“valleylist” v160 r.1 – – digital hollywood [george lucas]

DIGITAL HOLLYWOOD is north of silicon valley and as different from celluloid hollywood as “star wars” is from “citizen kane”.

george lucas creator of the star wars movie franchise and founder of lucas films is the “valleylist” avatar this week. lucas went from usc film school and low budget success with thx1138 to box office bonanza with star wars. francis ford coppola helped guide the new technology projects and together they re-invented the entire film making process. it all took shape at lucasfilm in the form of new digital film making and production technology. new digital services were engineered outside of the of the studio system then sold back to hollywood as a creative service. industrial light and magic transformed film making into a new boundless digital medium.

lucas himself owns three of the top 10 grossing films of all time.

#3 star wars iv a new hope [1977 $461m]

#6 star wars i the phantom menace [1989 $430m]

#9 star wars iii revenge of the sith [2005 $380m]

digital hollywood includes more than lucasfilm and coppola’s zoetrope studios. the silicon valley companies that got involved took digital graphics to the next level and launched new companies like adobe systems and silicon graphics. if you’re talking digital film making almost all roads lead to george lucas and skywalker ranch. in 2005 lucas moved to the san francisco presidio and set up the lucas digital arts center. many lucasfilm activities are still based in marin county at skywalker ranch.

lucas himself is entrepreneurial to the the point of trademarking the name “droid” so people like motorola need to pay lucasfilm a royalty when they use the name “droid”. the “droid” cell phone for example.

top 10 highest grossing movies of all time

#. title year [gross revenue]

1.titanic 1979 [$800m]

2.the dark knight 2008 [$530] wars iv – – a new hope 1977 [$461]

4.shrek 2 2004 [$436] 1982 [$435] wars 1 – – phantom menace 1989 [$430]

7.pirates of the caribbean – – dead man chest 2006 [$423m]
8.spiderman 2002 [$400] wars iii – – revenge of the sith 2005 [$380]

10.lord of the rings – – return of the king 2003 [$377]

the top 10 grossing films of all time have a lot of digital imaging and special effects. though digital film making is more than special effects there’s nothing quite like the desert landscape of a distant planet to excite the imagination. lucas is famous for motion controlled cameras and actual robotic characters as well as computer graphics and animation.


analysis. not all great movies are digital. yet digital has become the new standard. almost all films are filmed on 35mm film and later transferred to digital media for editing and post production. the finished product is then transferred back to 35mm film for theatrical release. digital post production brings it all lucas drew on a usc talent pool of highly trained people. examples of their computer graphics are included in the analysis of digital hollywood. more examples of early digital hollywood can be found on the “valleylist” youtube channel.

the lucasfilm story starts with thx1138 a film school project later re-edited for commercial release. pixar then a lucas/jobs subsidiary was experimenting in digital film making. john lassiter left the animation job at disney and joined lucasfilms. “andre and wally b” was lassiter’s first digital animation. in 1986 lucasfilms sold pixar to steve jobs for $10m. the same year” luxo jr” premiered at siggraph1995 pixar goes public raising $140m and then releases the first fully digital animated feature “toy story” earning $192m domestic the first year. from the very beginning lucasfilm is a privately held company and does not disclose financial information.

coppola publicly stated the need for a futuristic plant that would place film making squarely in the technological era”. marin county was declared hollywood north around 1970. copolla wanted “to give a film maker the same sort of control over his work as a painter has”. among the many technological breakthoughs from lucasfilm thx sound was perhaps the most marketable. try the movie trailer and sound sample to refresh your memory. american zoetrope studios opened in san francisco in 1977 permitting coppola lucas ancoppola people to complete breakthrough films like the godfathersteven spielberg [biography] is among the many very successful filmmakers who took their work north. spielberg later helped create dreamworks studio along with katzenberg and david geffen to futher exploit new technologies. lucas formed the star wars team from usc around 1974 starting with larry cuba forcomputer graphics and john dykstra [working with george lucas] and jerry jefress and a den of geeks experimenting with motion controlled cameras.douglas trimball and ralph mcquarrie designed and illustrated the movie concept and it was the x wing fighers and the droids that finally clinched the deal. ben burtt specialized in sound recording try the light sabre for fun. the university of utah created a computer graphics department just to focus energy on the new creative discipline. utah professors dave evans and ivan sutherland explored computer graphics and actually invented a new video editing system. alan kay specialized in object oriented programming and the “dynabook” was later hired by xerox parc. john warnock also a computer graphics specialist [page description languages] later went on to found ofadobe systems. xerox parc big name talent alan kay was designing the latest computer workstation while ed emshwiller created new computer graphics to expand the new art form. dick shoup and alvy ray smith computer graphics became a new technological standard. bill etra invented the video synthesizered catmull left disney to become president of pixar and won numerous academy awards academy awardssiggraph founded in the early 1970’s years ago became the academic focal point [computer art gallery] andhistorically represents the best in computer art. the droid editing system was marketed in 1971 only to later be replaced by less expensive higher performing editing systems. skywalker ranch was completed in 1980 around the same time jim blinn started creating sophisticated voyager space craft animations and jpl uses blinn graphics to this very day.

return of the jedi [1983] the last film in the star wars franchise. it didn’t make the top 10 most grossing films of all time.

– – – – > movies film and television

the new “valleylist” planned titles – – people who lined it up

planned new titles and sponsorship online

actual publishing schedule online at

pub date – – –  # title – – – – – – – – [avatar] – – – – version


05.19.2011 – – 11_movies film & video [louis lumiere] v159

05.26.2011 – – 12_digital hollywood [george lucas] v160

06.02.2011 – – 13_youtube and video download services [chad hurley] v161

06.09.2011 – – 14_digital video and television [sony] v162

06.16.2011 – – 15_digital photography and cameras [george eastman] v163

06.23.2011 – – 16_digital television [fcc chairman julius genachowski] v164

06.30.2011 – – 17_cable television [gerald levin] v165

07.07.2011 – – 18_television networks [william s paley] v166

07.14.2011 – – 19_television and cable news v167

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planned titles and sponsorship is online. new sponsors needed. cash only. any starbucks after 5pm.

“valleylist” publishing schedule focusing on free cultural events and movies actual publishing schedule online at

off the calendar fun activities like the artspan artreach free community outreach and the asian heritage street celebration kept me busy. again the supreme master tv people showed up promoting the world wide 3 way. the good people. the bad people. the alien people. unfortunately a 3 way is naturally unbalanced. whatever comics and superheroes was all i could find new in the castro area. although it did remind me that hugh jackman’s marvel film blockbuster “wolverine” almost made to the top 10 grossing films of all time. spiderman was the only real marvel success to make it to the top.


lucasfilm re-edited everything.

even lucas hit the wall when it came to theatrical picture quality and 35mm film. instead of a new digital video standard it’s still 35m film. thx and dolby surround sound are examples of commercially successful new movie theatre technology. no such parallel exists for the actual film itself. an effective replacement to live film 35mm or 70mm did not come out of the technology revolution. instead digital video and computer graphics remain a set of tools used by great film makers to come up with dazzling theatrical moments and high impact scenes.

lucas is only one person and needed an entire raft of great talent to realize those movie making dreams. perhaps most difficult of all is cultivating a next generation of real talent to keep the movie industry vibrant and alive.

lucasfilm started the “digital hollywood” revolution. digital effects are now the new standard.

“go forth young jedi and vanquish the forces of evil”.

“may the force be with you”.


greg mckenna





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