Q&A with the makers of Star Wars
Jim Ward: Next up is a gentleman named Pablo Helman, who comes from Industrial Light & Magic. Pablo was the Visual Effects Supervisor on all of the newly created scenes that appear on the DVD. So Pablo, where are you? There you are. I couldn’t even see you before. Okay, so this is the guy to talk to about the process of putting together all these new scenes.
Question: How many people worked on the DVD, and how long did the process take?
Pablo Helman: I think we had a crew of about 100 people, actually over 100 people. And it took between six and eight months…
Question: How does the process compare from doing a film versus completing the scenes for the DVD?
Pablo Helman: Well the process was pretty much the same. At ILM we take pride in every frame that we create, every pixel. So the process was basically the same, taking a look at the old content we needed to put together into 300 or so new shots. And taking a look at every one and all the history of Star Wars and the Star Wars universe. And again, we had to create the scenes so that they would cut right into the film if needed to. It was pretty hard work but it paid off.
Question: Did you transfer it to film, or did you keep the final scenes in the digital realm?
Pablo Helman: No, everything was delivered on film.
Question: In the world of Star Wars what is a “quote, unquote” deleted scene, and in essence what did you have to do to actually create these scenes?
Pablo Helman: Well all these scenes that you’re going to see on the DVD were at some point in part of the film. There were over 300 shots of scenes that were not part of the movie. And there was all these descriptions, all these different shots, and I basically sat down one night with a glass of wine and took a look at the videotape and I think I told you the story before, as the videotape kept going I was pouring more wine and more wine because the idea of producing all these really quickly, you know six to eight months, it was something that we had to think about. Again, you know when it comes to content, everything that was in that videotape was at some point in the movie. And it was deleted or not produced for a specific reason at the time.
Jim Ward: Pablo, what state were those scenes in? They were basically blue screen, right? So you had to go and…
Pablo Helman: Yeah, the majority of it was blue screen, and a lot of it was a lot of sketch work, you know artwork basically pencil drawings.
Jim Ward: So when you say it was in the film, it literally was a placeholder?
Pablo Helman: Well, yeah, but in terms of content it was at some point it was part of the film, somebody, obviously George had thought this is what I want in my film. In terms of how we went about filming all that blue screen and all those blanks, we had a huge library of elements, and again there was a history of Star Wars so there was really very little leeway to go wrong. And some things we shot, elements we shot. A lot of it was CG. And some things that we couldn’t do before for different reasons.
For instance the waterfall scene, at the time they were doing Episode I, it was very costly to do. There was a lot of R&D in that. And by the time that they were working the DVD basically the whole facility was working on water because there were a lot of water projects. So waterfalls were a perfect way for us to develop that technology and put it to use.
It’s like, there’s something there, what do you think?
Well, I think it’s a cable.
Well, where does that come from?
Question: Did you do any other work beyond the deleted scenes?
Pablo Helman: Yeah, we did the outtakes too. Those were a lot of fun.
Question: What is the previsualization process like?
Pablo Helman: Well, at some point George has an idea and he communicates that idea to somebody. And then that person puts together, it’s basically a dialogue between the Art Department and the Director, in which the Director says something and the Art Department says here, this is what you want. And then the Director says “Well, yes or no.” When you’re doing animatics you’re not thinking about how you’re actually going to finish a shot. You’re just basically brainstorming up with your own idea on paper or videotape or CD or whatever your medium will be.
After that, from a visual effects point of view when I see animatics all the time when we’re working it’s a great tool because it’s a lot easier for, especially for artists who are very subjective minded, I mean everything is very, very subjective. It’s a lot easier to say here do this, match this than to say I have this idea this is a waterfall right here that I want it to go down. So from that sense it was great. I do have to say that George gave us a lot of freedom, from those animatics that were very ambitious and varied, but very, very open. We had the leeway to solve the problems in terms of content.
For instance in the pod race, when I remember looking at the animatic and there was something in the pod race in that extra lap that we did in which Anakin loses the cable, and I mean it took me about three or four viewings to realize what that was. You know it’s like, there’s something there, what do you think? Well, I think it’s a cable. Well, where does that come from? Well, we actually didn’t ask George those questions, because you don’t sit down with George to ask — what did you mean, is that a cable there? So we had to basically solve all those problems. Animatics are very crude and it’s a very open way to present a visual effects problem.
Jim Ward: And just so you understand the process at Lucasfilm, there is a previsualization team that’s separate from Industrial Light & Magic led by a guy named David Dozoretz. And basically George works with him to develop the animatics, previsualization of the film and then that’s what ILM tee’s off of in terms of understanding what the action sequence is going to be.
Question: How were the deleted scenes selected?
Jim Ward: Why don’t I take that. The deleted scenes were selected by George, basically, to answer that question. And in terms of the reintroduction you saw the taxi sequence scene that makes sense to him after seeing it completed and he reincorporated that into the film.
Question: In the deleted scenes that you did is there anything that’s really special, or a small bit that you’re most proud of?
Pablo Helman: The waterfall sequence is great. The pod race sequence is great when you think about the technical hurdles that we had to go through. The taxi sequence was great because it allowed us to take a tour of Coruscant in a way that we hadn’t seen before, and prepared us for future stories about the city.
Star Wars is a great opportunity that not many people have a chance to benefit from.
Jim Ward: Why don’t you tell them the story you told me about the computer?
Pablo Helman: Well, there is a scene before the pod race where we introduced all these different pod racers that we didn’t have a chance to see in Episode I. When we took a look at the animatic there was basically a still of Ben Quadinaros who is a character that never completes the pod
race in the actual film because his engine explodes. So taking a look at the animatic and trying to figure out (just like with the cable), what that shot was going to look like, we though well we can put Ben Quadinaros we have a CG character which is zooming to him and that’ll be it.
And then some of us thought, well, wait a minute, he never finishes the race, because his engine explodes. Why don’t we have him over there reading the manual? Right before the race? He’s reading a manual and you know he just stops and just throws the manual away. And so we made that and we completed the shot and then here we go six months later we were talking to George throughout all these meetings but we never told him exactly the content of this establishing shot.
So here we go, I’m meeting with George, playing the tape and showing him these short cuts, and he sees the manual and then he stops the tape and says, “You know, you did something wrong here.” And I said, “What did we do?” He said, “In the Star Wars universe there are no books. So, go ahead and put a laptop in.”
That kind of exchange with George in terms of what the Star Wars universe is. Star Wars is a great opportunity that not many people have a chance to benefit from.
Jim Ward: That’s great, thanks a lot, we appreciate it.
Okay, the next person we’d like to have up here is Rick Dean, who is the Supervising Engineer on the entire THX certification process. So for all those technical questions I couldn’t answer for you guys yesterday, this is the man.
Question: Did you use a digital master for the DVD?
Rick Dean: A video master was created for the VHS. This was the same source material that was used for the digital release as well. We simply went back to that grand master and ensured that it was cleaned up and ready for DVD. One of the differences between DVD and VHS of course is you’ve got much more detail on the DVD format. So we did pay extra attention, but the same source material was used.
Question: What is the average video bit rate on this?
Rick Dean: The bit rate is really a measure more of the type of content that’s throughout the movie. You know, compression is a matter of being efficient with the bits that you have to work with. And so with this type of title, it’s a scene-by-scene process to make sure that every scene was replicated correctly using digital compression. So it was a tedious task to make sure. Actually, if you just say what the average bit rate is, it really doesn’t measure what the quality of the movie is.
Question: Since THX was involved step by step with Lucasfilm on this project, will that foretell the future for THX?
Rick Dean: I think the program, as it started out with laserdisc, it was rumored that we were simply a looking over the shoulder process. Very much now, what we’ve done over the last two years and with DVD becoming such a heavy implement in the business now, is we’re kind of much more of a post production service management group. And this is the first time that we’ve been able to really spread our wings and practice. Lucasfilm was very, very receptive to a lot of the things that we did. We had a lot of heavy consultation from Van Ling, the folks at ILM, the creative folks up here at the Ranch, and it was just a wonderful collaboration of effort.
Question: How did you decide to use Laser Pacific to do the disc?
Rick Dean: The technology that we implemented with this, and again I’ll go with what was mentioned earlier, we did not develop technology because it’s cool. We use the technology in the best way to tell the story here. And to bring the story out on DVD. Laser Pacific had certain experiences with high-definition 24 frame video, and because a lot of this post was done down in the Burbank/Hollywood area, they were the chosen facility for this.
Question: Were there any changes in the soundtrack in the Dolby Surround EX mix for home theater?
Rick Dean: No, there were not. We were very keen on keeping the original acoustic design of Episode I that was used in the theatre for the home as well.
Question: Is there any sacrifice having an EX mix on the DVD disc?
Rick Dean: Actually, part of the beauty of what EX does is it simply adds additional information that can be extracted in the rear surrounds. So really, you are hearing this content. Even if you don’t have the EX system. What you won’t do is you won’t hear the added benefit of the rear channel. But this does not take any more bits. The surround channels are stereo in a 5.1 mix anyway. So this is just a more efficient use of that.
Question: What is THX’s point of view on the placement of the dual-layer change on this disc?
Rick Dean: That’s a very detailed selection. What you don’t want to do is have areas of the movie that will have sustained music going between scenes or any dissolves, because inherent with DVD, there is going to be an interruption right at that point. So yes, this is a very often a difficult decision. At one point, it actually took quite a long time to come to agreement on.
Question: How long was the process for your involvement in the video compression?
Rick Dean: It’s hard for me to even come to a number of days with that. After the movie was finally approved, we went right into this mode. Some of the best facilities that we knew of were selected for this, and I can say that the repeat of creating the movie was done again for the DVD. Certainly not a matter of years, but certainly a matter of a lot of time – a lot of hours working in small, dark rooms and as I’m sure most of you know. And one of the things that we focused on and were given the leverage to do is to actually question each and every decision. Rather than have this go through in a factory stance, we were able to go through and tweak things. And this often did not take more time. We were very efficient with the use of time, use of manpower, but applying the technologies that we’ve been developing for the last three years, and really putting them into practice with this. These facilities who do DVD titles every day of the year are now using a lot of these new techniques in their everyday work now too. So that’s rewarding in itself.
Question: Is there an international education program to teach people about the benefits of THX?
Rick Dean: I think the most efficient way to do that is through our website. We are trying to come up with more of an education forum on this as well. There has been an unfortunate misconception that we have not even told our story as fully as we should as we’ve gone along. Again, we are not just a Quality Control system – it’s more than that. So we’re going to try to do a better job of that.
Jim Ward: Okay great. Rick, thanks so much.The next gentleman I’d like to bring up here is a gentleman by the name of Jon Shenk. And I think now you know that Jon was both the DP and director of the documentary film that you saw, called The Beginning. Any questions for Jon?
Question: So, why no narrator in the documentary?
Jon Shenk: It’s funny, I think in the realm of a “making of” it’s a real unusual thing. But there’s a whole history of cinema verite– observational docs that have this style. And that’s just something that I sort of fell in love with when I became a documentary filmmaker. And it just always seemed like a very direct approach. You know, sort of a human approach to making a film. And we had discussions from the time when I started work on this project that we wanted it to be an honest take on what it’s really like to work on these films because we hear it all the time through making ofs, various formats, the rosy picture and kinds of things that Rick was talking about, how funny it was that certain quirky things happen. But we knew we were going to be around for a long time, and we had the luxury of collecting these scenes that allowed us to tell the story well. Without a voice of God narration to come between.
Question: How long did the entire process take?
Jon Shenk: Well you have to understand I was shooting the documentary footage over the course of almost three years. I had so much time to think about a finished film as I was going along that it’s really almost impossible to count. We would shoot scenes, and there are certain scenes that you shoot and know immediately that that’s going to be in the film, you start working with it right away. The actual editing time once the DVD came around and there was sort of this idea that there was going to be this hour long documentary that we were going to put on the disc, that editing period was about three months or so.
Jim Ward: In fairness he’s being humble. We didn’t give him a lot of time, When the decision was made to do this, it was like, “Jon, the good news is let’s do what we’ve always talked about. Bad news is you’ve got like a couple months to do it,” and he, talk about living it as a lifestyle, that’s what he did.
Jon Shenk: But by that time, to be fair we had had and I had shown to Jim sort of what they call in the film world a rough assembly. Which is a really rough kind of almost an assembly of best stuff. It was probably three or four hours long, and Jim had seen that and so we were starting from a place where we kind of at least knew the basic structure of the film.
Question: How long did it take to log all this stuff, and how did you do it?
Jon Shenk: My brain. It’s a copywritten database by now. Yeah, actually we did. We knew very early on, actually when I started the job in November of ’96 there was already a stack of tapes a mile high that other people had shot from the day that George had started writing the script. So I knew right away that a logging system was something that we would need. And I actually ended up working with a guy who had helped create the logging system for Episode I to log their dailies. And we modified it and I told him the kinds of things that I would need for documentary footage and it was a Filemaker Pro-based thing.
During busy times we would actually have an assistant do nothing but watch the previous day’s tapes that I had shot. Because sometimes I would shoot five, six, seven hours of footage in a day. That guy was going through it the next day typing in detailed logs so if I thought or if Jim said to me “hey do you have anything where you know the guys at ILM are really freaking out,” we could just type ILM freaking out and hopefully get some shots that we needed.
Question: How do you narrow down 600 hours of film!?
Jon Shenk: It’s a painful job. But partly you make an early decision about what the through lines are going to be, and that immediately knocks out half the footage or two thirds of the footage. Because you know that you’re only going to be dealing with certain characters and you know they have a certain through line. And also you have to understand that while I was making this (thing?) that’s on the DVD, I had other things to do. So I was shooting for electronic press kits and we had a whole series of short documentaries that were on the web.
So it’s true we did shoot 600 or 700 hours of footage, but a lot of that stuff was specifically for other things. So when it came time to do the veritepiece that we put on the DVD, it was already honed down. I mean still it’s a lot to go through, but then it’s just a matter of diving in and it’s part of the editing process.
Question: Was the scene with Mr. Lucas and Mr. Spielberg something that you knew was a keeper?
I wanted to be there when it happened. So I just made it my business.
I sort of had to constantly be a private detective asking people when things were going to happen.
Jon Shenk: Definitely. When you know that you’re not going to use a narrator in a film, you know I’m trying to avoid sit-down interviews that allow you to tell the story in hindsight how it happened, you basically depend on being a sniper, being in the right place at the right time to capture what you need to catch. And so there was always talk on set that summer that Spielberg was actually shooting this movie called Saving Private Ryan a few miles down the road in England and that eventually he’d probably come to the set. And you know he and George are pals and that they would have some kind of something on set.
I wanted to be there when that happened. So I just made it my business, and that was just one example of a lot of things I did, I sort of had to constantly be a private detective asking people when things were going to happen. So when I found out that that was going to happen I just made sure that I was standing in the right place, and in the film there’s five or six minutes of that scene probably but you know the tour of George taking Spielberg around the set was just, it was just a magical thing.
You know there’s always sort of a magical experience of working on Star Wars because it was just such an exciting project to be around. But to have these two giants in one place, and to have the rapport that they have just felt really great and yeah, it was definitely one of those things where we turned to each other afterward and felt like we got something good there.
Question: Was there a day where you didn’t feel welcome on the set? (laughter)
Jon Shenk: Was there a day where I did feel welcome? That’s the question. (laughter) I mean you know, I’m trying to think of a specific example. It’s, as Rick kind of alluded to, it’s very difficult to do your job with a documentary film crew in your room. Especially if you know it’s very delicate work and you already are feeling kind of nervous about trying to do the best job that you want to do. And suddenly you have a camera and a sound boom and you feel like you’re on national television it’s difficult. And so I constantly had to tread a line between getting what I needed to get and trying to hold back because I knew I was going to be involved with this thing for a number of years. I knew that I had to maintain working relationships and become friends with these people to get what I needed.
So really probably the on-set stuff was the most delicate. Because you know when they say OK everybody shut up and be quiet, we’re going to shoot this take, you really have to do that. But as a documentary shooter you have to be in the right place, and you’re constantly tripping over things, and when there’s light stands and cables everywhere it’s really an awkward thing. So probably the shooting period is the most difficult.
Question: Is there a personal piece that you liked that didn’t make it into the film?
Jon Shenk: Maybe someday there’ll be a DVD release of the documentary and you should see the hours of outtakes. I mean there’s a million things that are in this library of footage that probably will continue to get mined over the years as Lucasfilm does more projects. It goes back to what I said before. It’s mostly a matter of kind of basic editorial decision. Once you decide what the story is, a lot of stuff just doesn’t make sense.
So, you know there’s wonderful stuff, in the movie business there’s a whole world of crafts work that gets done. There’s wonderful stuff of British painters talking about working on the initial Star Wars and getting invited back to do this one, sort of the whole old world, new world debate that was going on — would certain things be sets or certain things be done digitally that, for example it would make a great film unto itself. But we only had a certain amount of space so we had to make the decision to leave that for another era.
Question: Was the last scene (in the documentary) staged, or was that real?
Jon Shenk: No, I mean George, that’s just sort of a sign of how integrated we were on the project. We would make sure that we were in the right place at the right time when things were going to happen. I can’t say that there’s no shot in the film that I didn’t say do you mind doing that again, or something like that occasionally. But yeah, we tried to be in the right place at the right time.
Jim Ward: It’s kind of come full circle if you look at one of the initial web documentaries that Jon did, and Lynne Hale actually shot this footage was the very first day George sat to write down Episode I at his desk. And it’s the exact same kind of thing.
Question: What your favorite material in the finished documentary?
Jon Shenk: God that’s a hard question. I really love the small, intimate moments. The whole idea coming into this is, of course I knew what Star Wars was and I knew who George Lucas was, but you don’t really know that much about the details of the process. So the moments we did rough cut reviews, or the times on set when he’s revealing himself to have sort of nervousness about the project, those are the kinds of things I really like because I just feel like that, everybody has those feelings no matter what you do in life. And they feel the most real to me and they also feel like kind of a victory for who is ever shooting because the camera becomes invisible in that moment and suddenly a real thing is revealed.
We would make sure that we were in the right place at the right time when things were going to happen.
Question: What kind of camera did you use to shoot the documentary?
Jon Shenk: I think this camera right here is the camera I used. When I started working on the project I think that a lot of the footage had been shot in Hi-8 mini-DV. And one of the first things I did when I got here is I started lobbying right away to shoot the material on essentially the best format that we could possibly use. And at the time, it’s still a great camera, they had a digital betacam Sony makes, it’s a digital version of basically a very common EMGformat, beta SP. And Lucasfilm had been using it to shoot little inserts for Young Indy and they had a camera around and I lobbied to make it a part of the documentary package.
Jim Ward: Anything that you didn’t get on tape that you regret?
Jon Shenk: That’s a good question. I can’t think of, again I’m sure if you had asked me a couple of year ago I would have a million things. You always feel like you’re missing way more than you’re getting. You know it’s like in the cast read through for example it’s like the fact that the entire cast could not be there, it’s kind of a, well God this kind of sucks. I’m here to do the cast read through and only part of the cast is here, and I really regretted it at the moment.
But then in hindsight it became kind of charming that the whole cast wasn’t there, that they had these other players who were playing the parts and it actually became kind of a plus. So in the end once it’s together and once it’s working, a lot of those regrets kind of fall away because the good stuff sort of rises to the top.
Jim Ward: When Jon was doing this, the real reason he was shooting this was really for archival purposes. There was never an issue in the beginning that we’re doing something for DVD and therefore it needs to be (?) this. It was archival purposes and at the end of the day there may be something put together for some use. So he was being as honest as he possibly could.
Jon Shenk: I was never told when I first started that we were going to do an hour long documentary that was going to end up on the DVD. I don’t think DVD even existed as a format when I started doing this. So I was told a lot of things. Lynne Hale the Publicist said I need you to collect footage so that we can use it for press reasons. And you know Jim had ideas that he wanted to do for marketing things. And George Lucas had this idea that maybe someday this would be used for an online digital film school, where you could go in like Rick said watch a couple hours on costumes, or a couple hours on stunts or special effects.
So I had this idea that I just had to essentially shoot anything that seemed interesting. And it’s a pretty broad charge to get, you know as a documentary person usually it’s much more honed. And because it was kind of this top down project where George and the people around it really wanted it to happen, there weren’t many closed doors. Pretty much any door I knocked on and explained who I was and who wanted this thing done was open to me. And I shot tons of things.
To answer your question, the irony is there is stuff that I really wanted to get but couldn’t because it was sort of an inside job, was that when Jim called me up to hire me to do the DVD part of the thing, I actually hadn’t had this frank conversation like you know what should be the tone of it and do you have any feelings? And he said Jon give me the dirt, show me the stuff that’s really going to make this thing seem real. Do you have anything where people are screaming at each other in the trenches and that’s kind of in the spirit in which it was made. We really tried to flip on it’s head the idea of a “making of” and try to bring out the juicy stuff that we have.
Question: What’s up next for you Jon?
Jon Shenk: As a documentary filmmaker I was involved with this project for two and half years shooting it, and then another three, four, five months in the editing stage that’s a long time to be on a project. And the reason I became a documentary person is that probably, a lot like you guys, I like to move from story to story and have my life constantly turned upside down. It’s sort of the nature of the business. So I felt like when I got to the end of it I was really ready to move on. Not because I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it, I did. I just felt like for a documentary person I was ready for somebody with fresher eyes to take over.
Jim Ward: Well… Jon thanks so much. I see that we’ve got a few minutes here before our next guest, so maybe I can answer some questions…Question: I had a question about the starwars.com the weblink aspect of the DVD. One of the concerns about DVD-ROM materials being on the website as opposed to being on the disc is that they don’t have a life, they don’t last – the movie goes away and after awhile the content goes away on the website. Is the idea of this link something that will continue to grow and evolve in the future?Jim Ward: That’s a fair question. We have a thriving ongoing regular site, starwars.com. We wanted to give those people that made investment in our DVD something that was special to them, and we certainly want to do that. Over the course of time, how will that manifest itself? I honestly can’t tell you. It’s a very fair question though. I would hope that we could be able to maintain that and keep it fresh as best we could, but I can’t really make any promises now because it’s actually a new frontier for us and so we’re just going to have to explore as we move on.Follow-up Question: You mentioned that you had to make hard decisions about what to include and what you wouldn’t include on the DVD? Do you see the website as a place where some of those things that didn’t make the disc can go?
Jim Ward: Absolutely. That’s the great part about it, we can put a lot of content up there, we can do a lot of things with the DVD itself. We could have special chats, as you watched the DVD on your monitor you can be involved in special chats situation and access other content that we couldn’t put on the disc. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Question: When does the website launch, the one for DVD?
Jim Ward: The website will be up on the day of launch, October 16th.
Question: Is there a temporary page up there now where if you click it says coming soon?
Jim Ward: No there’s not. No.
Question: Are there any retailer-specific big promotions around this that you can tell us about?
Jim Ward: Well, we have quite a retail partnership as you might expect through our Licensing group, and we have a lot of exciting programs with those folks ranging from Walmart to Target to all the major players where we have some really fun things planned so yeah, check it out.
Question: Any ideas what the numbers are that have been shipped to retailers?
Jim Ward: No, and I’ll tell you when I first came here, my boss Gordon Radley who is the President of Lucasfilm taught me a very good lesson and that’s never to underestimate or overestimate what you can do. So we’re going to put them out there and we hope the demand is there and if it is, that’s great and we’ll have to see. But I wouldn’t want to venture to say.
Question: Do you guys, with the marketing campaign for the DVD, are you kind of doing the same thing you did with the VHS? Are you putting more money into it or equal? How exactly are you marketing it?
Jim Ward: More money into, I’m sorry…
Follow-up Question: Into actually the actual campaign, like are you going to do more commercials, more press, more events to publicize it’s coming out on DVD…
Jim Ward: Well, we’re certainly obviously doing more press. I mean we didn’t try to do this type of activity for the VHS. In terms of the kind of activity, yeah we’re going to launch it in a very strong way. This is obviously a competitive quarter, but we also think that the quality will speak for itself as well. So it’s kind of apples and oranges with VHS because it’s a little bit different kind of situation, different medium.
Question: I know we’re supposed to confine our questions to Phantom Menace, to this DVD, but it’s a DVD-related question. Is there discussion of releasing the first three on DVD? Is this kind of… is this going to be watched to see how this works in terms of releasing the others?
Jim Ward: No, we have no real plans at this point in time. I think you saw the kind of process at least that we undertake to do a DVD. George is in the middle of directing and creating Episode II, he’s beginning to write Episode III. So we don’t have any real plans at this point.
Question: Will the documentary air on television as any kind of special to launch the DVD or anything like that?
Jim Ward: Not at this point in time, no. It’s just really specially for the DVD itself. However, the film itself will be debuting on Fox Network Television on November 25th. But no, this is just for the DVD.
Question: Will the teaser for Episode II be on the new site that’s linked on the disc? I wasn’t sure if you had mentioned that yesterday or if there were any plans to do it?
Jim Ward: I have no idea, you’ll probably have to get the disc and maybe check it out someday. (laughter)
Question: Similar to the documentary that’s on this disc, is someone also now following Episode II in process?
Jim Ward: Absolutely. We have a documentary crew, a part of which is here today documenting this very thing, by doing the exact same thing Jon did and they have been involved from the beginning of the development of Episode II, through the production and they’re daily going down to ILM to shoot exactly the same kind of thing. Just a different crew.
Question: On the last re-release of the Trilogy on video, there was an value added part that had sort of a teaser for Episode II. Was there a decision not to include that on the DVD and why?
Jim Ward: Yeah again, we wanted this DVD to really focus on Episode I in and of itself. And to be honest with you, there’s bit budget issues and it’s a trade off and we really wanted to put what we felt was the best stuff on there.
Question: What was the reasoning behind doing the Starfighter material?
Jim Ward: Well you know, it’s a very popular game. A lot of our core fans not surprising are also videogame/PC gamers. So this is an opportunity to let them have an inside into the making of the game as well.Question: How long did it take you to decide on the price?
Jim Ward: How long did it take to decide on the pricing? Well that’s an involved process and I should mention that, we have phenomenal partners at 20th Century Fox as our distributors, and we work with them on a daily basis on all of these kinds of decisions. And the pricing strategy comes from years of their experience, their ability to feel the pulse of the marketplace. Our desire to get the best value proposition to our consumers that we possibly can. So it took awhile as we were developing the entire plan. But they gave us really great guidance on that.
Question: I’m wondering why you decided to release The Phantom Menace DVD now as opposed to say next, is it May whenEpisode II is released? Was there a reason?
Jim Ward: We wanted to release it when it got done. Because it did take awhile to do. Also one of the great things that we’ve learned about Star Wars is that people like to celebrate it and they like to give Star Wars things as gifts, and this is a nice opportunity to move into the Christmas timeframe. But it seemed like the best confluence of both seasonality and when we could the thing done.
Question: Do you see yourselves for Episode II trying to shoot for a same date DVD/VHS release?
Jim Ward: We haven’t got that far. We’re trying to get this thing out the door, but to be honest with you we haven’t made any plans as far as that goes.
Question: This is kind of another ancillary DVD question. Will Mr. Lucas’ production schedule and the other Star Wars projects at Lucasfilm prohibit him from addressing some of the other non-Star Wars properties that you guys have, and even some of the smaller ones like a Young Indiana Jones?
Jim Ward: I’m not sure his production schedule necessarily will inhibit that, but we are issuing Willow this December, or actually the end of November with our partners at 20th Century Fox, November 27th. So no, in some of those areas we are moving forward.