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Star Wars brings viewers a new galaxy of feature films

Photo caption: Cameras – and the skills needed to operate them – are becoming increasingly more sophisticated.

Perhaps the first movie to bring viewers outside the bounds of their imagination -- and the one that begat all others -- was George Lucas’s Star Wars.  Alliance members created a new world, a whole new universe in fact, on screen.  Make-up, costumes, models, animation and mechanical effects were used in ways never before seen.

Technical innovations enhanced these spectaculars.  The Steadicam allowed new freedom and flexibility in shots, linking as it does the mobility of hand-held cameras with the smoothness of a camera mounted on a dolly.  The Dolby noise-reduction process improved sound quality dramatically.  Star Wars is recognized as the film that brought a second revolution in sound to the movies.  The film used Dolby Stereo Variable Area soundtrack throughout its entirety.  This system allows 35mm prints to have four-track stereophonic optical soundtracks that had great clarity and range.

Star Wars inaugurated the era of the blockbusters - movies that brought in more than $100 million at the box office.  It was billed as “Episode IV,” a clear signal that there was more to come, either as sequels or prequels.

The movies of Director Steven Spielberg likewise employed spectacular special effects (E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind) that required a whole new generation of Alliance members, now working at Industrial Light and Magic in Northern California, to create box-office magic.

Some of the developments of the skilled technicians working at Industrial Light and Magic include THX Sound, a system of standards for the quality and balance of sound in theaters, Sound-Droid, a digital sound-editing system, and Edit-Droid, a computerized editing station that allows movies to be edited on video.