Droidmaker - George Lucas and the Digital Revolution
COW Library : Adobe After Effects Techniques : Kathlyn Lindeboom : Droidmaker - George Lucas and the Digital Revolution
Before I begin my review of Michael Rubin's book, I have a confession to make: I think that Michael is not only one of the most knowledgeable people in this industry but he's one of the sweetest people in it, as well. So it's always nice when someone you like hits a home run and Michael has indeed done just that with this book.
In its 487 pages, Michael has captured the real story of George Lucas and his place as not only a gifted filmmaker but also one of the true pioneers that forged a technological revolution. Michael outlines areas of the story that few know and the billions of dollars that his ideas generated. Quite an accomplishment for a guy who doesn't really like technology and who doesn't even web surf or play the very Star Wars games that his company sells.
When it comes to the story of George Lucas and the changes he brought to this industry, Michael is qualified to tell the story. In 1985, he joined The Droid Works at Lucasfilm and over the course of the next few years, he helped introduce new technologies at the Droid Works.
What marks this book is not only Michael's technological and logistical understanding of the time, the people and the processes that comprise the story, but he is also first and foremost, a fan. He is not afraid to take you into his own imagination and share the personal impact that George Lucas and his stories have had on his own life. It makes for a fun read, as his passion for his subject is quite apparent and contagious.
Droidmaker unlocks the psyche of George Lucas and gives readers a look into the reasons behind his love of privacy and his near-sibling relationship with fellow filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. In its pages, the reader finds the friendship and competition between two industry giants: one, a passionate and intense outgoing director with a focus on the story and the actors; the other, a quiet, methodical builder who looks at the process and the tools -while both work hard to eschew the studio system and its constraints.
Readers will also enjoy the look at the USC Film School years, where George Lucas bucked the rules and set his focus on becoming a film editor. George liked the focus editing gave him and was not one fond of the activity that directors were prone to. As I read this, it helped me understand why Lucas quickly turned over the directorial reins to the likes of Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, respectively.
Michael tells the story of a man whose own fortunes were tied to the failing American Zoetrope and who was let go on the company's Black Tuesday. Failure came again when his bid to acquire the rights to Flash Gordon, one of Lucas' favorites as a child, also failed to materialize. Into this, Lucas began to form his own story and characters - characters that would need the tools of a new industry to truly tell their story.
To birth his ideas, Lucas would drive technology as far as it was able - birthing an industry in the process. Michael Rubin takes readers through so many facets of the birth of modern film technology that it is clear that, as Michael says: "Only a success on the magnitude of Star Wars itself could eclipse what are likely Lucas' most significant cultural contributions."
Droidmaker is a fun book but also one which pulls back the veil from a man whose unassuming manner belies a remarkable life; one which has been at the forefront of this industry for three decades and shows no sign of letting up.
Just how good is it? To quote Pixar co-founder, Alvy Ray Smith: "I'm pleased to finally read a book that gets it right. Michael not only gets the gist of the story correctly told but he excels in the details. In his book I can celebrate a wonderful time in my life and recall exactly what George Lucas, Steve Jobs and Francis Ford Coppola contributed to our part of the digital revolution."
Highly recommended. Five Cows without a doubt.
Listen to a podcast interview with Michael Rubin, the writer of Droidmaker here.
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