translating George Lucas’ visions for the film, and they were “hot-rodding” them.
In the early days of development, they were trying to figure out the right look for the ships. They needed the Rebel ships and the Empire ships to have a very different feel and vibe to them. They were coming up with ideas, but it wasn’t until Lucas explains how he saw the ships, that they were able to hone in and come up with their unique styles. It’s explained:
“George always thought of the Rebel fleet as essentially hot rods because they acquired their stuff used, and it was beat up, and they patched it together, and supercharged the engines, and they were basically hot rods. And the Empire stuff is right off the factory floor.”
This is why the Rebels could outrun them! They were souping up their vehicles! When Lucas brought that up with the team, they had a better idea of how to design these ships. I love how Lucas envisioned that and also how the creative team at ILM was able to bring that concept to life. The ships that they created are iconic!