Facebook Finally Delivers On the VRML Dream With Immersive Star Wars Video 58

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has launched its 360-degree video feature, with an eye to virtual reality and next year's release of the Oculus Rift. Among the showcase videos is a specially rendered 'fly-through' of a scene from new Star Wars movie 'The Force Awakens', allowing the viewer to pan laterally and horizontally as the movie progresses. This kind of immersive video was made possible with Apple's QuickTime VR in the 1990s, but was hampered by the same technological bottlenecks of the period as VRML.
Star Wars Prequels

The Force Awakens With Devon's $28,500 Star Wars Limited Edition Watch 112

MojoKid writes: If the Force is strong in your bank account and you're looking for a new timepiece, luxury design firm Devon Works has come up with a limited edition watch that's perhaps more advanced than the Death Star. It's the new "Star Wars by Devon" co-branded watch with a patented system of interwoven "Time Belts" and hybrid electro-mechanical power. The watch is a celebration of Devon's fifth anniversary. It combines glass-reinforced nylon belts (same as used in the gauges on the original 747 aircraft) with multiple high-tech optical recognition cells, micro-step motors, and no less than 313 electrical contacts. Materials used in the construction of the Star Wars timepiece are sourced from an aerospace company located in California. Keeping true to the Star Wars franchise now owned by Disney, the watch incorporates elements of Darth Vader and the TIE Fighter. Only 500 of these watches are being made. If you want one of these timepieces, you'll need a $2,500 down payment towards its $28,500 retail price.
Star Wars Prequels

Death Star Science: The Physics Of Destroying An Earth-Sized Planet 173

StartsWithABang writes: The ability to destroy an Alderaan-like (or, ahem, Earth-like) planet has long been the dream of slashdotters everywhere. But generating the power necessary to unbind a planet — some 2.24 x 10^32 Joules — is simply impossible on board an object only the size of a small moon. But if, instead, you could house a 1-2 trillion ton asteroid (about 5-7 km across) made of antimatter and deliver it to the planet's core, Einstein's E=mc^2 ensures that the planet will be destroyed in seconds.

J.J. Abrams On "Star Wars" Cast's Racial and Sexual Diversity 504

Yesterday at Comic-Con, director J.J. Abrams held forth on the racial and sexual diversity of the actors portraying the characters of the Star Wars franchise. From CNET's article: For Star Wars, it's a complex debate. The franchise has included prominent and strong female characters, like Princess Leia, as well as central characters played by black actors, such as Cloud City administrator Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, and Jedi Mace Windu, played by Samuel L. Jackson. On the other hand, Jar Jar Binks, a computer-generated alien in 1999's "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace," drew fire from some critics, who said he called to mind demeaning black film characters such as those played by Stepin Fetchit in the 1930s. (Not to mention other cultural stereotypes that pop up in Episodes I, II, and III.)
Star Wars Prequels

Han Solo To Get His Own Star Wars Movie Prequel 227

New submitter alaskana writes: According to Starwars.com, Han Solo will be getting his own movie prequel. The film will purportedly tell the story of a young Han Solo and how he came to be the wily smuggler that shows up in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. The film is set to be directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (of The Lego Movie fame) and written by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan. Get your popcorn and tickets ready, as the movie is set to debut May 25, 2018.
Star Wars Prequels

Stormtrooper Arrested 535

Kexel writes: Nope, not an April Fools joke. A forty-year-old man in Massachusetts bought a Stormtrooper outfit, and then walked through a neighborhood near a school to show his friends. The principal saw his fake blaster and called 911. The man was then arrested and charged with disturbing a school and loitering. A police spokesman said the man "used bad judgment." I guess this shows you what not to do when geeking out on Star Wars.
Star Wars Prequels

Learning About Constitutional Law With Star Wars 121

An anonymous reader writes: In an upcoming paper (PDF) for the Michigan Law Review, scholar Cass Sunstein draws on Star Wars to make a couple key points about how constitutional law evolves. He writes, "Human beings often see coherence and planned design when neither exists. This is so in movies, literature, history, economics, and psychoanalysis—and constitutional law. Contrary to the repeated claims of George Lucas, its principal author, the Star Wars series was hardly planned in advance; it involved a great deal of improvisation and surprise, even to Lucas himself. Serendipity and happenstance, sometimes in the forms of eruptions of new thinking, play a pervasive and overlooked role in the creative imagination, certainly in single-authored works, and even more in multi-authored ones extending over time. ... The misdescription appears to respond to a serious human need for sense-making and pattern-finding, but it is a significant obstacle to understanding and critical reflection. Whether Jedi or Sith, many authors of constitutional law are a lot like the author of Star Wars, disguising the essential nature of their own creative processes."
Star Wars Prequels

Rediscovered Lucas-Commissioned Short "Black Angel" Released On YouTube 121

eldavojohn writes: Youtube now offers Black Angel, a short film shown in UK theaters before ESB. What was once thought lost is now found; enjoy. This may be the best half-hour you spend today, even if you must "set your clocks back 34 years," as writer and director Roger Christian advises. (Christian is also known for directing 2000's Battlefield Earth .)
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars Battlefront Game Trailer Is So Realistic It Looks Like Movie Footage 150

MojoKid writes It has been a tremendous week for Star Wars fans. First we got to see Han Solo and Chewbacca make an emotional reappearance in the newest Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer (the second official trailer Disney has put out). Now, Electronic Arts is treating us to a visual smorgasbord of cinema-quality footage showing the forthcoming Star Wars Battlefront game. Battlefront will support to up 40 players divided between the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire, all shooting it out and playing with some of the coolest Star Wars vehicles and weapons around. We're talking jetpacks, AT-AT war machines, AT-STs, TIE Fighters, X-wings, and more. Though the trailer allegedly shows actually "game engine footage," it's questionable whether or not it's actual gameplay or just pre-rendered cut scenes from the game engine. Either way, it's still pretty impressive.
The Military

Tatooine Youth Suspected In Terrorist Attack 179

BeruHadItComing writes: Imperial investigators are still trying to piece together what happened in last week's horrifying terrorist attack on our largest orbital defense station. Over a million loyal citizens, scientists, and medical staff lost their lives in the grisly attack while the station was being put through training exercises near the Yavin system. Billions more are in mourning, while a number of powerful senators have renewed calls to increase defense spending. Initial reports have confirmed Rebel involvement, and officials are making inquiries about a young insurgent from Tatooine with known ties to religious fundamentalists.
Star Wars Prequels

Why More 'Star Wars' Actors Don't Become Stars 360

HughPickens.com writes: When you become an actor, landing a role in a movie as big as Star Wars may seem like a dream come true. But Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit report at The Hollywood Reporter that six movies in, the Star Wars franchise has only spawned one megastar: Harrison Ford, unusual for a series of this magnitude. Neither Ewan McGregor nor Liam Neeson was helped by the franchise and the list of acting careers that never took off is even longer, from original stars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to Jake Lloyd (young Anakin Skywalker) and most notably Hayden Christensen, whose star was on the rise when he nabbed 2002's Attack of the Clones. Even Natalie Portman, who already had a hot career before Episodes I-III, admitted she struggled after the exposure. "Everyone thought I was a horrible actress," says Portman. "I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me."

So what's the problem? "When you sign up for this, you're signing your life away, and you're keeping yourself from any other franchises out there," says an agent whose client is one of the stars of Episode VII. "They will not let you be in another franchise. They're going to be cranking out a new movie every year. These actors never get to read the script before signing on. They don't even know which [subsequent] one they are in. And then they become known for that role, and it's hard to see them in [another] kind of movie." Still, agents keep pursuing roles in the upcoming films even though newcomers can only command a meager $65,000 to $125,000 for Episode VII. "It secures all involved a place in film history," says agent Sarah Fargo, "and guarantees a huge global audience, enhancing an actor's marketability."
Star Wars Prequels

Boeing Patents Star Wars Style Force Field Technology 126

An anonymous reader was one of many to point out that Boeing doesn't want to rely on a sad devotion to an ancient religion to protect aircraft and conjure up the stolen data tapes, but plans on using force fields instead. "Boeing's new patent may let the force be with you even in real life. The aircraft and defense company has taken a cue from science fiction with its plan to develop a Star Wars style force field that would use energy to deflect any potential damage. Just liking the luminescent shields seen in the film, Boeing's "Method and system for shock wave attenuation via electromagnetic arc" could provide a real-life layer of protection from nearby impacts to targets. The downside: It won't protect from direct hits."

Harrison Ford's Plane Crashes On Golf Course 117

First time accepted submitter dark.nebulae writes Harrison Ford's PT-22 crash landed on a golf course in Los Angeles. From the article: "Actor Harrison Ford was hospitalized Thursday afternoon after a single-engine plane he was piloting crashed onto a Venice golf course shortly after takeoff. Just before 4:30 p.m. a family member confirmed to NBC4 that the actor is 'fine' and suffered a few gashes. Aerial footage of the minutes after the crash showed the small single-engine vintage World War II trainer plane crashed on the ground at Penmar Golf Club, and one person being treated by paramedics and being transported to a hospital. Firefighters described his injuries were described as 'moderate.'"
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars-Style "Bionic Hand' Fitted To First Patients 72

schwit1 writes "Three Austrians have replaced injured hands with bionic ones that they can control using nerves and muscles transplanted into their arms from their legs. The three men are the first to undergo what doctors refer to as "bionic reconstruction," which includes a voluntary amputation, the transplantation of nerves and muscles and learning to use faint signals from them to command the hand. Previously, people with bionic hands have primarily controlled them with manual settings."
Star Wars Prequels

Homemade RC Millennium Falcon Is the Drone You've Always Dreamed of Flying 51

MojoKid writes Here's a dose of Rebel goodness to tide you over while you wait for the next Star Wars trailer. A drone enthusiast in France recently graced the web with a few videos of a self-built quadcopter with a shell designed to look like the Millennium Falcon. It's enough to make a Star Wars fan tear up. The drone features a blue thruster light, just like the real Millennium Falcon, and has bright front lights as well. Its creator, who goes by "Oliver C", has some serious modding skills. The shape of the Millennium Falcon presented Oliver with some challenges, but he has the balance more or less handled by the time the spaceship (or quadcopter) takes its first flight outside.
Star Wars Prequels

Disney Turned Down George Lucas's Star Wars Scripts 422

ageoffri writes: When Star Wars fans learned that George Lucas was making the prequels, most were filled with excitement and anticipation. When Episodes 1-3 were actually released, many found them unsatisfying, and became disillusioned with Lucas's writing. Now, it appears Disney felt the same way. Though they bought Lucasfilm and began production on Episode 7, they weren't interested in using the scripts Lucas had already worked on. In an interview, he said, "The ones that I sold to Disney, they came up to the decision that they didn't really want to do those. So they made up their own. So it's not the ones that I originally wrote [on screen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens]." After what happened with the prequels, that may be for the best — but others may worry about Episode 7's plot being entirely in the hands of Disney and JJ Abrams.
Star Wars Prequels

First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released 390

Midnight Thunder writes: The first trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has been released. (YouTube link.) This is the first real opportunity to get a feeling for whether childhood dreams will be crushed or Disney, with the help of JJ Abrams, will be able to breath new life into the story without making it feel like a merchandising excuse.
Star Wars Prequels

'Star Wars: Episode VII' Gets a Name 267

schwit1 writes If you feel a disturbance in the Force, it's millions of voices suddenly crying out the new title of Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens. The reveal comes as the movie finishes its final day of shooting (with many more months of post-production to come.) Although there were still a few days left of shooting, the cast of the J.J. Abrams film already celebrated their wrap party last weekend, following a bumpy few months of principal photography thrown into crisis when Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, broke his leg on set in an accident involving a falling door on the Millennium Falcon.
Star Wars Prequels

Sketches Released of New Star Wars Museum 65

An anonymous reader writes Chicago has some great museums, but none have architecture that excite me as much as the renderings (read "storyboards, not blueprints," but they're also called "plans," which I hope means they're pretty accurate) of George Lucas's Star Wars museum. Technically, it's the "George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art," but we know what he means, and these pictures only make the point clearer. Says the Associated Press story, "The Beijing-based principal designer, Ma Yansong of MAD Architects, released the first sketches Tuesday. The seven-story museum will be located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place on Lake Michigan. It's expected to cost about $400 million. Ma has said it's the most important project of his career to date."
Star Wars Prequels

Jedi-ism Becomes a Serious Religion 268

An anonymous reader writes: 390,127 Brits declared their religion as Jediism in their last census — many as a joke, but some are quite serious, the BBC reports. Cambridge University Divinity Faculty researcher Beth Singler estimates at least 2,000 of them are "genuine," around the same number as the Church of Scientology. The U.K. Church of Jediism has 200,000 members worldwide. Their belief system has expanded well beyond the Star Wars universe to include tenets from Taoism, Buddhism, Catholicism and Samurai. Former priest, psychotherapist and writer Mark Vernon finds real power in the Jedi story: "The reason it's so powerful and universal is that we have to find ourselves. It's by losing ourselves and identifying with something greater like the Jedi myth that we find a fuller life."