Producer Rick McCallum explains how a videogame helped shape the film's pod race

By Gary Eng Walk
May 21, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • Movie

When fans boot up ”Star Wars: Episode I Racer” — one of two ”Phantom Menace” videogames that just came out this week — they’ll assume the breakneck game (based on Anakin Skywalker’s memorable pod race in the film) would not have existed if not for the blockbuster movie on which it’s based. That’s true. But in a unique way, the videogame actually influenced the movie as well. As George Lucas was making the film, his game division, LucasArts, was busy at work on the videogames. ”We had a problem with the cables that were going from the engines to the pod,” recalls Rick McCallum, the film’s producer, ”so we got everyone over from Industrial Light and Magic (Lucas’ digital-effects company) to take a look at how they achieved some of the actual dynamic movement of the pods in the videogame — something that up until that point had eluded us. It was a fantastic experience working with a game company because the programmers come from a totally different perspective.”

Ironically, that perspective didn’t involve much high-tech wizardry. In fact it was doggone basic: ”We were trying to figure out the dynamics between the two engines and the pod,” LucasArts president Jack Sorensen recalls, ”and the way our programmer did it was by Rollerblading with his two dogs pulling him on leashes. From that he would model the physics and develop the first working prototype of the game.” There you have it: the dogs of ”Wars.”

  • Movie
  • PG
  • 134 minutes
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