Don and Mike discuss Star Wars first impressions and design as it related to the stories, characters, and universe in these classic movies.
Don Mock 0:20
Right episode 53 We’re back and we’re back with our friend Mike.
Don Mock 0:24
What’s up, Mike? How you doing?
Don Mock 0:26
Don Mock 0:28
So we’ve been shooting the bull around the office, chatting about TV shows, and what we would like to watch and all that good stuff. At the time of recording this, we are more than halfway through the month of April. We’ve got coming up, you know, the beginning of next month, May the fourth.
Don Mock 0:47
We’ve been talking a lot about the Mandalorian here at the office. I’ve been watching it, Mike’s been watching it. And we thought “Hey, that’s a great topic? Let’s do a Star Wars chat. Let’s do a Star Wars chat about design and Star Wars and the Mandalorian and whatever. We basically- don’t tell any of our clients- just had a 15-minute powwow the other day about Star Wars and I was like, “You know what, damn it! That was a podcast. We should have just recorded that.” So, Star Wars and design… Mike, go!
Well, I mean…
Don Mock 1:17
Puttin’ you on the spot.
On the Mandalorian, we can talk about Moff Gideon.
Don Mock 1:23
Yeah, I think what kind of kind of spurred this entire thing was that I had made the comment “Man, we can sit here and argue and complain about the Mandalorian. This show this and that and this character and blah blah…” go down in the weeds like fanboys and whatnot, right? But I was kind of like, Man, what a crazy time to be alive. Never in a million years that I think we’d have a show that had like 30 Boba Fetts, all running around, shootin and lasers and doing a bunch of stuff, right? So the origin of this idea, I think, was Empire Strikes Back. It’s the first time we see the character of Boba Fett. He Just looked like a total badass, right?
Don Mock 2:00
I mean, he barely even said any words. You know? It’s like, the concept of Darth Vader, the most evil wicked villain ever. Right?
Yeah, pinnacle villian.
Don Mock 2:10
Pinnacle, bad guy. So badass design and everything like that. Boba Fett was hired by that guy. You know what I mean? So he’s got to be evil. He’s got to be badass. I think in those two movies, Empire and Return, man, he doesn’t really speak a lot. You don’t get any backstory. You don’t do anything. However, what are awesome character? And I think the the premise of this sort of chat is design matters, right?
Don Mock 2:40
I mean, just the visual look and feel of what Boba Fett looked like, you knew that he was awesome. You didn’t have to go into the whole rigmarole, the whole backstory. I didn’t need 45 minutes of preamble, like we get movies now, explaining the movie I’m about to watch.
Don Mock 2:54
You just literally look at Boba Fett and you go dude that guy’s a total badass. He’s absolutely an awesome bounty hunter. Look, where’s he from? I don’t even know. It doesn’t matter. He’s totally awesome.
Don Mock 3:05
So I think I think design matters in that respect. Obviously, we can tie this into advertising, graphic design and what things look like, and what brands look like. But I think with May the Fourth, Star Wars Day, coming up it’s kind of an interesting chat. You know, Star Wars design. So you mentioned Moff Gideon, he’s obviously a character in the new season of the Mandalorian. But… thoughts on Mandalorian design and just design in Star Wars. What do you think, Mike?
I think the Mandalorian stuff is really cool. It’s got its own unique look, as it’s kind of separated. At least the first few seasons were separated.
Don Mock 3:43
The Star Wars universe. It was kind of its own thing.
Don Mock 3:46
Kind of rough and gritty.
Don Mock 3:48
Yeah. It was kind of a Western Show, which is kind of neat. Yeah, it’s it’s kind of a bounty hunter guide traveling to the galaxy doing stuff, you know?
Yeah. But when we talked you said some things about Moth Gideon’s design, how he has everything.
Don Mock 4:03
Yeah, we can regurgitate that conversation.
I liked his helmet. His helmet’s really cool.
Don Mock 4:09
Like the Mandalorian but darth side, dark side, and he’s got like the Darth Maul spikes on his helmet.
Don Mock 4:20
Yeah, he’s got a little bit… well, you know, it was dark. We’re in the dark cave, you know? But he’s got the cool Mandalorian helmet with some spikes and things going on it. It’s the shiny black like a deathtrooper, right.
Don Mock 4:31
Yeah, I had made the comment that, you know, he’s got some electronics on his armor, kind of like Darth Vader does. So he’s got some things going on there. Right. He’s shiny black, like a death trooper. He’s got a jump pack, like lit Mandalorian. He’s also got a cave. He’s got a little bit of everything. It’s kind of like they threw everything at him. but I think that also feeds into the mystique of. he’s an evil badass.
Don Mock 4:56
And there are some classic tropes, like Darth Vader is all blacked out, and he’s got the cape, and he’s just illuminated by the red lightsaber. It’s pretty badass.
Don Mock 5:07
So I think… and Mike, feel free to jump in here. I feel like I’m doing all the talking. I feel like, if we’re talking about design and Star Wars, the ultimate design for me ha definitely been the Stormtroopers. Because I think, what a unique, weird creation. Then over 30 years now, or even longer, just how they’ve evolved the helmet style, the paint style. Obviously, we’ve got the complexities of they’re good guys, they’re clones or they’re not. They’re bad guys, order six. I mean, we can go down to Star Wars nerd cave here. But I think that the way they were introduced to us in the late 70s, we’re like, “wow, what world is happening here?” But then they’ve really evolved the design to be more militaristic in terms of the paint schemes, the different colors for the different brigades, things like that.
Don Mock 6:01
Full transparency, I’m sitting here next to a stormtrooper that’s in our in our conference room, that I that I assembled. It took me about a year. It’s one size fits Dawn, or you’re used to fit. I don’t know, we’ll see. But I’ve always been a fan of the helmets, the paint schemes, the design of Star Wars. Always thought it was pretty cool.
Yeah, I like the new take on the stormtroopers as well. Their helmets they were kind of cool. The line that comes down to the mouth.
Don Mock 6:29
Are you talking to the newest trilogy?
The newest trilogy.
Don Mock 6:33
Yeah, episodes, what is that? 7, 8, and 9?
Don Mock 6:38
They’re first order now.
First order troopers. Yeah, This one. I thought it was interesting. It wasn’t too far outside of normal Stormtrooper. But it was a nice, more moderny look to a storm trooper.
Don Mock 6:49
I love Star Wars. No doubt about it. Did you grow up watching the Star Wars and loving Star Wars? I’ve seen you wear a Star Wars shirt in the office. That’s what I was like, Hey, Mike. We’re doing a podcast.. surprise.
Yeah, I mean, I grew up. I think my dad showed me the original trilogy.
Don Mock 7:07
Nice. It’s a good father.
And then I watched the prequels when they came out. Yeah, I’m sure I like them then.
Don Mock 7:15
Cuz it was a kid, and it was all Jar Jary.
Don Mock 7:17
Yeah, well, it’s new. It’s Star Wars. I’m not even gonna ask you how old you were when the prequel… because I mean, I’m a full-fledged… I mean, I’m obviously older than you. Yeah, it’s been…. I had the books like The Art of Star Wars, all the background stories of like, ILM and how they created, how they made the little models and all the stuff like that. When I was a little kid, I loved all that stuff, man. I mean, I wanted to make little models. I used to take model kits. I’d use three different model kits to make like my own little vehicles to, not tremendous success, because I was kid. It wasn’t like I was a full-fledged ILM guy. But just the appreciation of the creativity, I guess, in the Star Wars universes is pretty incredible.
I think they’ve taken on that ILM…I think they call them Greebles or something like that.
Don Mock 8:12
It’s little the model parts that they would put. Then they’re all little weird shapes. That’s what they would call all the parts they put on a Star Destroyer and stuff.
Don Mock 8:13
I mean, people have gone through and identified where they found all the different pieces for all the different… which like, Whoa! yeah, that’s pretty impressive.
Don Mock 8:34
But the creativity. I mean, if you love the movies, oryou don’t, whatever, I think the creativity of the universe-building is pretty impressive. You know?
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Those styles, they’re continuing to bring on, even in 3D, where you can design the whole thing. They’re still taking those older aspects of model-building and putting these little things on and bringing the three dimensional designs of all these things.
Don Mock 9:02
Yeah, well, practical effects, I think still matters to actors and performances. I know that now they’ve got the whatever Fabbro invented, that weird like, 360 degree thing. How do you explain that? What is that thing?
It’s almost just like a big… I think it’s like almost like a big TV screen. They’ve got the three-dimensional world projected, that is based on the location of the camera, and will change perspectives based on the camera. I think it’s like a 3D world that they have on Unreal Engine or something.
Don Mock 9:37
It’s still in a soundstage though.
Don Mock 9:39
The performers are still acting in a soundstage. But I think they get the cast lighting of the environment off their helmets and off other rhings to help in the in the final composite. Even though we’re in a 3D world, you know. Obviously, we’re in a 3D world. I mean, in the 3D world in terms of like tools and how things are rendered and whatnot now. But I love that they still sculpt and do MCATs of all the different characters to pick who…. I mean, they have artists that just knock out like, Hey, here’s 20 Aliens. Which is the one we want? That artistry, I think, is to be commended, I think.
Yeah, definitely. They’ve they tried to take out puppets in the sequel series, and then they brought them back in the most recent stuff and all in the Mandalorian. You have the Salacious Crumb guys like I mentioned. I love those trees.
Don Mock 10:37
I think there’s two different puppets is what I’ve heard.
That’s what I heard, too.
Don Mock 10:41
There’s like the close up puppet, that doesn’t have legs, but is more of an emotional performer. Then there’s the far-away puppet that can walk him out and around him. But I don’t think he does as much facially I.
Don Mock 10:56
Yeah, it’s an interesting… I think if we’re talking about design matters… and for those of you that have watched the first season, the Mandalorian, there’s not a lot of dialogue in a few of those episodes.
Don Mock 11:03
Even when there is dialogue, it’s from Jawas, and different creatures that aren’t necessarily speaking English, right? Then you’ve got a 50-year-old baby Yoda, who doesn’t really speak. Then you have the Mandalorian, you don’t see his face. Right?
Don Mock 11:22
He’s covered in the cool helmet. So that performance, very nuanced, little motions and little things. How can you get emotional, when literally, it’s a puppet and somebody whose face is covered. I think that ties back into the design of the helmet and the design of the character in general. Right?
I think if I was to tie this into advertising and design… first impressions matter, right?
Don Mock 11:52
We had done a podcast about Comic Sans, right? It’s like, Hey, first impression of coffee shop. Boom, I’ve got Seattle’s Best, Pete’s coffee, and Starbucks and then local Comic Sans using… you know what I mean?
Don Mock 11:54
So it’s, Hey, don’t worry about color… what do you think has the best cup of coffee? That initial presentation, I think, is going to matter, right? You’re gonna lean into… you know, Starbucks is a little bit more polished, a little bit more professional. Pete’s is maybe a little bit more hand crafted. It’s got a little bit more of a hand-drawn logo and things like that. Seattle’s Best maybe in the middle or airport coffee, that type of thing. But like, oh, man, I’m not going to the Comic Sans guy for my cup of joe, right?
Don Mock 12:38
Anyway, I kind of took us off track there for a second, but any other characters, any other Star Wars stuff, that you think is just totally insane and awesome.
How do you feel about good old Darth Maul? I thought-
Don Mock 12:52
I love Darth Maul.
Yeah, being younger, I don’t have as much hate for the prequel-trilogy, as many people do.
Don Mock 13:04
I don’t have hate for the prequel-trilogy. I will say. with my first kid, we watched Star Wars in machete order, though. Are you familiar with machete order?
I’m not familiar with machete order.
You do four, five, so you do A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. Just like how I grew up so episode four, episode five. It’s called machete order because you chop episode one out. So you go four, five, then you chop episode one. You do two and three, so the flashback. Luke mentions the clone wars, that kind of stuff. So you do the flashback of the Clone Wars, how he becomes. So you do Four- introduce the universe. Five- oh my god Luke, I’m your father. Flashback to the Clone Wars. Then jump forward and end on Episode Six.
Don Mock 13:31
Kind of like how we end it, right?
Don Mock 13:53
You don’t lose anything by chopping the entirety of episode one out. There’s no story that continues from one to two. Jar Jar basically becomes… he’s like a senator in the background. There’s one comment, I think, from Obi Wan that’s like, oh, Jar Jar. He goes blah blah blah. But it’s kind of a throwaway-something. None of the none of the plot or story that happens in episode one actually carries over into anything else, if that makes any sense.
But you do lose out on your Darth Maul.
Don Mock 14:22
You do lose Darth Maul.
That is a shame.
Don Mock 14:25
Significant disadvantage. Fantastic character, fantastic character. I know in the Clone Wars cartoons, they again expanded on his race. Forgive me I don’t remember what race of alien he is.
It’s like Z something, something with a Z.
Don Mock 14:39
But they have different colorings. They’re not all red and black. Some of them are yellow and whatnot. But phenomenal, phenomenal character design. I will pepper you with this tidbit, too. Went down to Disneyworld years and years ago, and you’re at the- I think it’s the MGM park, whichever with the Movie Park is- and they had a whole Star Wars thing going on. My son was wearing a Darth Vader shirt and it was hilarious. All the stormtroopers came up and talked to him and be like, thank you for supporting the First Order citizen. He was kind of freaked out about it. But anyway, so they’re gonna do this weird performance and all the characters go by and Darth Maul full makeup, full everything. I mean looks absolutely tiptop, looks right at my son, and does the like, Arrrgh, with his teeth. Total nightmares that night. Yeah, it was like get Darth Maul stared at me. So love the character. Shame that they killed him immediately. But they kind of brought him back in in a weird roundabout wayin the Clone Wars.
Don Mock 15:43
I don’t think you watched any of that. Did you?
I watched a few. A little bit of it. I know that he came back with weird spider robot legs.
Don Mock 15:50
Much later on.
Yeah. So spoiler alert, everybody, even though it’s been 20 years. They cut him in half. and you think he’s dead. But somehow magically, he survives, even though his legs are missing. Then he crawls himself to safety or something like that, and then creates This animatronic spider sort of leg bottom, I guess. But I think another great instance of “design matters”… we had 20 years of regular as Lucas likes to call them, “laser swords.” Then boom, all of a sudden, you get Darth Maul. and it’s got the double-ended, like, “Oh, my God!” Everyone went bananas like, “Whoa!” It’s more like a sort of bow staff scenario, than a traditional sword, right?
Don Mock 16:33
So yeah, loved it. Loved it.
Yeah. He’s got a very, very evil look. Right when you see him you’re like, “Oh, that guy’s evil.” He’s got horns. He’s red. He’s got a crazy face pattern.
Don Mock 16:45
Well, that’s a great, that’s a great point in that- again, if we’re talking about design matters, the bad guys look like bad guys.
Don Mock 16:51
You don’t need to know the whole backstory. You just look at him and go, “ooh, that guy’s evil.”
Don Mock 16:56
You can tell, where to a certain extent, you could almost make the argument that the rebels are the bad guys in Star Wars the whole time. You have like, they’re the guerrilla warfare against the government. Now the Galactic government is not good. They’re not doing good things.
Don Mock 17:13
Yeah, exactly. I mean, bad things are happening, but the good guys look like good guys and the bad guys look like bad guys.
Don Mock 17:20
You know, Jabba the Hutt disgusting. Disgusting.
Don Mock 17:23
Gross. slimy. Disgusting, horrible, blah. Fantastic character design.
Don Mock 17:31
Fantastic design in general. Like, Oh, of course, that’s the big, slothy, just gross guy who has bounties on everybody. He’s kind of that rich-
Yeah, he’s got the pet rancor or down there that eats people… it’s great. So… anything you hate about? I mean, it’s a random peppering here. But anything Star Wars related, that you think the design was inferior? Just out of curiosity?
Inferior. I mean, easy go-to is Jar Jar. Jar Jar is an easy hate pinpoint.
Don Mock 18:05
Yeah. Poor guy. Well, you had mentioned, you said, Hey, you watched the prequels. and you didn’t have the hate that a lot of people did. I think, I resigned myself to the fact that like, hey, those movies are for the next generation of Star Wars fans. Which is like, I’ve always got my Star Wars. I’ve always got the ones that I love. Adding to the universe, to me, personally doesn’t take away from what I love or the things that I experienced or whatever. It doesn’t sour the whole thing.
Don Mock 18:35
You know, they got Star Wars cartoons. I don’t watch all the cartoons. But like, hey, those aren’t for me. You know what I mean, there’s different pockets of that- pun intended- universe, for different entry points, for different people, which I think is cool.
Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, they were definitely targeted towards a younger audience, for sure. All of t=his stuff is a little bit more goofy.
Don Mock 18:53
I do see where cutting off the first… the machete order is nice, because a lot of that Jar Jar goofy kids humor stuff is in the first one.
Don Mock 19:06
It kind of lightens up on the well. pod
Don Mock 19:08
Well, pod racing doesn’t really do anything. The most interesting part I think of number one, besides the cool battle with Darth Maul, and just the introduction of that character, is you get the backstory to 3P0. Who honestly- this is gonna sound crazy- honestly, might be my favorite character in the whole universe.
Don Mock 19:27
Well, he’s the consistent comic relief.
Don Mock 19:31
That kind of is levity, brought to all these different scenarios.
Yeah, it’s also not too goofy. It’s like kind of here and there kind of funny.
Don Mock 19:41
Well, he’s got like an Abbott and Costello kind of thing going on with R2. He’s kind of grumpy and pain-in-the-ass-y. You know what I mean? He’s consistent through everything, somehow always manages to accidentally fumble his way into some set of of of progress, right?
Don Mock 19:43
Then I think it’s funny that how many times has a memory been wiped? Like two or three times, right? You know what I mean? So you kind of reboot the character and in a loving fashion. I don’t know, the older I get, the more I appreciate 3P0, and just the comedy relief he brings. The whole thing is just ridiculous in general. And so, it’s a good, don’t take yourself too seriously. So So Jar Jar is kind of your anti. For me, I’d say some of the ship design in the prequels didn’t really do it for me. And the reason why I think is a kind of felt out of continuity, right?
Yeah, it definitely felt like it was more futuristic. But it was actually in the past.
Don Mock 20:46
Yeah Omni Dolla ship of full chrome and all. So you’ve got four, five, and six. Those X-Wings and TIE Fighters and Y-Wings and all that good stuff. Man, we are down the nerd cave right now. I love it. But then you go back in time, and everything feels more modern.
Don Mock 21:04
Don Mock 21:05
Yeah, it kind of felt a little strange to me.
Yes. I can see that for sure.
Don Mock 21:09
Yeah, but character design, man. Shoot. 30, 40 years, all of those characters have hung on. I love bringing them into the future and evolving them into seeing their home worlds and all that kind of stuff. I think it’s pretty cool. So yeah, design matters. Creature design matters. You know, Boba Fett? Absolutely the design matters, you know, call this episode Star Wars, First Impressions. You know what I mean? I think maybe there is something to be said for, as you’re working on, or as we’re sitting here working on consumer packaging. It’s a package for a product that you get in a grocery store. Well, that first impression does matter.
Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
Don Mock 21:53
Which I think is pretty cool. So any other thoughts on Star Wars before we wrap this one up? I mean, I could talk for 22 minutes about Star Wars.
Yeah, I could talk about many different Star Wars thing. Well, Ralph McQuarrie’s original designs. I think that’s all very interesting. You’re kind of seeing that come back now.
Don Mock 22:09
Don Mock 22:10
They included some of his original designs for C3P0. I think they included that robot in there. Which I think is interesting.
Don Mock 22:19
I love that.
That stuff is super, super cool looking.
Don Mock 22:21
Yeah, yeah. The original 70s matte paintings and McQuarrie design of the universe in general. I think it’s pretty cool that they have gone back to that legacy work. As the universe has expanded. For those that don’t know, a lot of different designs for what 3P0 could be, right?
Don Mock 22:41
Well, as the stories were told, he’s considered a protocol droid, right? Oh, well, why can’t there be design? Why do they all have to look like 3P0?
Don Mock 22:50
Protocol droids can look like whatever we want protocol droids to look like.
Don Mock 22:54
So I think it’s super cool that they’ve gone back to the source and the original imagination factory, to pull the design of other droids and other protocol droids. Yeah, yeah. All that stuff is pretty cool, man. The practical effects. I mean, the matte paintings for the movies and stuff, so so cool.
Yeah. Beautiful stuff. Just looking back at all of his stuff. It’s interesting to see how it’s come. There’s like a sketch of, I think it was Darth Vader ,and then… I can’t remember what they named him before he was Luke Skywalker. It was like something Star Killer or something. It’s interesting to see where it came from, to where it is now.
Don Mock 23:37
Yeah. The sand people to had some significant changes, if memory serves, over the years. And the Banthas, as it kind of transitioned to a very desert planet.
Don Mock 23:47
I think a lot of the furry creatures kind of went away, right? It’s too warm for for that client.
Don Mock 23:52
So sand people. Another great design. I mean, what is that? What are they wrapped up in? What is happening there? I have no idea. You know?
Yeah. Very deserty, mysterious. They make weird sounds. They’ve got weird…
Don Mock 24:07
Yeah, what do they speak? What is happening? They’ve got little frogs or lizards that crawl up your nose and send you on a magical voyage? So yeah, a lot of mystery with the Sand People. So anyway, Star Wars design. I think there’s a lot of fertile ground for a lot of cool things. But it’s interesting to think about first impressions, and how design matters. Alright, I think we’ll wrap it up for today on that one. Thanks for listening everybody. You can find us online at mocktheagency.com Or on the socials, surprisingly @mocktheagency. and we’ll chat with you next time. Thanks, everybody.