Star Wars: Episode III: Episode III continues to gain momentum as the May 19, 2005 date looms ever nearer. The next big milestone has been scheduled -- the round of additional photography (also known as "pick ups") that fills in the missing pieces of the current edit of the picture.

As was done in the previous films, the first round of principal photography is followed by months of editing that generate new angles, scenes, and ideas. These will be captured onto HD in a brief but intense stint of additional photography.

"We're honing in a second cut of the film for July," says Producer Rick McCallum. Director George Lucas has shown the rough cut to select department heads and close friends, and the evolving edit currently has a number of placeholder animatics that will have to be replaced with new footage.

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Starting August 23 and running through September 4, Director George Lucas will again roll cameras on Episode III, this time in the UK. "We've got two full weeks of shooting," says McCallum. Among the cast members slated to work in that period are Silas Carson, Hayden Christensen, Anthony Daniels, Samuel L. Jackson, Ian McDiarmid, Christopher Lee, Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman.

Returning from the Sydney shoot, Creature Shop Supervisors Dave and Lou Elsey will be on hand, as will Costume Designer Trisha Biggar and Supervising Art Director Peter Russell. The rest of the small crew will be mostly new hands.

"It will be primarily blue and greenscreen shooting. There won't be any full sets, but there may be large set pieces. This round of shooting is mostly just patching holes and providing transitions," adds McCallum. "We do have a whole new sequence with Hayden and Yoda."

Meanwhile, at ILM work continues at a steadily increasing pace to meet the April 1, 2005 deadline of over 2,000 visual effects shots. Joining the production as a Visual Effects Supervisor is Roger Guyett. His previous projects as VFX supervisor include Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Timeline, Tears of the Sun and Saving Private Ryan. He joins Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll and Animation Supervisor Rob Coleman .

"On Episodes I and II, we had three supervisors from the very start, but this time we're bringing them in over time," says McCallum. "Roger will have huge sequences. John Knoll's unit will end up having about 1,000 shots, and I can easily see Roger having 1,000 as well."

Guyett is currently overseas shooting exotic background plate photography for what will become the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk.

Brian B.