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Original Star Wars Camera Sells For $625,000

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the that's-a-lot-of-drallish-crowns dept.

Movies 65

An anonymous reader writes "A Panavision PSR 35mm motion picture camera used by George Lucas to film Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope was was sold for $625,000, surpassing all expectations and setting a new world record. The camera package included a Panaspeed motor, matte box, follow focus, a Moy geared head, Italian-made Elemack camera dolly and lens, and two 1000-foot magazines. True Star Wars fans will be delighted to know the camera is still functional and has been completely restored."

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65 comments

There was a lot of carbon scoring on the unit (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38296750)

But they decided to repaint it anyway, since it had seen a lot of action.

A New Hopewas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38296754)

Is that a documentary?

As long as George Lucas didn't buy it... (3, Funny)

MrTrick (673182) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296758)

...coming soon; All new revisions, extra footage, Han Solo shot accidentally!

but what was changed from the original? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38296770)

is it truly the first post?

Psft....Oh yeah, look what I just bought (1)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296772)

My holiday shopping this year is complete! I have the ultra-rare Grunt FB-11426 [starwarsho...pecial.com]

Re:Psft....Oh yeah, look what I just bought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38296818)

Just so you know, the link won't work. Copy and paste is necessary.

What? (1)

cyachallenge (2521604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296774)

Never underestimate how much rich nerds will pay for props while still living in their mom's basement.

Re:What? (2)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38302862)

Panavison rarely sells cameras, and the entire package's market value without the provenance is probably at least a quarter million dollars.

This equipment is just going to get rarer. Don't have the link at the moment, but were you aware that Panavison, Arri and Aaton, the last 35mm camera manufacturers, haven't actually built a new camera in about 18 months? This gear is EOLd and increasingly harder to get a hold of.

It will be resold (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296814)

In an extended version, a digital version, a re-digitized digital version and a Jar Jar Binks version at a later date.

But the biggest money maker.... (2)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38297144)

After all those versions Lucas will release the real money maker: the version where he takes Jar Jar back out.

Re:But the biggest money maker.... (1)

eggstasy (458692) | more than 2 years ago | (#38301368)

I think Jar Jar should be placed in a prominent role in all SW movies, if not as the protagonist.
Luke... I am your father... and Jar Jar is my gay lover.

Vistavision (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38296836)

Didn't they make a big deal out of the fact that it was shot with Vistavision cameras?
Or were those only used by the special-effects unit?

Re:Vistavision (4, Informative)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296948)

Yes, that was for the effects work. All the live action was shot with a Panavision camera, as Panavision has a near-monopoly on Hollywood due to contracts/union deals.

However, because of the demands of the effects work, the only thing accurate enough to shoot 10 passes exactly the same (at the time) was Disney's Vistavision cameras.

Remember that hardly anybody had been doing blue-screen at the time for over a decade. Even 2001 was shot mostly with "in camera" effects work (which is why it's not grainy, you never see matte boxes but to it's detriment, nothing can pass in front of each other, which would have made shooting the battle sequences near impossible).

Re:Vistavision (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38297154)

Now go back to your basement!

Seriously! Confessing Star Wars fans should treated like pedophiles! Mentally sick that need to be chemically castrated to not reproduce.

Well.. ignore that.. both usually don't reproduce but its hard to destroy a light saber themed fleshlights youth.

Re:Vistavision (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38297358)

However, because of the demands of the effects work, the only thing accurate enough to shoot 10 passes exactly the same (at the time) was Disney's Vistavision cameras.

Do you mean Disney's Vistavision cameras *on computer controlled mechanisms*?

I thought that one of the big advances at the time was the computer controlled camera mechanisms, to _do_ the multiple passes.

Re:Vistavision (4, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38298814)

I thought that one of the big advances at the time was the computer controlled camera mechanisms, to _do_ the multiple passes.

The cameras themselves also have to spool the film accurately. Slippage means a bad composite.

Re:Vistavision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38299020)

Remember that hardly anybody had been doing blue-screen at the time for over a decade.

True, although one major exception to this was "The Towering Inferno" in 1974, which had some very impressive blue screen work for its time. The recent DVD / Blu-Ray releases have some great behind-the-scenes info about this, including some unprocessed versions of shots that show the blue screen, compared against the final composite, which actually looks very good in some (but not all) cases. But other than that, you're right; this was all unusual stuff for the time.

Funny other thing about 1977 is that after so much time in Hollywood without much of bluescreen work, both Spielberg and Lucas directed movies that year which required lots of optical compositing, and they kind of stepped on each others toes a bit. Lucas originally wanted to hire Douglas Trumbull for "Star Wars", but he was busy on Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" at the time, and so ended up recommending John Dykstra to supervise the effects work in Star Wars (really great article about the work he did here [theasc.com]).

Re:Vistavision (3, Interesting)

John Bresnahan (638668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38301954)

Paramount, not Disney, first used the VistaVision format.

The advantage of using a larger format, such as VistaVision or 65MM, was the greater detail captured on the larger negative. That allowed the copying required to produce the effects shots to still retain the same quality as the original 35MM non-effect filming

The more stable image was also helpful, but not the primary reason to go with a larger format.

Re:Vistavision (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38302912)

I know of no contract ot union deal that locked Panavision cameras in (I'm a member of IATSE, why does everyone always blame the union?). The real reason was Panavison had a patent to the world's first non-distorting 2.35 CinemaScope lens system, and they made the lens mountings incompatible with anything but Panavison camera bodies.

Re:Vistavision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38305396)

Some corrections to the parent post, from someone who has studied cinematography at great length...

"...as Panavision has a near-monopoly on Hollywood due to contracts/union deals."

I've never heard anything about any contracts, and certainly no union deals requiring Panavision cameras to be used. They just make good cameras. It's a small market, and Panavision (along with a few other companies) has to compete just like everyone else.

"the only thing accurate enough to shoot 10 passes exactly the same (at the time) was Disney's Vistavision cameras."

VistaVision was used for effects work because the negative size is bigger (35mm 8 perf running sideways) than the normal Super 35mm size (4 perf at most, running vertically).

"Even 2001 was shot mostly with "in camera" effects work (which is why it's not grainy, you never see matte boxes..."

A matte box is a device that goes on the front of the camera to hold filters and reduce lens flares.

What? (4, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296846)

It's a freaking camera. A book by it's operator would be more interesting.

Next up, the coffee pot that was used on set during the filming of SW:EPIII

Re:What? (2)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296884)

Yes, it is just a camera, but Panavision cameras have never been cheap, especially with the dollies and the follow focus which has to be custom geared to the dolly's wheel diameter and the lens you're using.

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38297152)

They aren't cheap since Panavision doesn't sell their gear at all (except in very very rare cases). Also, "follow focus geared to the dolly's wheel diameter"?? What? Having been a focus puller for 10 years at one point, I have never seen this done even once - or even considered.

Re:What? (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296944)

Only if it it has Lucas' DNA on it, so I can clone him and then kill him without getting into (too much) trouble.

Re:What? (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38299814)

Lucas DNA! I have a brilliant ida... let's clone him and have a show about the clones growing up as a disfunctional family... let's call that clone wars... oh wait.... oops :)

Re:What? (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38297132)

If the item has a solid record of verifiability, is scarce and famous then the resulting artifact could be a good non-degrading value/money carrier.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38297336)

I think what you mean is "If it isn't fake, it could be a good hedge against inflation".

Re:What? (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38305214)

It's a freaking camera. A book by it's operator would be more interesting.

The camera's operator was a guy named Gil Taylor [imdb.com]. Taylor is famous as a british DP for shooting Dr. Strangelove and the Richard Lester's Beatles films, A Hard Day's Night and HELP!, among other things, but he was a notorious fuddy-duddy ass on the set of Star Wars and was constantly undermining Lucas to the crew. He's had little positive to say about the experience.

He's still alive, at 97, if you wanna shoot him an email :)

Article left out... (2)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296850)

The obvious question is, how much were they when new?

Re:Article left out... (2)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296924)

Panavision doesn't sell their cameras, they operate as a rental house only.

Re:Article left out... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296962)

They didn't build them for nothing. Just because they didn't sell them (although, they apparently sold this one at some point), doesn't mean they didn't cost anything. One could probably figure out a reasonable retail price if they knew the rental fee, expected lifetime, and guessed at PV's profit margin.

Re:Article left out... (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38297324)

Is it a requirement of the rental agreement that they appear in the credits? Of course the camera type has been mentioned in the end credits of most if not all movies for decades.

Re:Article left out... (1)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38306516)

Is it a requirement of the rental agreement that they appear in the credits?

I don't know if it's a requirement as part of the contract, but if it isn't, you can be it's there because Panavision gives them a financial incentive to put it there (or a financial *penalty* if they decided not to put it there).

Ten bucks says Paul Allen bought it (4, Interesting)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38296886)

That guy probably has the best sci-fi cinema collection in the world; TFA doesn't say who bought it, but I bet it's him.

The full-size science fiction museum he opened in Seattle seems to get mediocre reviews, but when I saw a small traveling exhibit of his collection I almost creamed my pants. An original, full Darth Vader suit, Arnold's leather jacket from Terminator, Luke's severed hand model with lightsaber, Dan Akryod's suit and proton pack from Ghostbusters, several Bladerunner costumes, the original witch's hat from the Wizard of Oz, many artifacts from Star Trek and TNG, etc.

Best damn hour of my life.

Re:Ten bucks says Paul Allen bought it (2)

morcego (260031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38297192)

the original witch's hat from the Wizard of Oz

Ok, now THAT is a real jewel, a piece of history. The rest is nice and all, but nowhere in the same league.

Re:Ten bucks says Paul Allen bought it (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38297672)

the original witch's hat from the Wizard of Oz

Ok, now THAT is a real jewel, a piece of history. The rest is nice and all, but nowhere in the same league.

Well, it's not in the same league yet, I guess, but it's all kind of arbitrary. You're making it sound like only ubiquitous appeal plus a certain age qualify something as 'a real jewel'. And if you feel strongly about the age part - not saying for sure that you do, but while I'm thinking - The Wizard of Oz is only 70 years old. You don't think a culturally significant number of people will feel the same way about Star Wars or Bladerunner in the year 2040?

Re:Ten bucks says Paul Allen bought it (1)

raftpeople (844215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38297496)

I'm normally not into this type of stuff (collecting), but I saw a movie at his house once and he had a display with some items from some movies - it was actually kind of fun to see the originals on display. And I liked that it was just a few select items - when I go to museums there is so much stuff the novelty seems to be diminished for each individual item.

Re:Ten bucks says Paul Allen bought it (2)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38297716)

And I liked that it was just a few select items - when I go to museums there is so much stuff the novelty seems to be diminished for each individual item.

Which is why I spent probably 30 minutes of my hour groveling in front of the Darth Vader costume. Seriously, it's fucking terrifying up close, even when you can see the cheesiness of all the 'life-support equipment' being only painted fiberglass.

Re:Ten bucks says Paul Allen bought it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38298096)

We all like sci-fi, but to quote Robin Williams in "Good Morning Vietnam", you're more in need of a blowjob than any white man in history, if looking at Luke's severed hand is the best hour of your life.

Re:Ten bucks says Paul Allen bought it (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38298384)

Best damn hour of my life.

And... now we know why you're single and always will be.

Re:Ten bucks says Paul Allen bought it (1, Flamebait)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38298692)

God damn, talk about showing off.

I mean, an enthusiast of anything might go as far as to dedicate a display case or room in his house. Paul Allen said, "Fuck that!" and decided to ship his collection all over so that other people may enviously stare at it. He's managed to outsource envy.

Re:Ten bucks says Paul Allen bought it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38302362)

much as I dislike the M$ crew, you could also look at it this way...
Maybe he enjoyed it so much he wanted to share...?

Sure being an M$ guy it unlikely, but not impossible.

Yeah but will it blend? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38296938)

FACE!!

What? And Lucas hasn't glued a Digital SLR to it? (1)

bADlOGIN (133391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38297368)

I would have expected he'd fucked up the camera just like he fucked up his movies with "improvements"...

And a 1000ft holds how much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38297918)

By my calculations, a 1000ft magazine holds about 11 minutes worth of film. So having two 1000ft magazines lets you shoot about 20 minutes before having to find a darkroom to reload your magazines.

dom

Re:And a 1000ft holds how much? (1)

catbertscousin (770186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38303682)

That's what the Film Loader is for. I was a Film Loader / Focus Puller for about 4 years and while it's rare to shoot a whole 11 minutes in one shot, you can still go through 1000' pretty quick in 10-30 second shots. So you have a guy who reloads the magazines while you shoot and when you pull a full one off, he's got a new one ready to go. And another half-dozen loaded and waiting. It's really hard to shoot with only 2 magazines if you're doing any kind of serious filming, but a lot of camera packs sell with 2 and you buy (or rent) more when you're getting the other lenses and stuff you need.

Fandom, and all that (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38300268)

I'm amazed what fans will pay for.

A few years ago, I was over at Kerner Optical, the Lucasfilm spinoff for practical effects, and they were showing off an early 3D camera with variable separation between the lenses. (Watching that, wearing shutter glasses and looking at a monitor, while someone played with the separation, produces weird feelings in your eyes.)

Since we were in the camera shop, they showed us some of the stuff they had around, including the first 35mm movie camera with a carbon-fiber case. They built that in-house, for scenes where the camera was going to be banged around. It had been used for some Star Wars job and many times since. They just viewed it as a working tool, not a collectable. It was a film camera, so it's probably been retired by now.

I'll say one thing for Lucas's operation. People stay there a long time. Most of the people at Kerner had been there for decades. One guy with five years on the job said he was still the new guy.

Painful website (1)

lucm (889690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38300968)

The website linked to this story is horrible, it has so much ads, it looks like a placemat in a cheap pizzeria. It will take me a while to regain my moral equilibrium after seeing that eye sore.

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