December 13, 2019

School of Communications adds ‘Star Wars’ class

Passion meets education in Webster University’s newest class: “Star Wars: A Journey through Cinema, Media, and Culture.”

The class covers concepts seen in film majors and animation majors, but that does not stop it from welcoming everyone — even newcomers to the “Star Wars” franchise. Professor Jim Tudor admitted to having a full roster which includes a student who have not seen any of the “Star Wars” movies.

“I might be too enthusiastic about it,” Tudor said. “The class is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Junior Ethan Halker, a double-major in Film, Television and Video Production and animation, explained that in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” the walkers are stop motion, an animation technique. The directors, though, created a new system. Everytime a photograph of a single frame was taken, a motor would move it forward automatically, making it look more authentic.

Light sabers are another animation effect explained by Halker. They took a stick and did something known as rotoscoping, where they blow up a frame and paint over it.

Members of the 501st Legion mingle in the Sverdrup Lobby. Photo by Aly Camacho.

When it comes to the student unfamiliar with the “Star Wars” franchise, Tudor explained that the students seem to honor the fact that there is someone in the class who does not know as much as they do about the franchise. 

He has even warned them to stay spoiler free in terms of the upcoming movie, and he believes they have done a good job doing that. He said that there were a lot of important parts in the story that students were careful to avoid spoiling.

“Everyone’s been pretty mindful about not spoiling anything,” Halker added.

The School of Communications welcomed members of “The 501st Legion” on Tuesday, Aug. 27. They stayed from 4:30 p.m. up until 6:30 p.m., mingling with students and introducing them to the course. Because of this, students and professors earned a chance to delve deeper into the production history of the “Star Wars” franchise.

The class meets every Monday from 5:30pm to 9:30pm. Tudor holds a 20 to 30 minute discussion before moving into a lecture, and a movie.

While recent movies have different effects, Tudor mentioned that they actually have the original, despecialized films. One was shown in the movie theater. One came out on the VHS, and one came out on Blu-ray. This allows students to see for themselves the difference in special effects over time.

Furthermore, Tudor says that he tries to show more than “Star Wars” movies—such as films that influenced the series, or even films influenced by it.

Often, though, they run out of time.

“It might not be the most ideal thing, but I’m hoping that I can shift it so that we watch our films and then have time afterwards to discuss,” Tudor said.

Halker, who has witnessed Tudor’s passion himself, agrees that time-management has been an issue in the class.

“If there’s a really good discussion going on, he doesn’t want to end it.” Halker said. “It’s just a few things where you feel a little rushed, or you might have to go a little overtime.”

It’s the only thing Halker would fix, though, and he reassures that it will improve overtime.

Share this post

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail