DEATH STAR DESTRUCTION PLAN
STAR WARS, 1977
Computer animation artist Larry Cuba got the assignment to create the briefing room Death Star attack plan for Star Wars: A New Hope (1977/1997).
Given the era you might assume it was handanimated, but Cuba worked off matte paintings and model pieces of the Death Star surface to create a digital model on a system called GRASS (Graphics Symbiosis System), a programming language created to script 2D vector graphics animations. The sequences were then back projected onto a black screen on the briefing room set.
Prior to the Lucasfilm gig, Cuba had produced several computer-animated short films, beating Pixar to the punch by decades. Watch ‘Making of the Computer Graphics for Star Wars (Episode IV)’ on Youtube for the full story (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymesw00n3ac).
Nerd trivia; credited under ‘Computer Animation and Graphic Displays’ alongside Cuba’s name is one Dan O’bannon, a titanic name in sci-fi as a writer and sometime actor.