SS models .. a good read on history of props

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mofo77

Well-Known Member
great read,really fascinating.would love to see a coffee table book on this and all the other SW models.would be a great companion book to lorne's book and the rinzler ones.:)
 

Avanaut

Well-Known Member
Oh, you must be talking about THIS book. That's the book I want anyway. :D
great read,really fascinating.would love to see a coffee table book on this and all the other SW models.would be a great companion book to lorne's book and the rinzler ones.:)
The blog where that Millennium Falcon piece is on is pure gold, by the way, please check the other posts as well. It's brilliant!
 

moffeaton

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I have been stumping for a book like that for a while, lol. Great minds think alike!
LFL didn't seem to think it was viable at one point, but you never know.

Michael Heilemann's article is awesome. I had some long talks with him to share what I have learned which he incorporated far better than I could have written (I share his passion for the Pirate Ship to Falcon transfer) and am one of the people he mentioned that have seen the privately-held sketches that still haven't been released. Based on what I have seen, it's my belief that there was a brief moment, probably a blip that lasted a day or two, tops - an idea to "skin" the Blockade Runner to make it less "Space:1999-like". EVERYTHING lines up in the design - the dish in situ is centralized at what is now a Falcon turret, there are four fore turrets where the mandible access pits are now, and the mandibles themselves are just fairings from a saucer shape to the in situ centralized cockpit. It would have been cheap, it would have been fast, and it would have been UGLY.

But when you pop that idea off of the Pirate Ship in late 1975, and look at it by itself, it's a powerful design. Make the cockpit asymmetrically mounted, balance it with an asymmetrically relocated dish, and put the guns in the middle? Boom, Millennium Falcon.

Time and time again there has been "written in stone" recollections from people that then were proven to be "mis-remembrances" (like we are all prone to do), and man, this whole design process was literally done in a heated 30 day period or so. There are so many unanswered questions and my personal belief really neatly and logically answers a few key ones.... but we may never know.

Whatever the case, it's a hell of a good thing to learn about and speculate on!!


Oh, you must be talking about THIS book. That's the book I want anyway. :D

The blog where that Millennium Falcon piece is on is pure gold, by the way, please check the other posts as well. It's brilliant!
 

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moffeaton

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Joe Johnston weighed in:

"I just read Michael Heilemann's well-researched but somewhat ponderous treatise on the "Complete Conceptual History of the Millenium Falcon". While I appreciate Mr. Heilemann's love of his subject matter, many of his 'facts', or perhaps more fairly, presumptions, are indeed fiction. At the same time he's right about many of the things he presumes. I don't think anyone ever went to the painstaking research to try to fill in the same level of detail. I hope this will clarify a few points. I've told this story before but it doesn't seem to stick, so here we go again. I am not here to claim responsibility for things I did not do. The creation of A NEW HOPE, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI was a long and arduous collaboration among many thousands of talented people.
The design of the Millenium Falcon was a different and unique set of circumstances.
I can only speak from my memory of events that took place over forty years ago, and I'll be the first to say I may be wrong about certain details but the big picture I remember quite well. One of my biggest regrets is that Ralph McQuarrie and I never sat down and compared notes regarding our memory of events.
First of all, the name "Millenium Falcon" was never used to describe the ship that was originally intended to be Han Solo's hot rod freighter. To the best of my knowledge George coined that term after the "Pirate Ship" (Han's original ship) became the Rebel Blockade Runner and the ship we now know as the Falcon was under construction.
When the TV show "Space 1999" began airing, George felt that the shape of Han's ship, then referred to as the "Pirate Ship" was too similar. This ship was originally redesigned from an early Colin Cantwell design that pre-dated the opening of the ILM facility in Van Nuys. (The name INDUSTRIAL LIGHT AND MAGIC was not even in use for well over a year after the visual effects facility was in operation.)
The Pirate Ship was well under construction with many components of the model finished in great detail. George gave me the task of quickly designing a new ship, saying that the shape wasn't important as long as it didn't look anything like the ship from the TV show. The model shop had to stick to pretty much the same schedule of shooting that had been planned for the Pirate Ship. Grant McCune and his team were well aware that this model was going to have to come together very quickly.
I spent about a day doing a series of very rough sketches that soon evolved toward a disk-shaped hull with a long horizontal slot-shaped engine at the back instead of the traditional round nacelles seen on almost every other ship. Grant McCune asked if I could incorporate two elements from the old ship that had already been finished, the cockpit and the "radar" dish. The Blockade Runner was given the "Hammerhead" cockpit as a replacement.
I showed George the stack of sketches and we agreed on the general direction, with the offset cockpit and the raised "waistline" hexagonal structures, opposing gun ports and asymmetric details like the radar dish . Because of the time crunch there weren't a lot of drawings done after this point, as the construction needed to get under way. I worked with the model builders to monitor the design as the ship began to take shape.
Heilemann makes reference to storyboards that show a slightly different design. Storyboards were never used as design sketches. Each individual board artist was drawing his own version of the ships but the boards were not referred to by model builders for design details. Except in the very early stages of storyboarding, models were already built before the boards were drawn. Gary Myers did some excellent work on storyboarding several of the FX sequences, but he was not hired as a designer and to my knowledge didn't work outside the field of storyboarding, at least not on A NEW HOPE.
A note about Colin Cantwell. Colin deserves a lot of credit for the initial vision of what A NEW HOPE looked like, at least in the form of its hardware. It's true that all his designs were re-designed to a varying degree but a strong Cantwell influence shows through on most of them.
Finally, Heilemann attempts to put some kind of timeline to the different phases but it's a futile undertaking. For instance, Colin Cantwell delivered his models to George, and that was the end of his involvement. I never even met him. Ralph started his illustrations based on the Cantwell designs as evidenced by the illustration of the TIE fighters approaching the "Cloud City", but adjusted them when new designs came into being, sometimes actually painting over old designs as he did with the illustrations of the Falcon in the hangar bay at Mos Eisley.
Ralph's initial handful of illustrations based on conversations with George is what convinced Alan Ladd Jr. to roll the dice with George and his "space western". Without Ralph's fantastic and inspirational artwork it's very possible that there never would have been a STAR WARS.
Heilemann is correct in his assumption about the storyboard with the missing cockpit. I just forgot to add it. There were far more egregious mistakes made in many of my other boards!
I'm now encouraged to dig through the forgotten vault to see if the alternative Falcon designs do still exist. My kids need to go to college too.
--Joe Johnston
3/12/16"
 
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Lee S

Sr Member
Great info from Joe!!!
I certainly think a 'complete history of the Falcon' could be turned into a (large!) book.
Covering both the factual side (design/miniatures/sets) and the fictional (story/origin)

L
 

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craig g

Well-Known Member
Great info from Joe!!!
I certainly think a 'complete history of the Falcon' could be turned into a (large!) book.
Covering both the factual side (design/miniatures/sets) and the fictional (story/origin)

L
I'd definitely buy it
 

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