'Star Wars' Co-Producer Dishes on the Film's Final Shot and HDR

Courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.

A few Star Wars: The Force Awakens details were revealed by the film's co-producer during a Hollywood tech retreat.

Co-producer Ben Rosenblatt answered questions about how the film was made and the ending. The final shot of the film was lensed from a helicopter, looking down at Rey and Luke, but Rosenblatt admitted that director J.J. Abrams was conflicted about using that shot or concluding with a close-up of Rey. He added that the decision was driven by John Williams' score, and it "left you with this sweeping emotional epic [feel], and you’re going to see a lot of that in Episode VIII.”

Asked whether he thought Abrams or George Lucas influenced the look of The Force Awakens, he responded: “Both. It was J.J., but J.J. was honoring George’s original vision. … But J.J. brought his own visual language to the film."

The producer spoke during a standing-room-only session at the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) Tech Retreat, which wraps Friday at the Hyatt Indian Wells in Palm Springs.

Switching to the subject of delivery versions, he stated, "Overall, the thing that has frustrated me throughout the process of working on Star Wars is a lack of standards. Once upon a time, it was just how many release prints. ... [Now there are] all of these are different formats that you have to deliver. There are now so many delivery standards that it really does make your head spin."

He estimated that in the case of The Force Awakens, there were roughly 482 different versions. In addition to the different languages, he added that they needed technical formats including 5.1, 7.1, and Atmos sound; Dolby Vision, Imax “regular” and Imax laser production; and 4D formats like DBox.

“It really came to a head at the end, when we had to feed all these different beasts," Rosenblatt said. "Especially when you're still changing shots. ... God forbid there was a fix that we had to make."

The deliverables included two high dynamic range (HDR) supported theatrical formats—Dolby Vision/Dolby Cinema and Imax laser projection. HDR refers to a wider range between the whitest whites and blackest blacks.

Rosenblatt reported that there’s more to come in HDR from Abrams, saying “We are doing our HDR passes on Star Wars, and both Star Trek's and the last Mission Impossible. ... To me, HDR is an opportunity. It makes a noticeable visual difference."