Vespon: As most of you know, Lucasfilm, Ltd. is headquarted on 2,500-plus acres of pristine wildlife called "Skywalker Ranch" in Marin County, California. Insiders refer to this place simply as the Ranch. This is the place where all, or at least, most of the magic associated with the new Star Wars films will occur. Below is an e-mail sent in by a reader who had the pleasure of actually visiting Skywalker Ranch. Elusive and rare pics of Skywalker Ranch exteriors and interiors can also be seen below:
"George's original vision for the property included many buildings, which were to reflect the concept that the buildings were created through the generations by an ever-expanding family. Even though the buildings on the Ranch are fairly new, Lucas has created detailed back stories or histories to each building. Ingeniously, Lucas has given the ranch its own mythic quality and the buildings appear to have existed for generations in spite of the fact that you know they are modern creations. Today, these buildings exist around the main ranch house and are home to Skywalker Sound; some or almost all of ILM; an archive of props, models, and matte paintings; and guest cottages with unique themes based on historic figures who contributed to the film industry including Orson Wells, John Huston and George Gershwin. Also, as you would expect, security is very tight at the Ranch.
In fact, the Ranch is home to almost everything necessary for making a film. There's no need to venture to Hollywood during a Lucasfilm production! Whatever isn't available or, by choice isn't utilized on Skywalker Ranch, is within reach of Ranch personnel by means of an ultra high-speed digital transmission. New Prequel footage shot in England could be beamed daily to the Ranch for review. Though Lucas has been a proponent of technology, he isn't obsessed or consumed with it. The story rules and controls the film and not the special effects.
When asked about technology by the press, Lucas once commented, "I have computer scientists working for me who are the best in the world. You get to do much more things producing. You can produce four or five projects at one time. I enjoy getting more work done. At heart I am an artist because I spent my whole life making movies I love to make. I live to make movies. That's all I care about." The incredible special effects that now exist give Lucas the ability to tell stories that just a few years ago would have been technologically impossible and infeasible. What can be envisioned by Lucas can now be put on the screen with little, if any, artistic compromise.
The expansion hasn't been easy for George Lucas, or his staff. Remote neighbors of Skywalker Ranch have fought to prevent new buildings from being constructed. Although Lucas takes great care to preserve nature on the Ranch and the buildings are far from sight, neighboring ranches have sited pollution and traffic as their main reasons for preventing the Ranch's expansion. Like most of Lucas' stories, however, this one has a happy ending. After ten years of legal battles, in October of 1996 George Lucas won the right to expand the Ranch as needed. Lucas had hoped to complete the ambitious expansion of Skywalker Ranch prior to the production of the Prequel Trilogy so that the benefits of the expansion could be utilized, but that is not going to happen." (Source: Aaron 4)