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New Star Wars Display Brings the Empire to


As part of Star Wars’ March to May 4th campaign, Lucasfilm’s visual-effects house, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), created a five-minute sequence of original VFX shots that were projected on the Empire State Building’s 1930 art deco façade last month. Using projectors provided by Panasonic North America, the larger-than-life showcase featured X-wing Starfighters racing up the building, an encounter with a probe droid and Han Solo’s iconic carbonite slab. Show Imaging was responsible for the AV set-up, according to AV Magazine. 

 “What may look good as a composition and a scene that plays out in a movie theater or on a regular TV screen may not necessarily directly translate in the same way, to work well, once projected onto the facade of a building,” Khatsho Orfali, ILM’s Visual Effects Supervisor who led the four-month project, told “It’s a very unique canvas.” 

Orfali worked with Lucasfilm Video Production, including senior editor Jeff Pickett, in developing a framework and selecting scenes for the light show. The team had to decide where ILM would inject new VFX shots that leverage the massive vertical space. “Once we got selects from those frames, we went into shot production and got to where we’re at today,” Orfali told After the show was finished, creative agency SUPERBIEN adapted the imagery to filter through 46 projectors and display properly. Lucasfilm’s sound design and mixing firm, Skywalker Sound, handled the audio, the website reported.  

Though a run-through would have spoiled the surprise, Orfali and his team did visit the building for a final test prior to the official light show, using other imagery to keep their work a secret, according to multiple sources. 

Star Wars’ takeover of the iconic building doesn’t stop there. Interactive photo moments highlight new Star Wars merchandise in window and observatory deck displays. On the 86th Floor Observatory, fans can pose with a life-size Funko POP! Darth Vader figure. The LEGO Group is featuring a museum-quality display of Star Wars villains built from LEGO bricks, including six-foot tall recreations of Darth Vader and Darth Maul on the 80th floor. The building’s Fifth Avenue Lobby windows feature a special Star Wars display that depicts imagery of Darth Vader, Darth Maul and stormtroopers amid an array of Star Wars merchandise. And the first floor will house photo backdrops of iconic scenes inspired by the films for Instagrammable moments.  

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