June 16, 2009
by Steven Castle
In “Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith,” Chancellor Palpatine invites Jedi warrior Anakin Skywalker into his impressive office overlooking the capital Galactic City (aka Imperial City). It’s a pivotal moment in the film and the saga, for it is there that Palpatine invites the young Jedi to be his personal representative, setting in motion an inevitable clash. Nothing in the saga will ever the same.
Home theater owner Steve Simon had a pivotal moment as well, though his likely didn’t involve Jedi forces and dark sides. Simon wanted to convert part of his garage into a home theater, and he thought he’d decorate it with the Star Wars memorabilia he had collected over the years.
Simon hired his friend, Jorge Ocampo of Miami-based DreamSpace to be the electronics installer, and DreamSpace does a lot of work with CDGi (Cinema Design Group International), which makes acoustical panels and furnishings for home theaters. Once Simon realized that CDGi’s CinemaScape acoustic system could surround his home theater with customized dye sublimation printing, everything changed. His home theater would no longer be decorated with Star Wars memorabilia. It would be something right out of Star Wars itself.
What to use as inspiration didn’t take much thought. Simon loved the red colors of Palpatine’s majestic office, the futuristic sconces and above all, the backdrop of a detailed capital city. So there was the plan: Simon’s theater would be red, with identical sconces and ringed by windows showing the capital city. “I love the fact that there’s a futuristic city in the backdrop. That’s the place where you get to see most of the city,” Simon says.
DreamSpace and CDGi agreed, and from there, nothing was ever the same. CDGi knew that this would be a great way to show its CinemaScape technology in printing on acoustical fabric. Only there was a major challenge to fulfilling Simon’s request. The detail of the city from the movie couldn’t be copied on the large scale needed for Simon’s theater. The resolution just wasn’t good enough. So CDGi had to re-create the city in detail, using 3D rendering and then transferring that to a computer—several computers, in fact, to handle the huge files. And that would set this project back months.
“It became a labor of love on our part,” says Carey Schafer, vice president of engineering for CDGi. “Our 3D artists have done great work, but taking something to that degree was a totally different dynamic. We took some still shots from the movie and drew individual buildings based on the movie in a 3D world. Then we created the sky behind it. We had to build two supercomputers to crunch the image and get through it—and we used a shared array with eight more computers to go through it. We learned a lot [about] what goes into something like this.”
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates