Kara Swisher

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The Yoda Fountain and Javva the Hutt Coffee: Kara Visits Lucasfilm

Geek Alert: Here’s another on-the-fly little video I made this morning, when I went over to the handsome campus of Lucasfilm on the Presidio in San Francisco, at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. I was there to see the demo that famed director George Lucas will be doing at the D: All Things Digital conference in a few weeks.


After years of bugging Lucasfilm’s Lynne Hale to nab him, we are very excited that the famed movie director and producer will be onstage at the conference (and clips of that interview will be on our site, too).

But the choice of Lucas was not because he is one of the most successful and influential moviemakers of all time. It’s because of his technology chops–his early combination of cutting-edge technology and filmmaking, along with mythic storytelling, have been groundbreaking. We hope to really delve into where he thinks digital video is going in all its forms.

From the demo I saw–about which I can say nothing until he shows it on the D stage–Lucas will push the envelope even further in a variety of genres (all I can say is via some amazing new breakthroughs in computer technology, Indiana Jones is really in big trouble now).

After the demo, I got a tour around Lucasfilm’s new home, a facility called the Letterman Digital Arts Center on a 23-acre campus overlooking the San Francisco Bay. I was not looking at the view, but at the cool array of movie and tech memorabilia scattered all over the place, which caused me to say “Wow” a few too many times. (Here is a link to one I did from the Cable Show in Las Vegas earlier in the week, where I said “Ahhhh” a lot more than I needed to.)

Lucas started his legendary career in 1971, with San Francisco-based American Zoetrope and longtime friend Francis Ford Coppola as executive producer, transforming a student film into his first feature, “THX-1138.” That was followed in 1973 by the low-budget but giant hit “American Graffiti.”

In his third outing, Lucas offered the world “Star Wars,” and nerds have never recovered. The huge sci-fi hit garnered a clutch of Oscars, spawned a genre and many sequels, some better than others. He recently said there are more to come.

He also later created the classic adventurer Indiana Jones and co-wrote and executive-produced the successful series “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which got him another bunch of Oscars. A fourth sequel is coming next summer. (Lucas also made “Howard the Duck,” but we’re going to ignore that.)

Lucas has also created a lot of television and is now working on the creation of “Clone Wars,” the first computer-generated animated television series from Lucasfilm Animation.

All of his entertainment work inspired Lucas to create his own visual-effects company, Industrial Light & Magic, which is the industry leader, delivering such movie creations as the scary dinosaurs of “Jurassic Park,” the cool magic of the “Harry Potter” films and the icky-looking pirates in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.

His Skywalker Sound is also one of the best regarded in the business of crafting of a film’s soundtrack and post-production editing. And Lucasfilm also includes LucasArts, a video-game company, and Lucas Licensing, which manages the creation of all that “Star Wars” merchandise.

(You adult owners of light sabers know who you are.)

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