This is not exactly a lesson. It’s more like a reminder to get the Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith DVD. The DVD with the extras is an excellent primer for the world for corporate filmmaking. One of the documentaries on the DVD is Within a Minute, a feature-length documentary detailing the work that has gone into just one scene of Star Wars.
The scene in question is SCENE 158: Mustafar Duel. Based on the documentary, the scene required 26 shots, 1185 frames, and 910 artists. The total amount of man hours that went into that scene (I wonder how they tracked this) is 70,441!
The movie provides a step-by-step overview of the whole production process. The narration for the most part is provided by Star Wars’ Producer, Rick McCallum. He exhibits an excellent grasp of the process and leaves you with the impression he personally supervised the thousands of people who worked on the last episode. Here’s the table of contents, department by department:
Story (script), Art Department, Previz, Production Design, Construction (600 people!), Props, Make-up, Costumes, Actors, Directorial, Stunts, Cinematography, Editorial, Visual FX, Sound Design, Score.
Pay close attention to the digital cinematography department – there’s plenty of SONY CineAlta’s around. They always make me drool. A few screenshots from the scene’s progression:
There’s plenty of other material as well on this DVD: deleted scenes, interviews, etc. but the real money shot is the Within a Minute documentary.
An interesting note in indie filmmaking coming from Lucas – the rehersals for the stunt scenes have all been shot using a Canon XL1S and wheelchair as a dolly. When you compare them to the rest of this gigantic film production, they feel like home: low/no budget video production.
Even if you’re a low/no-budget filmmaker, this is an interesting see. If you’d like a “corporate” career, pay close attention to any occasions of white hair that appears on screen. These are few and far in between but indicate a career that you can retire on. Who wants to hire 65-year-old focus-puller?