One of the grooviest effects sequences in Star Wars is during the rebel pilots’ briefing that that lays out the attack plan on the Death Star. We see for the first time exactly what information R2-D2 was carrying inside him. Through groundbreaking use of computer effects, the sequence quickly offers expository information, while effectively setting up the danger our rebel pilots will soon be in. It’s a great storytelling moment.
This video, which has been on YouTube for two years but for some reason making the rounds now, explains how the graphics were created. The narrator and man behind the magic is Larry Cuba of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL!) at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The narration can be painfully dull, but the video is fairly short and it’s incredibly fascinating to see how the sequence came together. Thirty-plus years later, it still looks cool.