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Revenge Fantasies
More than the previous installments of the Star Wars saga, Revenge of the Sith features worlds and environments that could not be found by scouting the globe for suitable lensing locations. To create truly other-worldly experiences, writer-director George Lucas and producer Rick McCallum once again turned to the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic, the entertainment industry's premiere visual effects house, which was founded to create the effects for A New Hope.

Revenge of the Sith has more than 2,200 visual effects shots, surpassing the records of the previous Star Wars movies and dwarfing those of other visual effects spectaculars, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. "There are some shots with 50 or 60 different elements, most of which most people will never even realize are effects,” says producer McCallum. Many of those "invisible” effects were critical in creating the eight planets that appear in the movie – the most in any Star Wars film.

Lucas called upon two of ILM's visual effects supervisors, John Knoll and Roger Guyett, to share the enormous effects load, each taking primary responsibility for specific action sequences and effect types that occur throughout the movie. Rob Coleman returned as animation director, reprising his previously Oscar-nominated role from The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.

Among the eye-popping shots supervised by Knoll – who has more than a decade of experience working on visual effects for Star Wars films and worked closely with Lucas during the entire pre-production and first-unit photography phases – is Revenge of the Sith's epic opening battle sequence. High above the city-world of Coruscant, the last days of the Clone Wars play out on a massive scale, while Obi-Wan and Anakin attempt a daring rescue of Chancellor Palpatine, who is being held captive by Separatist forces.

The scene is unique among the numerous battles depicted in the Star Wars movies, because it is set not in outer space, but in the upper regions of Coruscant's atmosphere. "Setting it there gave us the opportunity to create smoke trails, fires and other pyrotechnics that would not exist in the vacuum of outer space,” Knoll says.

Roger Guyett supervised the creation of the volcano planet Mustafar, where Obi-Wan and Anakin fight their epic duel. Guyett knew it was vital to make the treacherous environment look realistic, as Obi-Wan and Anakin wage a vicious battle across streams of molten lava and through exploding magma.

"We wanted to get the atmosphere of danger in the world around them as they duel,” Guyett says. "It's a classic fight between two very powerful characters. The environment around them supports the menacing quality of the fight. I wanted to make it as precarious and hostile as possible, and, of course, to make it look as hot as hell. It's sort of like the Niagara Falls of the lava world.”

The computer-generated elements of Mustafar were composited with real footage of an erupting Mt. Etna, as well as digital matte paintings and elaborate miniatures overseen by ILM practical model supervisor Brian Gernand. Some of Gernand's "miniatures” measured more than 30 feet long, adding texture and realism to the environment. Gernand and his team created glowing "lava” using methylcel, a thickening agent commonly used in milkshakes. They pumped thousands of gallons of the lava through the intricately detailed miniature, creating a four-footwide river that cut through the center of the enormous model.

Revenge of the Sith features the first-ever big-screen exploration of the Wookiee home planet Kashyyyk, a lush world teeming with immense forests. John Knoll created several establishing shots of the planet, while Guyett supervised a massive and visceral battle scene in which hundreds of Wookiees fearlessly take on Separatist forces. Gernand and his model makers built a detailed miniature "hero tree,” and ILM artists layered in eff

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