George Lucas leaves for Sydney, Australia in just two weeks to begin principal photography for Episode III. While Producer Rick McCallum is down under driving construction crews, costume and prop departments, and countless others in preparation for the director's arrival, the teams in the U.S. are feverishly attempting to wrap-up as many tasks as possible before he leaves. With much of the basic look of the characters, vehicles and locations of Episode III finalized, the size of the Concept Design team has dwindled somewhat as Iain McCaig and others have moved on to other projects. Ryan Church, Eric Teimens and the remaining artists are now concentrating on storyboards and specific details that help to dictate the movie's solidifying story line.
Meanwhile, Ben Burtt is hard at work compiling computer-generated animatics from Dan Gregoire's pre-visualization team, footage from Australia of Hayden Christensen and other stunt doubles performing Nick Gillard's preliminary stunt choreography, scans of storyboards and artwork, some occasional stock footage and a soundtrack of Burtt himself performing dialog for all of the characters. Each week, this assembly is reviewed with Lucas as a rough-cut of the film's major sequences is coming together. With only two more meetings remaining, this compilation will serve as reference for the live-action crew.
Not to be left behind, a team at Industrial Light & Magic have also begun work for Episode III, starting with the task of three-dimensional computer modeling of finalized vehicles, droids and species and delving into research and development on a number of new techniques expected to be needed.
With a few drafts of the script behind him, Lucas is focused on working through each sequence in detail with the shooting script scheduled to be in place in time before the start of filming in late June.
Starting June 10 (with a free preview on June 5), starwars.com Hyperspace members will be able to experience life on the set of the sixth Star Wars film each day through the Episode III Set Diary with unprecedented access and insight every step of the way. Of course, stay tuned to starwars.com for regular updates on development as they happen.