Duncanator

Sr Member
What were you working on before Star Wars then? How'd you get your start and what were you wanting to work on in a non-Star Wars era at Lucasfilm?

Also, what was the design briefing like? You mentioned before having a bit of creative freedom, particularly in shaping the bottom of the model. Did Doug Chiang just hand you a bunch of concept art and say go to town? I'm interested in how the review process went about, since, like you pointed out, some of the features like the cockpit and blended wings that show up on the final maquettes aren't present on the wooden model. I would've assumed that wooden model was the master that the maquettes were cast off of.

I started at ILM in the early 90's and was there till they closed down the modelshop in '07. It seemed like ILM had a piece of nearly every movie being made ( a slight exaggeration). The first project I worked on was a commercial - ILM had a commercials division back then in addition to films. The first movie I worked on was Star Trek: First Contact, which was another child fantasy since I was a Trek fan before Star Wars existed. Then I worked on Men in Black and some other films and commercials at ILM before getting the prequel call. Steve Gawley was the one who told me that I had be selected, which was another thrill - I had his bubblegum card! (I didn't tell him that till years later.)

John Goodson and I were given a lot of room to to interpret and add to the designs. Doug was great about telling us what elements were important to him, and trust us to take it and run with it after that. It mostly followed this process: every Friday the Art department had our meeting with George, and he would introduce new story and design ideas, and then take a look at what we'd come up with since the previous meeting.
Let's take the Naboo fighter for instance. George would talk about what it wanted to generally look like, what it did and how it should "feel". Then Doug and/or other artists would draw sketches to flesh out the design. Mostly the drawings were simple sketches, sometimes with close-up sketches of critical detail areas. Once the drawings were approved by George, they were handed off to me to do a quick, rough, small model in foam and cardboard. After the rough models were approved, I would make the finished model. But even then the design might keep evolving.
The wooden model was approved and then got molded, but then Doug wanted the wings and engines blending in with fillets - so I added that to a casting, and then that one was remolded.

It was a very collaborative process. There was a lot of back and forth, asking questions, approvals and changes. The Naboo fighter had a torpedo pod mounted on a fin above the cockpit, and that element had survived through all the drawings. But once George saw it in-the-flesh he didn't like it, and snapped it off the model to see what it looked like without it. As an concept artist, you can't be precious about your work. We were building these toys for him, and if he wanted to break it - well, it was his toy.
 

Flintlock

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Also, haven't been able to track down the CG model. I've gone through every webpage mentioning naboo or the naboo starfighter from 1999 to 2002, but unfortunately a lot of this stuff was on old forum sites that don't seem to be up any more and weren't indexed by Google :/

...

Thank you for sharing those.
 

Baruopa

Member
Few more pieces I dug up today.
I found some close ups of the concept maquette, looks to be an early casting as it's before the blended wings or cockpit were added, as well as a higher quality version of the turntable. I've added them to the intro post and Google Photos album (linked in the intro post), and I replaced the old turntable with this one.

I also found these two photos of the painted concept maquette off an old Russian site. They're clearly edits from the same set on the CD-ROM. They also appear in the Chronicles Prequels book along with one other from the same shoot, and yet another shows up in the "Official Souvinier Magazine". I don't have either at the moment, but I'll scan them when I do. What I'd really like to find is just a high-quality version of the original photographs all together.

It also looks like there's another unseen photo in the Making of The Phantom Menace book of George examining an unpainted pyro. I've got the book on the way so I'll scan and upload it when I've got it.

I've spent quite a long time digging through internet archives from the 90s and early 2000s and I'm having a hard time finding more than what I've already uncovered, so it looks like these books are the next/last step for the time being. As far as I'm aware at the moment, they're the only books that showcase photos of the props not already in this thread, but I'm hoping I'm wrong and that I'll soon uncover a collection of all of the production photos in glorious high definition. Ha ha -_-

In other news, I also found this high-speed pyro footage that was being shot in the video already in this thread. From this perspective it's pretty clear that this is the green astromech pyro that was displayed at Celebration I; the damage and weathering are exact. Reviewing the prepping photo, you can clearly see the green astromech. I don't know how I missed it, but I've added the new footage and moved the rest to the green astromech section in both the thread and the Google Photos album.

Thanks again to everyone. If you have any photos or stories, or even think you know someone or somewhere who might, please let me know! New material is starting to dry up so I think I've just about compiled all of the existing media that's been published of the physical props, but I'd love to be wrong!
 

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joberg

Master Member
I started at ILM in the early 90's and was there till they closed down the modelshop in '07. It seemed like ILM had a piece of nearly every movie being made ( a slight exaggeration). The first project I worked on was a commercial - ILM had a commercials division back then in addition to films. The first movie I worked on was Star Trek: First Contact, which was another child fantasy since I was a Trek fan before Star Wars existed. Then I worked on Men in Black and some other films and commercials at ILM before getting the prequel call. Steve Gawley was the one who told me that I had be selected, which was another thrill - I had his bubblegum card! (I didn't tell him that till years later.)

John Goodson and I were given a lot of room to to interpret and add to the designs. Doug was great about telling us what elements were important to him, and trust us to take it and run with it after that. It mostly followed this process: every Friday the Art department had our meeting with George, and he would introduce new story and design ideas, and then take a look at what we'd come up with since the previous meeting.
Let's take the Naboo fighter for instance. George would talk about what it wanted to generally look like, what it did and how it should "feel". Then Doug and/or other artists would draw sketches to flesh out the design. Mostly the drawings were simple sketches, sometimes with close-up sketches of critical detail areas. Once the drawings were approved by George, they were handed off to me to do a quick, rough, small model in foam and cardboard. After the rough models were approved, I would make the finished model. But even then the design might keep evolving.
The wooden model was approved and then got molded, but then Doug wanted the wings and engines blending in with fillets - so I added that to a casting, and then that one was remolded.

It was a very collaborative process. There was a lot of back and forth, asking questions, approvals and changes. The Naboo fighter had a torpedo pod mounted on a fin above the cockpit, and that element had survived through all the drawings. But once George saw it in-the-flesh he didn't like it, and snapped it off the model to see what it looked like without it. As an concept artist, you can't be precious about your work. We were building these toys for him, and if he wanted to break it - well, it was his toy.
Thank you Duncanator for the "Behind-the-scene" collaborative process (y) (y) :cool::cool::notworthy::notworthy::notworthy::notworthy: and you're right about the feeling of "ownership" we have, as artists, about our work. It's like a parent; you give birth, you see it grow up and one day, you have to let go.
It's still, sometimes, difficult;)
 

Baruopa

Member
Hey all, I've added a few more photos and BTS videos I've been able to find, and I'm working on documenting all of my sources in the photo description in the Google Photos Album in case some future forum goer needs them. I got ahold of two of the books with undocumented images, and I've scanned and uploaded them. Withstanding the other two books (Prequels Chronicles and Sculpting a Galaxy, which I am still after and will scan and upload when I have them), I'm fairly certain that this is the extent of published images of the Naboo Starfighter models. A lot of them aren't of the highest quality, but there's certainly enough of them to provide a solid reference for anyone looking to replicate it. I'll continue to upload if I find anything in the future, but I'm well content with my search now and seem to have gone down every avenue I can think to search. Thanks again! I enjoyed this little excursion into modeling's creative process immensely :)
 

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