The Evolution of Star Wars - Cloud City
By Justin McLaughlin
Appearing mainly in Star Wars: Episode V and briefly in Episode VI, Cloud City is a beautiful floating city situated in the atmosphere of the gas planet Bespin. According to Wookieepedia, Cloud City is 16.2 kilometers in diameter and 17.3 kilometers in height from its tallest skyscrapers to the “unipod” hanging at the bottom.
Han Solo, Leia Organa and Chewbacca travel to Cloud City to escape from Imperial forces during Episode V.
According to the first draft script of Star Wars, the Imperial capital was located on Alderaan, which was a gas giant similar to Bespin. The Imperial capital itself was a floating city closely resembling Cloud City. By the second draft, these three locations (Alderaan, Bespin and the Imperial capital) had been split up.
A subtle detail about Cloud City is that Lando Calrissian says “we’re still a very small operation” implying that typical tibanna gas mining operations are even more massive than Cloud City, which is established in Episode V to be very large. From what we see of Cloud City in Episode V, the city has many levels, ranging from the skyscrapers perched atop the city’s saucer shape to the deeper shafts and rooms where Luke Skywalker fought Darth Vader.
According to Wookieepedia, Cloud City was founded about four centuries before the Battle of Yavin, by an eccentric businessman named Ecclessis Figg. The founding purpose of Cloud City was to mine Tibanna gas, which is the ammunition for blasters. Cloud City later became a tourism hub. 2
In Episode V, we see mainly the upper and lower levels of Cloud City; either the tops of the skyscrapers, or the deeper labyrinth of tunnels and tubes. Perhaps the location represents the characters (and the audience’s) mood; while Han Solo and company are in the upper levels, they believe they have found a place safe from the Imperial fleet. Once Darth Vader surprises and captures them, they are taken to a dark torture/prison chamber. The carbonite chamber is also dark, and its colors are mainly orange and dark blue.
When Luke fights Vader, that battle takes place in the carbonite chamber, symbolizing the danger Luke faced, and then the battle moves to a walkway over an endless drop, perhaps representing the risk that Luke will “fall” to the dark side. Luke loses the duel and falls down the shaft, almost dying but being saved by Lando and Leia in the Millennium Falcon.
Wookieepedia states “In the early rough draft of Star Wars written in 1974, a city on Alderaan, which is set as a giant gas planet and is the capital of the New Galactic Empire at that time, resembles… Cloud City… When Ralph McQuarrie began conceptual work for the second draft, he designed the Imperial capital on Alderaan. The art he provided was the inspiration for the look of Cloud city, differing only in minor respects from the city as seen in Episode V.”
Concept Art: Wookieepedia – Concept art by Ralph McQuarrie:
Product Design - Kano Computer Kit
By Flex McCool
In 2012, innovator Alex Klein and a friend thought up an idea for a computer that is for all ages, introduces people to computer coding and has the fun and playfulness that you see in legos. The kit allows people to construct and code their computer and can easily make simple games such as Pong and Snake. It even allows people to mess with the code of Minecraft. It is also open source so it is designed with public interest in mind. In fact the creators “went around the world and talked to hundreds of kids, parents, educators, and artists" to use to design the product. They based the product’s design "off 3 principles; simple steps, storytelling, physical computing, and tying them all together in a sense of play and exploration." The end product appears to not only be sleek but also well designed to prepare a new generation to the daunting complexities of next gen technologies. Also, Al Alcorn, the inventor of Pong has given a nod to this product, saying, "As computers have gotten more complicated they have become harder to understand. It’s more important than ever to give kids a way in that they will be ready for the future." Is Kano the answer to this problem like Al Alcorn suggests? Only time will tell. What is amazing though is that the team that is developing Kano started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 from November 19, 2013 to December 19, 2013 (exactly 1 month) to fund their project. Only 2 days after the campaign launched, they had made double what their initial fundraising goal was. While it is unclear if Kano will catch on in the same way that other mainstream computer products have, the support for Kano seems promising. Keep an eye out for this amazing product and its creative design.
Product Design - Black Friday Special
By Flex McCool
For all of you who may be exited for black friday but are unable to leave your home, here is something that may keep you busy. Today Echofour Studios will be providing a list of the best Amazing Products released this year. You can find the links below. Also an quick announcement. In case you haven’t already noticed, the Amazing Products articles has been changed to be called Product Design articles.While Echofour Studios has nothing against the success of product entrepreneurs, these articles aren’t there to simply sell the products. Echofour Studios on Tumblr is an art and design blog after all so likewise it’s focusing on the ideas and design of products. That is, of course, the reason that the name is being changed so that it more accurately represents the intentions of the articles in the future. Anyway, that is all so here’s your list of the top 5 best product articles so far this year.
~~~TOP 5 PRODUCTS FEATURED ON THIS BLOG~~~
3. Love Potion
The Evolution of Star Wars - AT-AT
By Justin McLaughlin
One of the most famous vehicles appearing in Star Wars, the All Terrain Armored Transport, first appeared in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Episode V’s reveal of the AT-AT was perfect: a distant, thundering noise coming from distant shapes on the horizon, then just a single foot through a Rebel soldier’s binoculars, then a full view of the whole squad of walkers slowly bearing down on Echo Base.
In Episode V, the AT-AT walkers comprise the main force attacking the Rebel base, but at least one AT-ST can be seen in a couple shots. From the Battle of Hoth, we can see that AT-AT walkers are nearly invulnerable to blaster fire and are slow but have a very long range.
Rogue Squadron (the Rebel defenders of Echo Base) managed to take down at least one AT-AT with a harpoon and tow cable, and Luke Skywalker took another AT-AT down single-handedly, but the Imperial attackers (Blizzard Force) eventually captured Echo Base.
One AT-AT appears briefly in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi on the moon of Endor, but this AT-AT does not participate in the battle.
In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the precursor to the AT-AT is the AT-TE (All Terrain Tactical Enforcer) is used extensively in the Battle of Geonosis. However, it is vulnerable to missile fire from Hailfire droids, possibly making its armor much weaker than that of the AT-AT.
In Episode III, large wheeled vehicles, called Juggernauts, appear in the Battle of Kashyyyk. According to Wookieepedia, these Juggernauts were also used in the Battle of Hoth, yet they didn’t appear in Episode V. (1)
In the Expanded Universe, illustrations from the Clone Wars conflict of Jabiim show AT-AT models that look similar to the concept art for The Empire Strikes Back. These early-stage AT-AT’s are weaker than the AT-AT’s in Episode V; they get bogged down in Jabiim’s mud, and could be taken down with blaster fire.
AT-AT concept art:
Rahr West Art Exhibit For UW-Manitowoc Alumni
So the other day I went to the grand opening of an exhibit at the local Rahr West Art Museum where they were featuring the art from UW-Manitowoc Alumni to celebrate 50 years of their art program. My art was among the many things on display there (above). One of my old professors (Berel Lutsky) set it up. He, the dean of students and city mayor were there to say a few words of kindness to kick start the exhibit as well. It was really amazing to see so much local support as well as such a diverse range of talent for the exhibit. I was surely touched and I thank all who attended. For all those who are in the area or will be in the area I encourage you to check the gallery out. The exhibit is open until December 8, 2013. Also, it’s free to get in.
By Flex McCool
James is a freelance artist from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, United Kingdom. He has worked on many art projects including art for Magic: The Gathering and the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. His work is often detailed, well lit and dynamic and he always finds the means to make it phantasmal one way or another. Check out his deviantART gallery, his blog and his CGhub page for more of his awesome work.
The Evolution of Star Wars - Tatooine
By Justin McLaughlin
In order of which Star Wars movie we see first, Episode IV first introduces us to the planet Tatooine, although it isn’t named until Star Wars Episode V. The planet’s name possibly wasn’t given to reinforce the idea of Tatooine as an unimportant backwater. Indeed, Luke said, “If there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.”
It’s therefore somewhat ironic that every Star Wars movie besides Episode V revisits Tatooine. Since the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy cover (in-universe) a period of 36 years, each movie shows the planet in a slightly different way.
In Episode I, we see the settlement of Mos Espa, and the Boonta Eve podracing track. Mos Espa is described as consisting of either poor farmers, or criminal elements, and Jabba the Hutt, (along with other Hutts) is in charge of the planet.
Podracing is the major sport on Tatooine in Episode I, however, in Episode IV, Luke mentions racing his T-16 (definitely not a Podracer) although Podracing apparently continued up through the time of Episode IV.
In Episode II, Anakin and Padme return to Tatooine, looking for Anakin’s mother. They briefly visit Mos Espa, but soon reach the Lars Homestead. The Lars Homestead actually looks very similar to its appearance in Episode IV. When Anakin brings his dead mother back to the farm, she is buried a short ways from the farm’s domed entrance. Continuity-wise, it is strange that her tombstone doesn’t appear in Episode IV. Could Luke have learned more about his father and grandmother from that tombstone? According to Wookieepedia, Owen Lars removed the headstones, possibly to prevent Luke from learning about his grandmother. 1
Tatooine is only briefly seen in Episode III, as Obi-Wan drops Luke off with Owen and Beru. Off-screen, Obi-Wan then settled in an abandoned house a ways off from the Lars homestead.
The first appearance of Tatooine (for the audience) is Star Wars Episode IV. At first, we see the planet from C-3PO’s and R2-D2’s perspective, respectively as a vast sandy expanse and as a rocky, mountainous area.
We again see the Lars homestead, much as it was in Episode II. Nothing much about the homestead itself has changed, but the inhabitants have. Cliegg Lars and Shmi Skywalker from the prequels are gone, and, re-watching the original trilogy, it seems strange that they have apparently been forgotten by the time of Episode IV.
In Episode VI, we don’t see the Lars homestead, but we do see Jabba’s Palace and his sail barge. Luke comments, “There’s nothing to see [here]. I used to live here, you know” since the region shown during the sail barge scene is the north end of the Dune Sea, an expanse of sand dunes.