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R2-D2 Creator Grant McCune Dead At 67

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the deedle-boop-tweet dept.

Movies 37

CBC reports on sad news for Star Wars fans: "Grant McCune, a special effects artist who earned an Oscar for his work on the 1977 film Star Wars, has died. He was 67. McCune died Monday at his home in Hidden Hills, Calif., of pancreatic cancer. McCune created scenes with miniatures, models and special effects for dozens of movies, including Spaceballs, Ghostbusters II and 2008's Rambo. He began in special effects in 1975 when he and friend Bill Shourt were hired to make a giant white shark model for Steven Spielberg's Jaws. They got no credit for the film, but McCune caught the eye of the film community and he became chief model maker for Star Wars, where he created R2-D2 and many of the creatures that populate the film."

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Tag 'slownewsday' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725416)

Please tag this article 'slownewsday' -- we don't want to encourage this kind of crap article.

Re:Tag 'slownewsday' (4, Interesting)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725540)

Actually, he was quite the inventor. You should look up just how he pieced R2D2 together. It's not as trivial as it seems. For instance, Artoo's "head" is not a true dome. It is actually a "flattened" dome which proved quite hard to turn on a lathe. He even had to invent his own technique just to make this part.

So what you're saying is without merit.

Mod parent up! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725594)

I wholeheartedly agree.
 
In other news, here's a YTMND of a goat on a keyboard in space [ytmnd.com] .
 
Cheers!

Re:Mod parent up! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725682)

Better goat reference [youtube.com]

Re:Tag 'slownewsday' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725946)

Fuck you. R2 and the models in the films he worked on have inspired many to get into electronics/robotics/film work etc., even if they didn't know he was the original creator.

This deserves to be on Slashdot.

Re:Tag 'slownewsday' (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726148)

Screw Luke and Anakin. R2 was the real main character.

Re:Tag 'slownewsday' (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726388)

I hated the CGI R2 in the prequals. CGI is good for some things but it can't fully re-create a remote controlled robot with real world physics etc., it just looked wrong, too clean too perfect and the motion seemed too 'cartoony' - I've yet to see a real robot that can move like the CGI R2 did.

Long live real R2 droids.

Re:Tag 'slownewsday' (3, Interesting)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34730380)

That whole sequence is the reason R2 didn't look right. He was put into an absurd situation and expected to come out heroric.

That's not "CGI's" fault, that's what the director approved.

Only thing that can be said (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725420)

"Bleep boop beep boink"

Re:Only thing that can be said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725426)

Beep beep beep beep beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.........

Re:Only thing that can be said (2, Funny)

Shuntros (1059306) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725516)

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

The R2 scream. A proper, and possibly the most impressive R2 noise, IMHO. I have it as my SMS alert. It royally pisses off my work colleagues.

Re:Only thing that can be said (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34729152)

I have it as my SMS alert. It royally pisses off my work colleagues.

It's dicks like you that turn open spaces into hell.

Re:Only thing that can be said (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725534)

"*Ka-chang*...*Blat! Plop!*...*Ka-chumpf*...*bleep bleep bloop gurrrrgle*...*clack, clack, clackHAhahahahahahahahah!*

( Those are the sounds of Luke skywalker removing R2D2's head, taking a shit inside R2D2, Re-attaching R2D2's head, then R2D2 protesting as Luke Skywalker walks away laughing. )

Re:Only thing that can be said (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726170)

Well, in this case, he'd say "woooooooooooo."

mournful beeps (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725456)

mournful beeps

What David Lynch had to say about this man's work. (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725502)

"So George (Lucas) took me upstairs. He showed me Wookies and all kinds of different animals. About this time, my headache got much worse."

I see your upside-down garbage can and raise you a creepy woman with her Gom Jabar.

Re:What David Lynch had to say about this man's wo (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725566)

McClune was obviously working as directed. Lynch just wanted naked chicks in his movies and thats out of the jurisdiction of the effects guy.

Re:What David Lynch had to say about this man's wo (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726172)

Nothing against David Lynch, but as the saying goes, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in his philosophy.

Uncredited in Jaws (1)

kriston (7886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725558)

Weren't they uncredited in the movie Jaws because the robot hardly worked when they wanted it to?

Re:Uncredited in Jaws (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725592)

Weren't they uncredited in the movie Jaws because the robot hardly worked when they wanted it to?

Must have been the inspiration for the Millennium Falcon.

Re:Uncredited in Jaws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725794)

The Jaws robot was clocked doing the Nantucket Run in under 12 parsecs.

Re:Uncredited in Jaws (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725764)

Weren't they uncredited in the movie Jaws because the robot hardly worked when they wanted it to?

Grant didn't build the mechanics. It wasn't his fault. Also it had never been done before so the team underestimated the stress the rig would be under. The only things like this that had been done were done in tanks not out in the open ocean. Spielberg was the one that started the BS about the shark not working. He recently admitted that the film was better because he originally intended to use the shark a lot more which wouldn't have worked as well. The effects crews take the blame never the studios that don't give them enough time or money. Look at it this way you ask an effects artist how much to build a shark that works reliably and they say 10 million so the studio says what can you do for a million then they bitch when there's problems. I used to get asked all the time how much to build a creature suit. I'd say $5,000 to $250,000, it depends what it looks like and what it has to do. It's exactly like saying how much to build a house? You say a 100K then they tell you it has to be 10,000 sq ft with a massive swimming pool and they expect you to stick to the 100K budget. That's what effects artists have to deal with.

ok.. (0)

HelloKitty2 (1585373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725714)

ok.. ?

Re:ok.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34728338)

Having trouble forming an intelligible sentence, kid?

Sad really (1)

bjcopeland (70793) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725762)

I thought I was a fan but I didn't know this guy even existed until he died, but then that is true for 99.999% of everyone else in the world so nvm I am going to crawl back into my hole now.

Re:Sad really (3, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726004)

Don't beat yourself up. One can love a work without knowing its artist(s).

Last time I worked with McCune... (4, Interesting)

Thagg (9904) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725966)

...was on the movie US Marshals. As part of the film, the plane holding the prisoner escapes after a 727 crash. Grant McCune built a 1/3 scale 727 fuselage for the film, it was amazing!

His shop at the time was chock full of every type of model and rig that I could imagine, and several that I couldn't, with his crew of model makers feverishly working on the next projects as ours was finishing up.

At the time he kept his Oscar under a stocking cap on a shelf in his office. Legend has it that he would occasionally pick up the hat to make sure it was still there. I suppose he wanted it close, without it creating a spectacle (as a real Oscar inevitably is)

RIP Grant. Good times...

And nothing of value was lost (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726098)

Fuck George Lucas

Re:And nothing of value was lost (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726168)

I know you Star Wars geeks can be a little obsessed, but wanting to fuck George Lucas? that's going a bit far (far away).

Sad (2)

ohiovr (1859814) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726238)

My Dad died of pancreatic cancer at age 67 same as this fellow. Its a terrible disease I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Now I Really Feel Old (3)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726242)

Say 'goodbye' as he would appreciate -- http://www.r2d2translator.com/ [r2d2translator.com] .

Re:Now I Really Feel Old (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727330)

hahahaha awesome

*sigh* (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726670)

I thought I felt a disturbance in the force...

oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34726690)

Must've had a bad motivator.

See you in the next life! (1)

NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) | more than 3 years ago | (#34728978)

Call me Anakin R2 held data from the Dark Side of the force! Tell you what though Natalie Portman is far more sexy than R2D2 and not gay like C3PO.

My R2D2; Iodine&VitaminD deficiency strike bac (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#34731206)

http://www.righthealth.com/topic/vitamin_d_may_reduce_risk_of_pancreatic_cancer/overview/healthology20 [righthealth.com]
http://www.vitamindwiki.com/tiki-index.php?page=Iodine+-+how+much+is+needed+July+2010 [vitamindwiki.com]
http://www.lmreview.com/articles/view/iodine-the-next-vitamin-d-part-I/ [lmreview.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPiR9VcuVWw [youtube.com]

The above links are on how others may be able to help prevent such cancers to some extent, especially us indoor techy types who may not be that into good nutrition or sunshine.

Just before Star Wars came out, I had developed my own R2-D2 shaped robot, inspired in part by a commercial cylindrical vacuum with a dome top my family had. My family had given that vacuum my oldest sister when they got a new one, and I had to ask her for it (and she was nice enough to give it to me) and I took out the motor and extended it with a big can (from tar for basement tiles IIRC) in the middle between the base and the dome top. My father (who worked around a machine shop) machined a gripping claw for it and helped with some of the other mechanical aspects like brackets for the two drive motors on either side of it. I did the electronics and some of the mechanical stuff plus the overall design. It won first prize in the Long Island Junior Science Congress (around 1977). I called it a "radioactive material transporter", as I had seen robots at Brookhaven National Labs that did that. I have some pictures of that version somewhere (and it was in local papers). One version had an arm in the front with a gripper and an arm in the back with an electromagnet (I kept changing it around a bit). I used strings with motors and pulleys to pull the arms up and down. The strings would jam now and then.

After Star Wars came out, I had to keep telling people, no, it wasn't inspired by Star Wars. I wondered for a time if Grant McCune might have seen a picture of my robot, but essentially they were both being built at the same time (me for a seventh grade science class starting in 1976, him in California for the movies). There is a picture of a later version on my site, but that one was from after Star Wars had come out (and it only has one arm in the front). See:
    http://www.pdfernhout.net/ [pdfernhout.net]

That one was influenced a bit by Star Wars, as I had put in a modified Radio Shack circuit that was a light-sensitive theramin-like device that let it make squealing noises in various pitches. I think the wheel mechanism there were the same ones I used on the original, as were other parts (stuff was so hard to come by, I cannibalized one project to make the next). They had a rubber band around the big wheels and a drive motor with a pully -- the stretch in the rubber band seemed essential to making it work -- O rings would not work. The wheels came from inline skates my father had made based on "road skates" in Holland. This was before inline skates became a big thing in the USA -- so maybe I cost my Dad a fortune? I remember him deciding I could have the wheels from his prototype with an odd sort of look (a tough choice I see now, as a parent myself, in hindsight that he had to make -- help his son's dream or push forward on his own dream?) The salad bowl on the top in that later version was a gift by that same sister to my parents, and I had kind of taken it over (I wish now we'd all eaten more veggies -- see Dr. Joel Fuhrman -- that sister since died for heart disease and other issues perhaps related to vitamin D deficiency and diet too). The frame for that one was a rolling bar bought by my father at my request for it (although we did use it for a short time as a rolling bar for a party my mother gave before it became dedicated to the robot, sort of to hide the fact we had really bought it to make a robot).

As I say on my site, my robots were very much inspired by the Silent Running drones (Huey, Dewey, and Louie).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Running [wikipedia.org]

I read on Wikipiedia that Grant McCune had been inspired in part by Silent Running in making R2-D2, too.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R2-D2 [wikipedia.org]

I can wonder if Grant McCune had had seen that same vacuum too? :-)

I've since devoted a lot of time to thinking about the implications of robotics and other advanced technology:
    http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]
    http://econfuture.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/robots-jobs-and-our-assumptions/#comment-392 [wordpress.com]
    http://knol.google.com/k/paul-d-fernhout/beyond-a-jobless-recovery#Four_long(2D)term_heterodox_alternatives [google.com]

I'm sorry Grant McCune is gone. I wish I could have met him and shown him pictures of my robots and asked him about that vacuum cleaner thing.

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