Episode I

The Phantom Menace
  The Virtual Edition
Episode II
Attack of the Clones
  The Virtual Edition
Episode III
Revenge of the Sith
  The Fans' Virtual Edition
  The Spies' Virtual Edition
  The Virtual Edition
Episode VII
Plague of Doom
  The Virtual Edition
Episode VIII
The Darkness Within
  The Virtual Edition
Episode IX
Duel of the Fates
  The Virtual Edition
Episode X
The Riddle of the Pirates
  The Virtual Edition
The VE Encyclopedia
| Timeline | Characters | Locations |
| Organisations | Terminology |
OPEN    Work in progress
by Nathaniel Reed,  9/2020

Map of the Star Wars
  The Virtual Map
by Nathaniel Reed,  9/2005 | 12/2016 | 06/2018 | 12/2019

Floorplan of the
Millennium Falcon
  The Virtual Floorplan
of the Millennium Falcon
by Nathaniel Reed,   07/2018

The Prophecy
And in time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as : THE SON OF THE SUN.
And he shall bring Balance to the Force.
"Journal of the Whills, 3:12"
Welcome to
Nathaniel Reed's
:: An ongoing episodic story of fan-fic set after Episode VI Return of the Jedi, and inspired by George Lucas' historical draft concepts ::
Five episodes of 'THE ACOLYTE' !
30th June 2024
Five of the eight episodes of 'THE ACOLYTE' have been released in the month of June, and not without a certain amount of controversy ! It seems there has been strong reaction to a perceived "gay agenda" since the show's creator, Leslye Headland, is gay. However, any possibly deliberate themes of homosexuality primarily reside in a matriarchal community of 'witches'... and even then, on the face of it, nothing has so far been shown to explicitly present a gender or sexual identity, other than this social structure that is simply absent of men.

The series, set about 100 years before the events of The Phantom Menace, opened with a double episode premiere, introducing Mae as a vengeful antagonist seeking revenge against four Jedi Masters with the aim of impressing her Dark Side Master. Being wholly original material, I found it fresh and exciting, though some in the fan community have struggled with the quality of the dialogue, as well as the drip-feed mystery-puzzle nature of the show. We are introduced to Mae's lookalike, Osha, who is soon revealed to be a long-lost identical twin sister, and who was briefly a Jedi padawan to the show's lead Jedi, Master Sol. Two Master Jedi, Indara and Torbin, are successfully dispatched by Mae, with the latter Jedi appearing to show remorse and acceptance of his fate. Intriguingly, Mae is aided by a rogue trader, named Qimir, acting as scout and procuror of resources, who travels with her in search of the third Jedi. There is a moment when Mae and Osha directly see that each other are alive, and this changes the stakes for them individually.

The third episode provided some of the much-needed backstory as a flashback to sixteen years earlier, revealing how the four Jedi, including Master Sol, intervened with the Witches' community to test Mae and Osha for Force potential. An apparent sense of angry betrayal resulted in a fire that killed all the coven except Osha, who, saved by Sol, was taken back to Coruscant to become a padawan. Mae, who is implied to have started the inferno, is seen safe and well after the fire.

The fourth and fifth episodes followed the heroes attempting to intercept Mae from assassinating the third Jedi Master, a Wookiee named Kelnacca on the jungle planet of Khofar. Mae, having now seen her sister and Master Sol, finds herself doubting her commitment and purpose to her Dark Master, while her scout, Qimir, encourages her to continue. Mae declares her intention to be independent of her Master, and flees from Qimir, making her way to Master Kelnacca's hidden abode. However, she not only finds the Wookiee Jedi slain by a fresh lightsabre cut, but Sol and his party of Jedi also arrive suspecting the worst ; and then Mae's Dark Master also arrives, and duels with the Jedi, killing most of them ! The Dark Master is revealed to be none other than Qimir, who is disappointed to confirm Mae's lack of loyalty. Master Sol and Osha utilise indigenous creatures to attack Qimir and carry him away. Sol is briefly knocked unconscious by Mae with a stun-blaster, so is unaware of a spat between the sisters with Osha coming off worse, and being knocked out. Mae takes this opportunity to steal Osha's outer uniform and cut her own hair, and then return to a recovering Sol to follow him back to the Jedi ship ; meanwhile, Qimir finds an unconscious Osha, and, cognisant of her identity, appears to care for her.

While there have been some minor criticisms on my part, overall I have been really impressed with this new show. I have not been bothered by the at-times slow pace or the deliberate mystery-thriller structure peeling away layers of information - even when it appears to 'hurt' the flow or the logic of the show, favouring 'ignorance' of missed opportunity to protect a revelation later. There have possibly been some poor directorial choices with the visual blocking of action. Some simplistic and 'clunky' dialogue has been somewhat unfortunate, though presumably the creators have an eye on the pacing and the runtime. The world-building has been interesting, though perhaps not as outlandish as it could have been. The duelling scenes have been fantastic ! I am looking forward to the final episodes, and wondering what seeds may be sown to accommodate a second series ?!
A fascinating technical essay popped up recently on Facebook, detailing the work that went into making the CG Tarkin for Rogue One :

Hi, I was the animation supervisor on Rogue One, and as such I was intimately involved with the creation of Tarkin.

I’ve decided to chime in for one purpose only, to clarify the process we used. I have no interest in trying to convince anyone to like the results more than they do, or to argue with anyone about how “real” our work looked in the film. Again, I just want to clarify our process for informational purposes.

The broad plan was to hire an actor, film them on set in costume, and just replace the head with a CG Tarkin head, leaving the real body in the scene. The actor on set would be wearing a helmet with small cameras mounted to it, to record their facial performance (similar to what you’ve seen in the behind the scenes footage from Avatar, or Planet of the Apes).

That’s what we did, excepting that in about 30% of the shots, we opted for full replacement (head and body) with CG, because for certain shots it just made more sense.

Guy Henry was cast because he’s a terrific actor, and had the bearing and vocal quality we were looking for. It was helpful that he also had a certain physical resemblance (high cheekbones, etc), though that was not essential, given that the plan was to completely replace his head with our CG Tarkin. That said, when remapping the facial expressions of one person onto another (Henry to Cushing), the more similar they are, the easier it’s going to be.

The intention was never for Guy to do either a vocal, or physical “impression” of Peter Cushing, but rather to give us a performance that “felt” like Tarkin, both physically and vocally. So we never asked for, or expected a spot on vocal match, or for Guy to smirk, etc, like Cushing.

We didn’t do any modulation or any other audio tricks with Henry’s voice. We didn’t compare waveforms with Cushing audio, talk to his old manager, or any of that other stuff mentioned elsewhere in this thread. We just used Guy Henry’s voice. I’m sure Guy watched the Tarkin scenes from ANH endlessly, and did his best to find a tone and delivery that felt right.

Guy didn’t wear any prosthetics or makeup as part of the process, with the exception of the dots that help us track his facial movement. Someone in this thread talked about “makeup, cosmetics, physical altering”. No. Again, we just put dots on Guy’s face to track it’s movement, that’s all.

Guy was filmed on set, in the costume. The movement of the dots on his face, and his voice were recorded simultaneously during filming. I mention this, because some VFX companies prefer a method where Facial Capture is done separately, on a specialized stage at a later time. We prefer to capture an actor’s performance all at once (voice, body, face) whenever possible.

We also scanned Guy Henry on the ICT Light Stage, to give us a high resolution CG model of Guy Henry, and to capture his skin texture. Now why would we need a CG Guy Henry?

We needed it for a few reasons: One is that once we’ve tracked the motion of the dots on his face in a given piece of performance, rather than immediately applying that motion data to the CG Tarkin, we instead apply it first to the CG Guy Henry. This give us an apples to apples comparison to see if we’ve captured and processed the facial performance accurately. When we’re satisfied that we have, we then apply it to Tarkin.

Another reason, is that having the lighting data that is captured with Guy Henry on the Light Stage, gives us a sort of “ground truth” that we can compare our CG Tarkin to, to see if his skin is reacting to light realistically. Also, because there are many things about the fine details of Guy Henry’s skin that are appropriate for Tarkin’s skin (general tone, pores, etc), we can use the Guy Henry textures as a way to get a leg up on the Tarkin skin textures, rather than starting from zero.

Ok, so we’ve hired an actor, and shot them on location. We’ve built a CG copy of that actor in order to be able to check out facial capture data to see that it’s accurate, and to give us a “ground truth” for the skin texture and lighting.

Now we (obviously) have to build a CG Tarkin.

I noticed some comments in another answer in this thread about his mouth “not being aligned to his chin”, or the ears being “too long”. Again, I’m not here to argue the merits of our work, but I think it’s useful to point out that if you assembled hundreds of photographs of Peter Cushing (as we did), you would find that he can look vastly different from one photograph to another, depending on his expression, the lighting, the makeup, the focal length of the lens, the year the photo was taken, etc etc. So comparing a single frame of our Tarkin to a single photo of Cushing is not a particularly valid way to troubleshoot whatever issues there may be.

Luckily, we didn’t have to work from just photos. We had in our possession a life casting of Peter Cushing’s face. It was made not long after New Hope, so it was very accurate in terms of Cushing’s age, etc. Of course we know that sometimes the process of taking a life cast can slightly distort the face of the subject (the weight of the casting material can pull down on the skin), so we were mindful of that. That casting was a terrific starting point for us, and gave us very accurate information.

Starting from there, a very accurate CG model of Tarkin was created. As well, highly detailed textures, with pore detail, age spots, veins, etc etc. The CG hair groom was challenging, as the styling on Cushing for that role was a bit eccentric.

So taking one shot from the film as an example, let’s say a medium close up:

We track the movement of Guy’s head through space, so we can move the CG Tarkin head in the same way.

We track the dot motion on Guy’s face to extract his facial performance. We apply that motion to the CG Guy Henry, and if we’re happy with how it looks, we apply it to the CG Tarkin. By the way, someone in this thread theorized that perhaps the CG Tarkin was missing “micro expressions”. While we are always trying to increase the accuracy, and detail of our Facial Capture system, I have to say that even now, we are capturing very fine detail, including very tiny, barely perceptible micro movements. We are familiar with Paul Ekman’s work, and the importance of Micro Expressions, and have tried hard to be sure that level of fidelity exists in our work. If it was happening on Guy Henry’s face, it was happening on Tarkin’s face.

Now we have the real Guy Henry body, with the CG Tarkin head. We paint out any bits of Henry’s head that Tarkin doesn’t cover up.

We make adjustments to the facial performance to make it feel more “Tarkin”, since (unsurprisingly), Guy Henry doesn’t use his facial muscles the same way that Peter Cushing did. Guy doesn’t smile like Cushing, doesn’t form phonemes like Cushing, etc. So we have to do a sort of “motion likeness” pass. This is done by our animators, using a very light touch. Note: the point is NOT to change the acting choices made by Guy Henry, it’s just to adjust things so that when Guy chooses to smile, it looks like a Tarkin smile, not like a Guy Henry smile. Of course in doing so, we have to be very careful to maintain exactly what sort of smile it is. We don’t want to transform a mocking, insincere smile into a genuine, warm smile.

The Tarkin head with final facial performance is lit to match the lighting in the footage, and rendered.

The rendered CG Tarkin head is composited onto the real Guy Henry body.

There are of course many many steps to each one of the steps I’ve outlined above. Each one of these steps encompasses the highly skilled work of many many very talented artists and technicians.

So again, like it, don’t like it, that’s none of my business. I just wanted to get the facts out there, in terms of our process, because there was some inaccurate information being posted.

As I did with the progression of the Virtual Edition Episode X, I will post below sections of the prose for Episode XI as I draft it....

The galaxy’s capital world Coruscant had many urban levels smothering what little was left of its original and natural topography. The Upper, Mid, and Lower levels each comprised a myriad of sub levels ; from the sky-accessing traders, judiciary, and politicos, to the permanently artificially-lit underworld, reached through vast ventilation shafts, of criminals and lowlives. As provision supply vessels descended so did the inhabitants’ health and outlook, resulting in paler complexions and gangly physiques that moved jerkily for lack of nutrition. The lowest levels were reduced to something akin to myth, referenced but never visited, conjured with imaginative illustrations. This was the cesspit of leaking sewers and sparking power conduits and humming generators, the only semi-sentient life-form being the fungal growths of fur and slime, whose existence and movement was measured in centuries.

The multitude of Mid Levels was the destination for the Solo twins and their companion, the young Benji Skywalker.

The two SAPs swooped down to a dimly-lit platform jutting out from the side of a building. As the hovercraft settled, Benji glanced upwards. Above was the base of a huge ventilation shaft, which opened out into a vast subterranean chamber that belied the structural engineering required to somehow support the cityscape, the roots of which continued over their heads. It was night-time when they had slipped away from the Jedi Temple roof, so all that he could discern through the shaft to the sky above was a narrow crescent revealing the apparent star light of air traffic in motion.

Muted light was provided by wall lamps dotted at intervals around the vast underground chamber, and by hover-lamps that hung with proximity alarms blinking red for the passing transports and cargo ferries.

The Solo children parked their single aerial platforms next to some hover-bikes and two speeders, being supervised by an R4 droid and two humanoid droids, and then led Benji along the deck and around the corner.

They came to a double door twice their height. Below them was a huge open space leading to a hangar bay. The building, Gana explained to his young cousin, had been a storage silo ; it had deteriorated to the extent that its storage purpose was no longer feasible, so, after some time derelict, it had found new owners keen to utilise its space.

“New owners ?” enquired the seven year old.

“Subter-racers !” grinned Gana.

“Full throttle racing down in these mid levels !” clarified Corsa, already sharing her brother’s excitement.

Benji’s eyes widened. He had to admit, fast racing was adrenaline pumping, even for a Jedi. He knew his dad had raced the desert canyons of Tatooine, even if he’d had the edge on it through the Force without knowing it !

Gana reached up and pressed a call button beside the door.

A square hatch opened above and a rod popped out with a box at its end. A bright light from the unit washed down over the young teenager. To the side of the door, a second hatch also flipped open and a sphere was pushed out. This aimed a linear blue light at Gana which scanned him up and down. A third hatch to the left of the door and larger now opened and out walked a scowling creature less than half a metre in height. It folded its arms, glanced up at Gana and his companions, scowled even more and pointed to Benji accusingly. It’s short appearance belied the fact that it looked like it could spring into bloodied aggression at any moment.

“He’s with us,” answered Corsa hurriedly.

The bundle of tightened energy nodded its chin, and then flicked it towards the door.

“Th-thanks !” muttered Gana gratefully.

The creature, arms still folded, turned on its heel and disappeared back into its hatch, as did the two mechanical security appendages.

The double door creaked and clanked, and then rumbled open.

The three children stepped inside, and then the doors slid shut.

Just beyond them on the platform, the faint ghostly apparition of Leia Solo, arms also folded, pursed her lips in contemplation.

Inside, Benji found himself in a corridor lit with sickly yellow light. He followed his cousins to a set of stairs which they ascended. They came to a booth window in the wall in which sat a long-haired blue-skinned Rodian. She garbled at them.

Gana dug into his pocket, and pushed three coins across the counter. The Rodian’s sucker-tipped long fingers slid forward, covered the coins, and withdrew. She then tipped her head in the direction of the spectators’ gallery.

Gana led the way through to an open auditorium which housed giant screens and overlooked the main storage bay : various racer craft were lined up with personnel working feverishly over them ; on the opposite side more bay doors were open revealing workshops for pit stops. To their right was the vast doorway that opened out to the subterranean chamber in which they had first arrived, and to their left was another large doorway, but smaller than its counterpart, that revealed more of the chamber on the far side.

Hov-droids in the form of chunky datapads floated nearby. These allowed the patrons to not only bet but to also order refreshments. Corsa grabbed one and pulled it over, and the three huddled around it.

“You’re not getting to place a bet, are you ??” asked Benji incredulously of his older cousins.

“Nah,” muttered Corsa, “Mum’d kill us !”

“Aren’t you hungry ?” asked Gana, “We’re starving !”

Corsa was flicking through the screen. “Bag of spicy nuts ?”

Gana nodded. “Two !” he amended. “And some sloppy pivva bread.”

He looked up at a large clock on the wall.

“We should have time to go down and see Jonzi !” he said excitedly.

“Oooh, yes,” agreed his sister, “That’d be great !”

“Jonzi ?” asked Benji.

“She’s our favourite racer !” answered Corsa.

Nathaniel Reed, 30th June 2024
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