Ever since Ewan McGregor first put on those Jedi robes, fans have been in love with his portrayal of the iconic Obi-Wan Kenobi. The last time the character was seen in live-action was in 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. As he had in the previous two Star Wars films, Kenobi remained one of the audience's favorite parts of that trilogy of movies. This was over a decade ago; now, he’s finally back. Since the last time Obi-Wan was on screen, technology has advanced quite a bit.
The biggest example is the use of Stagecraft’s Volume screens, which were made popular thanks to The Mandalorian. Instead of having to utilize green and blue screens everywhere, the massive LED screens can show real-time and life-like backdrops as the production roles of the cameras.
The level of technology is undeniably astounding. While the effects are leagues ahead of what the former prequel trilogy was able to utilize, George Lucas still made plenty of headway, pioneering the way for future filmmakers with his CGI-heavy outings.
While doing press, McGregor ended up revealing how every single line of dialogue in Attack of the Clones had to be replaced, all thanks to Lucas’ eye for technological advancement.
Obi-Wan's Voice Replaced
During the virtual press conference for the upcoming Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, star Ewan McGregor commented on how technology has changed, and that advancements during the prequel era ended up completely ruining all of the dialogue in Attack of the Clones.
McGregor commented that his time on the Disney+ show “felt like a different experience… [because] the technology is so different than what [they] made the original movies on:”
“The technology is so different than when we made the original movies that it felt like a different experience anyway. But I don’t think it was because it's a TV show. The beauty of it being a series is that we’ve got longer to tell the story. But because Deborah [Chow] directed them all, and her singular vision throughout, it did feel like we were just making one movie. And the episodic nature of our series falls really cleverly into the storyline, but it is one driving narrative. I think The Mandalorian feels more episodic, if you like, because it suits that storytelling, and it, of course, has a driving storyline through each season, but ours is like a movie that just happens to be split up into these episodes.”
He went on to note how “[Episode 2] was [his] first experience shooting on digital camera,” which at the time “were like dinosaurs,” with “huge umbilical cords coming out the back of the cameras:”
“Episode 2 was the first—I don’t know if it was the first movie that was shot on digital, but it was my first experience of shooting on digital cameras. And now, it’s so rare to shoot on film, sadly, really. But those cameras were like dinosaurs. They were cutting-edge technology, but compared to what we shoot on now. You know, they had huge umbilical cords coming out the back of the cameras, [you] couldn’t change the lenses. They could change the lenses, but it would take like half an hour. So everything was just shot on a zoom lens. They made a—the two digital cameras, on two techno cranes, literally they just move the cranes and zoomed in and out; that was the new setup.”
The actor detailed how all of those cords “led to this big tent in the corner of the stage that literally hummed,” so much so they “had to ADR [Audio Dialogue Replacement] every single line of Episode 2:”
“The umbilical [cords] led to this big tent in the corner of the stage that literally hummed. It was so noisy. In post-production, they realized that the noise they made was exactly in the frequency of the human voice. So we had to ADR every single line of Episode 2. None of the original dialogue made it through because the cameras were so new, none of the bugs had been worked out yet. So, compared to what we are doing now, it’s night and day, really.”
He made sure to praise George Lucas and how he was “pioneering that technology,” even if the “blue screen [or] green screen… [was] challenging for the actors:”
“But George was like pioneering that technology. He was pioneering sound and image, and—he was pioneering the cameras and the VFX. So, of course, he was wanting to utilize it as much as he could. But for us, it meant that more and more, we were on a blue screen or a green screen. And that’s challenging for the actors for sure.”
The Attack of the Technology
It has been two decades since Attack of the Clones was released, and somehow this information is only just now making its way out there. It almost feels fitting with Ewan McGregor’s much-awaited return that he is able to uncover some long-lost stories from his past work in the franchise.
It is worth noting how ADR is very commonplace in the film industry; it’s a mandatory part of the process, really. However, it’s not often that a project needs to replace its entire collection of dialogue.
Another project known for having to do an insane amount of ADR was Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. In fact, roughly 98% of the dialogue needed to be replaced.
Hopefully, this time around, McGregor’s performance wasn’t drowned out by the noise of advanced technology.
Obi-Wan Kenobi hits Disney+ on May 27.