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Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
37 Years Ago Today

Here's a segment from Universe with Walter Cronkite as aired on WBBM Channel 2, in which "The Most Trusted Man in America" spotlights the goings-on at George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), as a tie-in to the second-released, and fifth in story order, installment in the Star Wars saga, "The Empire Strikes Back" which had premiered in theatres in May to capacity audiences. Includes:

Opening segment, with Cronkite previewing the following items:

- The search for a cure for motion sickness

- Seals in the ice and a scientist who listens to them

- The science behind a fictional universe

We next see Walter in front of a bank of monitors showing an outer-space "intergalatic dreadnaught" [Star Destroyer] scene from the new "Empire Strikes Back" movie, which leads to an entire profile of how such effects were made. We see shots of old Buck Rogers movie serials and the Star Trek TV series (and recent motion-picture revival) which lend themselves to Uncle Walter proclaiming, "That's the way it was" (a variant of his famous evening news sign-off), and juxtaposing with shots from the first two released "Star Wars" films to show how visions of "the future" changed over the years with advances in motion-picture technology, and how "Empire" elevated a new character named Yoda to cult-hero status.

Mr. Cronkite first speaks with "Star Wars" creator George Lucas who took him on a tour of the ILM complex, showing the stop-motion animation department where Tauntauns were being fitted and molded to walk in the snow, and the technique used to gradate their movements (and the resulting effects shown briefly).

Next, Mr. Lucas and his guest go to the model storage room where models of the Millennium Falcon and R2D2 are kept; the more complex models took five men to build and their value estimated in the tens of thousands.

We next see the cameras used to shoot such effects, storyboards being assembled on walls, props being readied, sets being painted, explosions and other effects being placed by hand for each frame, and all elements combined in multi-exposure. George then shows an editor at work at a moviola to show how the various effects (shot individually) are combined.

Next we see a robot camera that films shots that in olden days were well nigh impossible, and which Mr. Cronkite calls the "real star" of the films, moreso than, say, C3PO. Such cameras pan and tilt up, down, etc., to simulate the movement of various spaceships which in fact just stand there. The developer of this system, John Dykstra, who went off on his own and as such worked on "Star Trek - The Motion Picture," speaks of how it was developed and how it works.

We then go to Dopey Drive on the Walt Disney lot (ironic, given how Disney would ultimately acquire Lucasfilm Ltd.), where their own ACES (Automatic Camera Effects Systems) robot cameras were in use in Disney's own "The Black Hole." Electronics expert David English who developed that system explains the workings of this camera setup, and how a scene that would have taken entire crews five weeks can now be done by computer in upwards of two days.

Next, Lucas contrasts this cost-accountant version with his own setup, which was about using their imaginations and for their own entertainment; plus giving kids a chance to think about space.

America's most trusted space enthusiast then closes with these words, to the accompaniment of "Star Wars' " theme music:

"The complicated mixture of sophisticated technology, space-age machinery and starry-eyed fantasy in today's science-fiction films, just may serve as inspiration for a coming generation of scientists. After all, some of today's astronauts, astronomers and anchormen once found Buck Rogers pretty wonderful."

Opening voice over by Bill Gilliand.

"The Empire Strikes Back" - © Lucasfilm Ltd., (LFL) 1979, 1980

This aired on July 26, 1980.

WBBM Channel 2 - Universe with Walter Cronkite - "The Science Behind Star Wars" (1980)

Here's a segment from Universe with Walter Cronkite as aired on WBBM Channel 2, in which "The Most Trusted Man in America" spotlights the goings-on at George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), as a tie-in to the second-released, and fifth in story order, installment in the Star Wars saga, "The Empire Strikes Back" which had premiered in theatres in May to capacity audiences. Includes:

Opening segment, with Cronkite previewing the following items:

- The search for a cure for motion sickness

- Seals in the ice and a scientist who listens to them

- The science behind a fictional universe

We next see Walter in front of a bank of monitors showing an outer-space "intergalatic dreadnaught" [Star Destroyer] scene from the new "Empire Strikes Back" movie, which leads to an entire profile of how such effects were made. We see shots of old Buck Rogers movie serials and the Star Trek TV series (and recent motion-picture revival) which lend themselves to Uncle Walter proclaiming, "That's the way it was" (a variant of his famous evening news sign-off), and juxtaposing with shots from the first two released "Star Wars" films to show how visions of "the future" changed over the years with advances in motion-picture technology, and how "Empire" elevated a new character named Yoda to cult-hero status.

Mr. Cronkite first speaks with "Star Wars" creator George Lucas who took him on a tour of the ILM complex, showing the stop-motion animation department where Tauntauns were being fitted and molded to walk in the snow, and the technique used to gradate their movements (and the resulting effects shown briefly).

Next, Mr. Lucas and his guest go to the model storage room where models of the Millennium Falcon and R2D2 are kept; the more complex models took five men to build and their value estimated in the tens of thousands.

We next see the cameras used to shoot such effects, storyboards being assembled on walls, props being readied, sets being painted, explosions and other effects being placed by hand for each frame, and all elements combined in multi-exposure. George then shows an editor at work at a moviola to show how the various effects (shot individually) are combined.

Next we see a robot camera that films shots that in olden days were well nigh impossible, and which Mr. Cronkite calls the "real star" of the films, moreso than, say, C3PO. Such cameras pan and tilt up, down, etc., to simulate the movement of various spaceships which in fact just stand there. The developer of this system, John Dykstra, who went off on his own and as such worked on "Star Trek - The Motion Picture," speaks of how it was developed and how it works.

We then go to Dopey Drive on the Walt Disney lot (ironic, given how Disney would ultimately acquire Lucasfilm Ltd.), where their own ACES (Automatic Camera Effects Systems) robot cameras were in use in Disney's own "The Black Hole." Electronics expert David English who developed that system explains the workings of this camera setup, and how a scene that would have taken entire crews five weeks can now be done by computer in upwards of two days.

Next, Lucas contrasts this cost-accountant version with his own setup, which was about using their imaginations and for their own entertainment; plus giving kids a chance to think about space.

America's most trusted space enthusiast then closes with these words, to the accompaniment of "Star Wars' " theme music:

"The complicated mixture of sophisticated technology, space-age machinery and starry-eyed fantasy in today's science-fiction films, just may serve as inspiration for a coming generation of scientists. After all, some of today's astronauts, astronomers and anchormen once found Buck Rogers pretty wonderful."

Opening voiceover by Bill Gilliand.

"The Empire Strikes Back" - (C) Lucasfilm Ltd., (LFL) 1979, 1980

This aired on local Chicago TV on Saturday, July 26th 1980 during the 7:00pm to 8:00pm timeframe.

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This clip aired on Saturday, July 26th 1980, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

I have a copy of this one too, albeit the Baton Rouge, LA broadcast. Always been reluctant to post it to YT because of all the LucasFilm footage though.
Comment posted by OddityArchive on Sunday, September 21st 2014 at 6:45pm.

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This clip has been viewed 1109 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Saturday, September 20th 2014.
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[ NEW! ]
WYEN FM 107 - "Request Radio" (Commercial, 1979)


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Most Recent Site Comments

Comment posted in WYEN FM 107 - "Request Radio" (Commercial, 1979) by Detroit4Chicago on Sunday, July 23rd, 2017 at 10:38pm CT

WB - I think the jingle package was produced by TM Productions of Dallas for WNBC in New York; I believe it was named "Image 73."

It think was also used at stations such as WOWO in Ft. Wayne, KDKA Pittsburgh, WXYZ in Detroit and in the '80's at WAKY in Louisville, KY.

This package, along with various tiles such as "Design '70," Design '72," The Propellants," "Where Your Friends Are," "Phase II," "Phase III," "Shockwave" and of course, "The Sound Of Chicago" were (and are IMO) many of the finest jingle promotional works ever accomplished by TM.


Comment posted in WYEN FM 107 - "Request Radio" (Commercial, 1979) by Smctopia on Sunday, July 23rd, 2017 at 10:37pm CT

My mom listened to this station a lot in the 1980s and won a lot of trivia phone-in contests from this station.


Comment posted in WYEN FM 107 - "Request Radio" (Commercial, 1979) by W.B. on Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 at 7:28am CT

For anyone who knows their jingle production companies: Can anyone say for certain which firm would have done that for this station at the end of htis commercial?


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - The Honeymooners (Bumper #1, 1979) by W.B. on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 at 2:22pm CT

I should also note that at the time that bus was first purchased, both New York City Omnibus and Fifth Avenue Coach were controlled by a Chicago-based firm, The Omnibus Corporation (I detected a Chicago connection somewhere besides this WFLD airing). In 1954 that company sold the last of its various bus company interests around the country (they once controlled the Chicago Motor Coach Company, and that had been palmed off to the Chicago Transit Authority in 1952), with NYC Omnibus acquiring Fifth Avenue Coach. In 1956 that company rebranded itself Fifth Avenue Coach Lines, Inc. (with bus routes operated by the heretofore individual companies administered under FACO Division [10 routes] and NYCO Division [21 routes]). Later that year they purchased the bankrupt Surface Transportation Corporation which operated a handful of routes in Manhattan and every route in The Bronx (and whose upkeep was so p-poor, the joke was they came from the factory in that condition); their routes would be administered by a wholly-owned subsidiary started up by FACL, Surface Transit, Inc. All of these routes would be taken over by MaBSTOA in 1962 as the result of a strike against FACL and Surface Transit, brought about when new management led by an out-of-town wheeler-dealer named Harry Weinberg laid off 29 light-duty workers in retaliation for the city not granting his request for a fare hike.

As for The Omnibus Corporation, it ultimately became Hertz. As in, the rent-a-car business for which O.J. Simpson (grrr!) did their ads for years.

And the so-called "2969" paraded around today was originally a New York City Transit System bus numbered 4789. The passing off as 2969 went as far back as 1984 - when I noticed it being shown at the first RALPH convention I attended (which was the second overall).


Comment posted in Laser Blast by Activision (Commercial, 1981) by Smctopia on Friday, July 7th, 2017 at 10:09pm CT

That sounds like Michael Bell doing the voiceover.


Comment posted in Magic Sand by Wham-O (Commercial, 1981) by Smctopia on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 at 10:45pm CT

Ah, here's how Magic Sand worked! http://www.retroland.com/magic-sand/


Comment posted in Magic Sand by Wham-O (Commercial, 1981) by Smctopia on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 at 10:43pm CT

I always wanted Magic Sand but my mom said it was "too messy". How DID it get instantly dry?


Comment posted in Marvel Comics - "Summer Escape"
(Commercial, 1981)
by Smctopia on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 at 10:40pm CT

A park in Chicago near where my Grandma lived used to have red slides like the ones in this ad, as well as the concrete dolphin. And of course Marvel is now owned by Disney. One of the smartest acquisitions they made (along with Lucasfilm)!


Comment posted in KNBC Channel 4 - Ending of NewsCenter4 - Early Edition with Paul Moyer & Kelly Lange and Editorial Reply (1977) by Szake on Friday, June 30th, 2017 at 10:25pm CT

There is a hand at 5:15 in the lower right hand corner of the keyer just before the credits begin.


Comment posted in WLS Channel 7 - Late Night Movie - "A Woman Rebels" (Partial Commercial Break, 1980) by Szake on Monday, June 26th, 2017 at 9:14pm CT

Morrand: This Victory Auto Wreckers Ad actually has THREE different phone number seen in this commercial. If you pause the video at 1:40, an old ending title graphic says 263-3405 for a split second in a smaller font than the duplicate ending title graphic with the more familiar 860-2000. The tow truck has 766-012? painted on it.


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