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R2-D2 Creator Grant McCune Dead at 67

Posted: January 1st, 2011 by WorstPreviews.com Staff
R2-D2 Creator Grant McCune Dead at 67Submit Comment
Grant McCune, the artist who brought such iconic characters as R2-D2 to life for 1977's "Star Wars" has died from pancreatic cancer. He was 67.

McCune, who also appeared in the film as a Death Star gunner, won an Oscar for his work as part of George Lucas' visual effects team, an achievement that sparked a decades-long career as one of Hollywood's top visual effects designers.

He earned a second Academy Award nomination for his work on 1980's "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and went on to handle the visuals for blockbusters like "Speed," "Batman Forever," "U-571," "Rambo," "Ghostbusters 2," and "Spider-Man."

McCune started his career by making props for Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster "Jaws."

Source: Various


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Displaying 23 comment(s) Profanity: Turn On
trailertrash writes:
on January 1st, 2011 at 7:01:35 PM

An Old School special effects and miniature model man, a dying art in hollywood now...

RIP Grant
elrei writes:
on January 1st, 2011 at 7:12:53 PM

You did a hell of a job! thanks for the good times... You can rest in peace.
ShizPaf writes:
on January 1st, 2011 at 7:27:09 PM

Huge bucket of win for this guy. He will be missed.
Man in Black writes:
on January 1st, 2011 at 9:32:53 PM

@TT true they need to return to this kind of film making with "some" CG but with guys like this taking dirt naps tricks of the trade are lost .
DaveThePhotoGuy writes:
on January 1st, 2011 at 9:43:33 PM

RIP Grant McCune.

You were of the old school that will be missed in years to come, glad myself and the world got to see the magic you made.
darkraven28 writes:
on January 1st, 2011 at 9:54:45 PM

Just on that short list of films alone, you will be greatly missed sir. Do rest in peace.
Max Rockatansky Junior writes:
on January 1st, 2011 at 10:46:07 PM

Rest In Peace, Mr. McCune

Genius never dies, it just creates in the great beyond.
BadChadB33 writes:
on January 1st, 2011 at 11:18:02 PM

RIP Grant
Lohan start the year off right be next, be next be next, be next.
Max Rockatansky Junior writes:
on January 1st, 2011 at 11:26:23 PM

BadChadB33 writes:
on January 1st, 2011 at 11:18:02 PM

RIP Grant
Lohan start the year off right be next, be next be next, be next.


@BadChad33

Like Ranger says, from your words to God's will.

Hopefully God is a Ranger's fan.
Ranger writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 2:24:45 AM

lol...

As for this news... Like Leslie Nielsen, it's a shame when the biz loses REAL talent like this guy. 67 ain't old.

As to his work affecting others... I went to a house party in high school. And this guy having the party (actually won an international synthesizer competition in Japan and Spielberg called him up himself (when Steven used to make calls himself) to write the music for part of 'Twilight Zone - The Movie' but that went down the crapper when Vic Morrow lost his head over the project)... anywhore... this guy built a life-sized, EXACT replica of R2D2 (and a Darth Vader suit... again, EXACT replica). So I'm walking around the house with a beer in hand, go downstairs, and there's f*cking R2D2 staring me in the crotch! I though... who the f*ck invites droids to their parties... like, this guy is connected! lol...

RIP Mr. McCune.
The5thBeatle5 writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 2:49:59 AM

RIP Grant McCune
nicholas56 writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 3:12:30 AM

we need more guys like him anymore. rip
trailertrash writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 4:53:48 AM

MiB-

Very true, I'm not really a fan of the 1st Star Trek Movie but the effects in that movie still stand the test of time as does Star Wars.

Some CGI effects can look truely terrible (deep blue sea sharks spring to mind)

Its a film making art we should never totally loose.

But i fear we may.
trailertrash writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 4:56:22 AM

Ranger- Nice story lol

I would like to go to a Hugh Hefner party and have his bunny girls staring me in the crotch.

Just saying..
teuperman writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 10:24:14 AM

Thats real talent lost!!! RIP
minkowski writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 3:59:24 PM

"An Old School special effects and miniature model man, a dying art in hollywood now..."

3D is a superior method of model-making in every way possible. Only because most of the people doing the work are underpaid hacks, slaves as corportae shills to taskmasters with no vision, does 3D get a bad, bad rap.

Facts is, you can produce far, far better work in 3D than you can with balsa wood, styrofoam and enamel/acrylic if only you take the damned time.

The real and persistent problem is the division of labor. Back then one guy would make one model, from start to finish.

Now, for 3D, you have one guy doing the basic concept art, one guy doing the modeling, one guy doing the texturing, one guy doing the lighting, one guy do the rigging, one guy doing the animating, one guy doing the compositing, and so on.

The pipeline is far too divided and expensive. The guys that did work on Star Wars and other classic sci-fi films grew up making models from kits, working with clay, and other analog media methods, so they developed the skills needed to do everything necessary to bring a creature to life on their own.

Sadly, today, modelmaking, the virtual kind, is less an art and more a corporate assembly line for immitative bullsh*t. BUt that has little to do with the technology behind 3D, which is just another of the modern world's whores.
minkowski writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 4:06:08 PM

"this guy built a life-sized, EXACT replica of R2D2"

Rather easy to do. He's a hemisphere-capped cylinder with legs and trimmings.

I'm more impressed that he may have got his hands of the schematics, but considering these guys like McCune didn't often work with prcise blueprints, I highly doubt your friends model was 'exact scale'.

More like a good guess with near-meticluous detail.

On the other hand, I could model R2-D2 in 3D, do the lighting, texturing, rigging and all the BS on a weekend, to PERFECT scale and near-perfect representation.
Ranger writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 4:08:26 PM

Not just in looks Mink. Moved... sounded like the real droid. Spooky.

@tt - thx. If either of us get tickets (I hear his Halloween bash is the biggest of the year), we'll take each other... deal?
minkowski writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 4:44:05 PM

Moved and talked? Well, then if it had R2-D2s voices, he got that from the set. Unless he miraculously had access to voice synthezization technology we don't haven even now.

More than likely, though, he connected some basic gear-based machanics up to a battery and attached a cassette based speaker to the circuit. Easier to do back then when you had Radio Shack everywhere with their Tandy electronic stuff.

Wouldn't be hard to do, especially with a small tape recorder and a micro-cassette tape with a lead-in from some basic synthesizer equipement.

Record a voice saying some R2-D2 phrases, play with the effects or alter the waveform, output to the cassette and voila.

More complicated would be something more random, like the uttering of phrases in odd intervals, so you'd need something other than a time-static cassette, like a trigger and a wireless speaker.

Kids use to have Erector sets with some of the same basic capabilities, years and years ago.
trailertrash writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 5:21:06 PM

Mink - Nice post

I watched the Towering Inferno (again) the other night and the effects in that movie still looked ok and my kids enjoyed watching the movie.

When you watch the making of these old movies like Raiders of the lost ark , Star Wars, Jaws and The Thing.

As you said it was like a labour of love for these effects guys and when it all came together they got the same buzz a Stuntman or Actor would get after they had performed a big stunt or acted in a great scene.

Love that sort of passion, Do the guys today feel that way about their work when they are finshed.....

If they are not on the project from start to finsh then i doubt they do , It's just a job to them which is pretty sad.

Ray Harryhausen , Now that guys movies from the 50's still look good even today 7th Voyage of sinbad is a monster classic.
trailertrash writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 5:21:50 PM

Ranger - Yep you have a deal my friend !!
minkowski writes:
on January 2nd, 2011 at 5:40:17 PM

"If they are not on the project from start to finsh then i doubt they do , It's just a job to them which is pretty sad."

Exactly, tt, and good to see some thoughtful posts from some of you guys. Liked Rangers anecdotal story as well, gave me a chance to really think about what I would need to make my own droid.

Excellent thought provocation.
encoreyourface writes:
on January 3rd, 2011 at 3:19:29 AM

helped with Jaws and created R2-D2 ... what a guy.

RIP.

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