schwit1 writes If you feel a disturbance in the Force, it's millions of voices suddenly crying out the new title of Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens. The reveal comes as the movie finishes its final day of shooting (with many more months of post-production to come.) Although there were still a few days left of shooting, the cast of the J.J. Abrams film already celebrated their wrap party last weekend, following a bumpy few months of principal photography thrown into crisis when Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, broke his leg on set in an accident involving a falling door on the Millennium Falcon.
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An anonymous reader writes Chicago has some great museums, but none have architecture that excite me as much as the renderings (read "storyboards, not blueprints," but they're also called "plans," which I hope means they're pretty accurate) of George Lucas's Star Wars museum. Technically, it's the "George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art," but we know what he means, and these pictures only make the point clearer. Says the Associated Press story, "The Beijing-based principal designer, Ma Yansong of MAD Architects, released the first sketches Tuesday. The seven-story museum will be located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place on Lake Michigan. It's expected to cost about $400 million. Ma has said it's the most important project of his career to date."
An anonymous reader writes: 390,127 Brits declared their religion as Jediism in their last census — many as a joke, but some are quite serious, the BBC reports. Cambridge University Divinity Faculty researcher Beth Singler estimates at least 2,000 of them are "genuine," around the same number as the Church of Scientology. The U.K. Church of Jediism has 200,000 members worldwide. Their belief system has expanded well beyond the Star Wars universe to include tenets from Taoism, Buddhism, Catholicism and Samurai. Former priest, psychotherapist and writer Mark Vernon finds real power in the Jedi story: "The reason it's so powerful and universal is that we have to find ourselves. It's by losing ourselves and identifying with something greater like the Jedi myth that we find a fuller life."
Lasrick links to this interview with Peter Kuran, an animator of the original Star Wars and legendary visual effects artist, writing If you saw the recent remake of Godzilla, you saw stock footage from Atom Central, known on YouTube as 'the atomic bomb channel.' Atom Central is the brainchild of Kuran, who among his many talents is an expert on archival films of the atmospheric testing era of 1945 to 1963. Combining his film restoration and photography expertise with his interest in nuclear history, he has also produced and directed five documentaries. He is currently working with Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories to preserve and catalog images from the bomb-testing era, and to produce a technical handbook that will help people understand these images and the techniques used to create them.
Two and a half years ago, we posted news of the completion of the Star Wars Uncut project. Now, reader kdataman writes that another fan-made Star Wars movie remake is ready to watch; this time it's Empire: 480 fan-created 15-second clips have been assembled to remake the entire movie, scene for scene (but not always word for word). The variations swing from professional production values to cardboard cutouts, but they are all creative and many are hilarious. Hard to pick a favorite scene but the guys at MTV selected a few highlights.
An anonymous reader writes The BBC and RT report that 16 men named after the Star Wars character "Darth Vader" are running for parliamentary elections in Ukraine later this month. In addition, a Chewbacca, Palpatin, Padme Amidala and Grand Jedi Master Yoda will stand in the snap October 26 polls. All of them have been nominated for parliament by the Internet Party of Ukraine. "This is not the first time Darth Vader has stood for election in Ukraine. In April, a man going by that name tried running for presidency, but his application was rejected by the Central Electoral Commission. One official suggested that his campaign could be an attempt to make a mockery of elections in Ukraine - possibly by Russia."
An anonymous reader writes PBS' It's OK to be Smart made this interesting video showing us what is and isn't physically realistic or possible in the space battles we've watched on TV and the movies. From the article: "You're probably aware that most sci-fi space battles aren't realistic. The original Star Wars' Death Star scene was based on a World War II movie, for example. But have you wondered what it would really be like to duke it out in the void? PBS is more than happy to explain in its latest It's Okay To Be Smart video. As you'll see below, Newtonian physics would dictate battles that are more like Asteroids than the latest summer blockbuster. You'd need to thrust every time you wanted to change direction, and projectiles would trump lasers (which can't focus at long distances); you wouldn't hear any sound, either."
Jason Koebler writes Over the last couple of weeks, people have been flying drones over Pinewood Studios, where Star Wars Episode VII is being filmed. That made waves last week, but, perhaps most interestingly, the studio ordered a "DroneShield" back in June anticipating the drone problem. According to the company, a DroneShield can provide email and SMS warnings if it detects a helicopters or drone. In any case, the folks over at DroneShield say that Pinewood Studios never actually got the product: The State Department keeps close tabs on products like these that are shipped overseas, and the company's export application still hasn't gone through.
First time accepted submitter wijnands (874114) writes Star Wars crews have started filming on the small Irish Island of Skellig Michael. This island, listed as a Unesco world heritage site, features the remains of a 6th century monastery as well as breeding populations of puffins, manx shearwaters, storm petrels, guillemots and kittiwakes. Currently the Irish navy has deployed one vessel to maintain a two-mile exclusion zone around the island. Unesco is now concerned about what is going on the island, which is only visited 13 times a year by tourist groups, and has asked the Irish government for an explanation.
netringer writes: George Lucas has selected Chicago over Los Angeles and San Francisco as the future home of The Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts, housing his collection of Star Wars art and movie memorabilia along with exhibits of the technology of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Where else but on the Chicago Lakefront will be it easy to recreate the ice planet of Hoth?
An anonymous reader writes "10 years ago today, in the wake of two disappointing Star Wars prequels, we discussed whether Episode III could salvage itself or the series. Now, as production is underway on Episode VII under the care of Disney, I was wondering the same thing: can it return Star Wars to its former glory? On one hand, many critics of the prequels have gotten what they wanted — George Lucas has a reduced role in the production of Episode VII. Critically, he didn't write the screenplay, which goes a long way toward avoiding the incredibly awkward dialogue of the prequels. On the other hand, they're actively breaking with the expanded universe canon, and the series is now under the stewardship of J.J. Abrams. His treatment of the Star Trek reboot garnered lots of praise and lots of criticism — but his directorial style is arguably more suited to Star Wars anyway. What do you think? What can they do with Episode VII to put the series back on track?"
An anonymous reader writes "Lost amid the disappointment of the Star Wars prequels were the unfortunate edits George Lucas has made to the original trilogy when he re-released them. Lee Hutchinson points out a few of the worst: 'In Return of the Jedi, Jabba's palace gains an asinine CGI-filled song-and-dance interlude. Dialogue is butchered in Empire Strikes Back. And in the first movie, perhaps most famously, Han no longer shoots first.' Lucas flat-out refused to spend time and money remastering the original versions of the movies. But now Disney is in control of the franchise (and the business case for releasing different versions of the same films has been proven). So there's hope, right? According to Hutchinson: maybe, but not for a while. While technological advances have reduced the price tag for such an endeavour, lawyers will keep it expensive. It turns out 20th Century Fox still owns distribution rights to the Star Wars films. Because of complex and irritating legal reasons, Disney was not able to acquire those as well. Thus, Disney will have to get Fox's approval and probably cut Fox in for some of the profits, if they were to re-release the series."
mpicpp (3454017) writes in with good news for everyone worrying about the strength of their shields. "If you have often imagined yourself piloting your X-Wing fighter on an attack run on the Death Star, you'll be reassured that University of Leicester students have demonstrated that your shields could take whatever the Imperial fleet can throw at you. The only drawback is that you won't be able to see a thing outside of your starfighter. In anticipation of Star Wars Day on 4 May, three fourth-year Physics students at the University have proven that shields, such as those seen protecting spaceships in the Star Wars film series, would not only be scientifically feasible, they have also shown that the science behind the principle is already used here on Earth."
eldavojohn writes: "Word was leaking this week of some familiar faces in London hanging out together. Finally today an official cast listing for Star Wars Episode VII was handed down from on high to us mere mortals (Google Cache and Onion AV recap available). From the short release, 'Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.' Let's not bicker and argue about who shot first but instead come to an agreement on expected levels of almost certain disappointment. No, this will not feature the Expanded Universe (EU) — you can now refer to those tales as 'Legends' which are not part of Star Wars canon. Instead prepare yourself for what will likely be the mother of all retcon films."
RogueyWon writes: "A recent blog post from Lucasarts had confirmed that the new Star Wars movies planned for release by Disney will formally break continuity with the Expanded Universe novels, comics and video games. They say, 'In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe.' The news is unlikely to be a surprise, given George Lucas's previous pronouncements on the issue."
First time accepted submitter neuroscroll (579178) writes "An unorthodox candidate presented himself for the future early presidential elections in Ukraine: the Darth Vader himself is promising to make an empire out of a republic. He is the official candidate of the Ukrainian Internet party. From the article: 'The Sith lord, or at least an unnamed costumed protester often seen on Kiev's Independence Square flanked by his loyal stormtroopers during the winter protests, has been chosen as the official candidate of the Ukrainian Internet party (UIP) which has become known for its theatrical public stunts. "After winning intra-party primaries by a landslide, comrade Vader will be our party's candidate," said the UIP leader, Dmitry Golubov, who spent time in prison after being convicted of using the internet to run a credit card fraud scheme.'"
drxenos writes "A LaserDisc purchased on eBay was found to contain raw footage from Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi. From the article: 'The origin of the LaserDisc isn't entirely clear, but it was purchased for $699 off eBay, apparently once used to demonstrate Lucasfilm's EditDroid station — one of the first digital film editing systems sold nearly 30 years ago. Ironically, George Lucas himself never used EditDroid to make a movie; the Star Wars clips were loaded simply to show off its capabilities to prospective buyers.'"
juliangamble writes "Designer Prescott Harvey has written and animated an open letter to J.J. Abrams about the plans for the next Star Wars movie. He says, 'Like so many people, I've spent most of my recent years wondering why the original Star Wars trilogy was so awesome, and the new movies were so terrible. What are the factors that make Star Wars Star Wars? I took an empirical approach, determining what elements were in the original movies that differed from the prequels. My first major epiphany was that, in the originals, the characters are always outside somewhere very remote. The environment and the wildlife are as much a threat as the empire. All three movies had this bushwacky, exploratory feel. Contrast that with the prequels, where the characters are often in cities, or in the galactic senate. In order for Star Wars to feel like a true adventure, the setting has to be the frontier, and this became my first rule.'"
An anonymous reader sends this story from Kotaku's Jason Schreier about the downfall of LucasArts: "Over the last five months, I've talked to a dozen people connected to LucasArts, including ex-employees at the company's highest levels, in an attempt to figure out just how the studio collapsed. Some spoke off the record; others spoke under condition of anonymity. They told me about the failed deals, the drastic shifts in direction, the cancelled projects with codenames like Smuggler and Outpost. They told me the stories behind the fantastic-looking Star Wars 1313 and the multi-tiered plans for a new Battlefront starting with the multiplayer game known as Star Wars: First Assault. All of these people helped paint a single picture: Even before Disney purchased LucasFilm, the parent company of LucasArts, in November of 2012, the studio faced serious issues. LucasArts was a company paralyzed by dysfunction, apathy, and indecision from executives at the highest levels."
First time accepted submitter loftarasa writes "A group of scientists led by Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin and MIT Professor of Physics Vladan Vuletic have developed a form of matter by binding massless photons together in a special kind of medium to create 'photonic molecules', effectively bringing us a bit closer to a world with lightsabers. 'The discovery, Lukin said, runs contrary to decades of accepted wisdom about the nature of light. Photons have long been described as massless particles which don't interact with each other – shine two laser beams at each other, he said, and they simply pass through one another. "Photonic molecules," however, behave less like traditional lasers and more like something you might find in science fiction – the light saber.' The work is described in Nature (paywalled)."