There Might Well Be A CG Yoda On The Phantom Menace Blu-Ray, But He Isn't New

The internet continues telling George Lucas he's wrong to try and make his personal works of art the way he wants them, and that he has no right to hold back products that he doesn't wish to sell. It's like there's an army of people who think they're somehow entitled by birthright to pristine copies of first-edit Star Wars films.

Today's big sticking point has been the rumour of changes to the films as they will appear on the upcoming Blu-ray set.

As I said last night, two ILM FX guys told me personally that the films had not been tinkered with in any big way, just reframed, colour corrected, given a new sound mix and perfected in terms of FX compositing and the like. Since I ran that report, a video of a CG Yoda from the Phantom Menace has been uploaded and started doing the rounds. Seems to be a clash, right? Wasn't Yoda always a puppet in that film?

Well, not always. First of all, here's the video:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywoUBV_pOiI[/youtube]

The first blog in my RSS feeds to find that was Think McFly Think, some hours before it cropped up on Slashfilm et al. Nobody is really saying where they found it, though, so I'm guessing Reddit or some Star Wars forum.

But, now, this isn't a new FX job. This was completed a long time ago, before the release of the last big DVD set in 2004. An extract even appeared  in a special feature on those discs.

Though this is where it gets confusing. I can't go to get my copy of Phantom Menace down off the shelf because I don't have one, but by searching YouTube, I saw the pre-existing versions of the scene and… well, I'm not sure that there's any footage here that hasn't been released before. Are we just looking at a fan edit? Has somebody just cut the CG Yoda that was already available into the pre-existing scene?

Or, somewhere in the last seven years, as the remastering process for the Blu-rays began, did the Lucasfilm digi-elves simply take this version down off of the shelf and finally get it ready to debut?

Either way, I'm expecting Yoda to be the limit of the "big" changes. And because of the history of this footage, I think it's fair to say that it can appear in Phantom Menace, and there still be no new FX work on the Blu-rays.

Anyway, it's a welcome alteration insomuch as it's preferable to the puppet version used in the initial release of the film. Here's that:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHa3D-musUw[/youtube]

Yeuch.  How did that end up failing when the Yoda puppet in Empire and Jedi worked just fine?