Movies - TV
Star Wars Used Never-Before Seen VFX Tech For The Empire Strikes Back’s Battle Of Hoth
In the “Star Wars” sequel "The Empire Strikes Back," the Rebels are hiding on a frozen planet called Hoth and ride bipedal fantasy creatures known as tauntauns on the planet's snowy terrain. Eventually, the Empire discovers the base and attacks it using large mechanical machines known as AT-AT walkers, whose effects were achieved by animator Phil Tippett through stop-motion technology.
Stop-motion's halting movements, though, could often be smoothed out with motion blur by moving the camera during the shooting process. However, Tippett had to devise new ways to make the AT-AT’s walk even more convincingly, so as not to stand out from the film's other special effects — and thankfully, technicians had relied heavily on a new camera for dogfight sequences in the previous film.
These “Dykstraflex” cameras, invented by John Dykstra, employed novel digital movement controls, allowing them to rotate and slide in ways cameras couldn't before. TIppet explained, “It was just a huge leap forward that went on to being a much more sophisticated [method]” — so much so that it was used again in the next film “Return of the Jedi” and an unrelated project “Dragonslayer.”