When we think of Star Wars we don’t think of a parking lot near the Van Nuys airport. Such was the state of special effects in 1976.
Industrial Light and Magic was invented on the fly for the purposes of making the film. It’s remarkable to look back on the mother of all action sequences improvised with rope pulleys and animation cameras mounted on the back of pickup trucks. In the analog shire that was Van Nuys…
There was so little air circulation inside the warehouse a single kleig light would raise the temperature to 130 degrees, necessitating outdoor filming.
This is how the popcorn was popped, how Luke Skywalker, patron of fatherless boys everywhere, torpedoed the Empire like a womp rat.
Meanwhile, over in Burbank, also in 1976, Lockheed was developing Have Blue, the prototype for the F-117 Stealth Bomber. This also was an improv of sorts, in response to the rise of Russian surface-to-air missile technology utilized in Vietnam and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The Nighthawk would prove a decisive tipping point in the fall of the Soviet Union.
GM was cranking out Camaros, the terrestrial equivalent of a tie fighter. To drop into the bucket seat was to cross into a kind of knighthood, to aspire to greatness in your own life, however modest it may actually have been.
The Valley was badass, without apology.