Star Wars: Episode III: Episode III starts with a bang. The starfleets of the Galactic Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems are locked in a jumbled brawl of lumbering capital ships and swift starfighters, exchanging fire high in the Coruscant atmosphere.
Hundreds upon hundreds of ships are engaged in this high-stakes battle of the Clone Wars, but the audience will only really follow two small snubfighters into the thick of battle. As Obi-Wan and Anakin dive into the heart of the conflict to carry out a most important mission, they'll be the camera's guide through the chaos.
Designing the motion of the revealing opening shot fell to Animatics Artist Euisung Lee, but filling the enormous background battle in the entire scene is a group effort. "We had a brainstorming session about possible cool background battle stuff that can happen," he says. "We have a list of ideas. I don't know how many of them are actually in the movie, but we had come up with some modular background action so that we can pop them into place."
One of Lee's most intriguing contributions may be missed upon first glance, tucked away as it is in the backdrop of the action. A triangular Jedi cruiser is locked in a deadly embrace with the much larger Trade Federation battleship, occupying the gap between the battleship's forward arms and pointing its dagger-like nose straight towards the huge central sphere.
"My thought was that maybe the clones were actually boarding the donut ship," explains Lee. "There's an opening in the waist of the Jedi ship. The middle sphere is falling apart. The idea is that they took over the whole thing, and the middle sphere is drifting away from the center."
A dry-erase board hanging in the Animatics Department serves as a recipe list for other possible mini-dramas playing in the background of the scene. Note that not all may not be in the final film. This list instead just represents some of the tantalizing possibilities:
* Colliding / scraping starships
* Sacrifice ship to break through blockade
* Diving formation of assault frigates to save cruiser from swarm
* Shockwave causing havoc from large explosion of ship
* Shockwave bombs across surface of larger ship causing damage
* Shockwave bomb on droid fighters
* Tractor beams picking up ships to repair / collision
* Pockets of intense debris caused by explosion that heroes fly through
* Reinforcements dropping out of hyperspace to help less-than-fortunate ship
* Launching and docking tri-fighters / clone fighters
* EMP bomb causing loss of power to large ships, out-of-control collision
* Vulture droids landing on large ships and attacking
* Leaking fuel ignited by ship passing
* Combined ray attack