ILM once again used the new motion control system – this time, to send Luke Skywalker running under the legs of the mechanical walkers in the snow battle scenes, but that was only one extraordinary effect in a film filled with eye-candy.
The Star Wars team had laid the foundation for the practical application of visual effects innovations. Some would eventually leave to raise the bar for visual effects in their own studios, but a core group stayed together, learning, inventing, teaching others, and establishing a method for creating artistic visual effects at a level few have ever approached.
To realize Empire’s battle sequences featuring Tauntauns and snow walkers a new technique was developed that married the motion control technology that ILM had pioneered for Star Wars and stop motion animation.
In addition to focusing attention on developing a high-speed Vistavision camera, Richard Edlund and the ILM team turned their attention to building a four-projector-head optical printer for compositing, which coupled with advanced bluescreen techniques lead to composites that were superior to those the crew had been able to achieve for A New Hope.