Star Wars Video Bridges the Gap Between Games and Movies
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"The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of a sweet game."

I can honestly tell you that I'm sitting here today, writing for the largest independently owned gaming site on the Internet because of Star Wars. Now, I know this is some six degrees of Kevin Bacon stuff, but just bear with me.

In high school, I was your typical student; meaning, I didn't really have much of a direction. I don't think most of us really figure out where we're headed in life ‘til our college years. Fortunately for me, something changed all that in high school and I instantly knew what I wanted to do. That "something" was the first entry into the prequel trilogy: Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace. Now, this film will instantly divide folks reading this article into two camps: "Team Lucas" or the ever popular "Team George is raping my childhood." Now, I'm not here to debate the merits of The Phantom Menace or the prequel trilogy as a whole (although, one day I might). The point I'm making is that this film changed my life. It was the first film I saw multiple times in the theater (I believe the count topped out at 13), and it's what led me to find a passion for computer graphics and video production. With the huge success of the film’s opening, I wasn't the only one that was bitten by this bug. An entire culture popped up on the online forums devoted to "fan films," a concept that I embraced wholeheartedly. Over the years, we did the best we could to try and recreate the effects we saw on screen, and some even got so close that they garnered the attention of people at ILM themselves. Needless to say, this was a fun time.

One of the most disappointing bits of news to come out of the sale of LucasFilm to Disney was the fact that LucasArts, a staple of the gaming industry for several decades, would be closing its doors. One game in particular, Star Wars: 1313 would be among those on the chopping block to be canceled. We first got a glimpse of the game during E3 2012. It was a game that seemed to follow in the footsteps of the popular classic Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and would allow you to explore the bowels of Coruscant's seedy underbelly. Sounds fun, right? Well, I guess we'll never know, but there was another aspect to what made this game so appealing. Many of the clips and gameplay trailers released showed off some of the most amazing graphics we've ever seen in a Star Wars release. It was hard to tell where the pre-rendered cutscenes stopped and the in-game action began. It promised photo-realistic environments right on our consoles. Of course, all the hope and ambition in the world won't get you past one simple reality; no matter its potential, the game is canceled, and that's that.

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Well, I recently saw a video that could potentially allow the spirit of the game to rise front the ashes.

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In an article posted by The Inquire, they show a video that demonstrates how the gap can be bridged between the creative and talented artists found in the CG world of the gaming industry vs. their counter parts in the film world. Using the same technology that created such amazing visual effects in the unreleased 1313 game, actors and stunt men were equipped with motion-capture gear, and they can be seen running around a sound stage with some very rudimentary props. On screen, the visual elements are rendered in real time. So, what you get is a completely convincing C3PO and a Storm Trooper taking cover and firing on the incoming "rebel scum."

I was blown away with this concept. I instantly realized that this is the unifying piece of the puzzle that could finally bring together two industries that have seemingly been estranged for far too long. If you’re familiar with the behind the scenes of a Star Wars film, then you know just how much time and effort goes into the post-production side of things when ILM takes over. Everything from star fighters, to lightsabers, and even to entire cities have to be rendered at great expense--not to mention how much time it adds to the overall production. Now, imagine that exact same film, through innovative technologies created in the video game world, being able to motion capture in real time and get every last special effects shot they need finished on the day of filming. When the director wraps the set, he has all the close-ups and dialogue scenes he needs, all containing the CG elements that would have normally take an extra three months post-production work to accomplish. The possibilities created throughout the entire film industry are endless, all because of the innovations made in the world of gaming.

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Over the years, cinematic cutscenes have continued to shift our experience in gaming more into the theatrical realm. It's common to hear many modern games described as an interactive film. So why have these two industries never thought about sharing their resources? Innovations in game technologies are often overlooked…but why? With game companies investing hundreds of millions every year into new game technologies and pushing the industry forward, it can't be denied that video games are helping advance our culture as much as any other industry.

So remember, you’re not just holding a controller...You’re holding a looking glass.

Jason Messer
Jason Messer
@J8sonMesser

Contributing Writer
Date: 09/23/2013

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