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Visual Effects Legend Dennis Muren Still Doesn’t Know What To Make Of Star Wars’ Success

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In a 2017 interview for the official “Star Wars” website, Dennis Muren admitted that he doesn’t fully understand why the first film ever became as popular as it did. In his mind, the special effects that he helped create for George Lucas’ science fiction narrative weren’t all that special. What’s more interesting is how he felt that other sci-fi flicks were doing the same work … but better. Muren said: 

“I knew we were doing something different. I didn’t necessarily think it was going to change things, because I didn’t think it was nearly as realistic as ‘2001,’ which was done the same way, but without all the flexibility of the cameras and the blue screen, and that looked just phenomenal. To me, even in seeing the work in ‘Star Wars’ while we were doing it, most of the shots looked very crude. The ships were doing funny maneuvers, they don’t seem to be responding the way inertia would actually move something, and there’s just huge matte lines in some shots. […] It’s amazing that some of those shots are even in the show because it was such a rush. Things were changing all the time in the edit.”

For the curious, matte lines are the visual seams in a composite shot (i.e. a shot that involves present and non-present entities. Think any live-action shot that includes a blue screen or CGI elements). If matte lines are noticeable, then it means that the composition was either completed without proper time or proper skill, perhaps even both. According to Muren’s claim, “Star Wars” did not offer the special effects team proper time to edit. Despite this, the franchise launched to vigorous aplomb.

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