John Knoll "Tinkering" With a New 'Star Wars' Story Idea

He participated on a panel about the sound and visual effects in 'Rogue One' on Wednesday at NAB.
Courtesy of Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Industrial Light & Magic’s John Knoll, who served as visual effects supervisor on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, also conceived the film's original story — and now he's at it again, telling The Hollywood Reporter that he’s “tinkering” with another Star Wars-related idea.

“I have another idea I’ve been tinkering with,” he said after participating on a Rogue One Super Session during the National Association of Broadcasters Show. “It’s maybe 75 percent there. I haven’t pitched it to [Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy]. It’s another Star Wars thing.”

Upcoming Star Wars films already in the works include Star Wars: The Last Jedi, opening in December; a Han Solo movie in 2018; Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019; and an untitled anthology film planned for 2020. “There’s no reason to think Disney is going to stop wanting to make Star Wars movies if there’s quality and there’s interest,” Knoll reasoned. “It has unlimited potential. It has a huge number of characters, worlds … It’s a massive playground.”

At NAB, Knoll presented a look back at the work on last year's Rogue One before a packed auditorium of wildly enthusiastic fans, alongside ILM animation supervisor Hal Hickel, who described the making of the digital version of Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin of the 1977-Star Wars era; and Matthew Wood, supervising sound editor and sound design at Skywalker Sound, who discussed critical sounds include those of environments and weapons. The session was presented by Motion Picture Sound Editors and NAB (THR’s Carolyn Giardina moderated).

On the subject of creating a digital human, Knoll said,“It’s definitely an issue if the actor has passed away without stating any intention or desire about how his or her likeness should be dealt with. Then it falls to their estate. That’s a problem that will start solving itself. Now the technology exists and actors are aware of this and can make their wishes known. For instance. Robin Williams included this in his will.”

Knoll also pointed out that the uses can vary — for instance a likeness to pitch a product in a commercial is different compared with the appearance of the character Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One. “He was an important character to tell the story. There wasn’t a good way to tell the political intrigue without including Tarkin. We also knew Cushing. He was a friend to Lucasfilm and was proud of his involvement with Star Wars.”

With extensive use of behind-the-scene clips, Knoll discussed topics including virtual production and the use of LED panels as a lighting instrument. Of the latter, he said. “You can prepare the images in advance and then light the characters. I think it’s going to be an important part of the toolset.”

comments powered by Disqus