Interview with Chris Trevas, Ryder Windham, and Chris Reiff

February 2, 2012 at 10:00 am | Posted in Interview | Leave a comment
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In this Wookieepedia-ready interview, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual, and discover what information about the Falcon didn’t make the final cut from the book’s creators: Chris Trevas, Ryder Windham, and Chris Reiff.

Please describe the creative and research process for the Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual.

RW: At the outset, we resolved that the book should read as if it were an official publication of Corellian Engineering Corporation. I also decided that it would be practical to limit the Millennium Falcon’s history up to the events of Return of the Jedi. That decision had more to do with the fact that we knew the Owner’s Manual would include photographs from the movies, so Jedi became the effective end point.

After that, we sorted out the book’s contents so we could estimate the page count and determine how many illustrations would be required. Chris Trevas, Chris Reiff and I had previously collaborated on Star Wars Blueprints: The Ultimate Collection (DK Publishing, 2008), which included blueprints for the Falcon, and Star Wars: Millennium Falcon: A 3-D Owner’s Guide (2010), so we were already familiar with a lot of details about the ship. For me, a lot of the research involved reviewing the Star Wars source books and role-playing game books published by West End Games, as those had a lot of information about the Falcon. Also Brian Daley’s trilogy of Han Solo novels, and James Luceno’s novel Millennium Falcon (Del Rey, 2008) Obviously, we also reviewed the Star Wars movies and a lot of photos of the Falcon.

We swapped ideas for things we wanted to include as well as what to omit. For example, Hasbro’s Legacy Collection Millennium Falcon toy introduced a concealed missile-firing mini-fighter for the Falcon, and I thought it would be interesting to include mention of the mini-fighter as an optional add-on for a YT-1300. Then Chris and Chris reminded me about Kenner’s unproduced prototype for a mini-vehicle that was designed to fit between the original Falcon toy’s mandibles, and we agreed to include that too. I briefly considered adding the Falcon’s “explorer ship” that was featured in The Wookiee Storybook (Random House, 1979), but Chris and Chris talked me out of it without much effort. Simply put, the explorer ship wasn’t very well conceived, and looked more like a U.S. Air Force plane than a Star Wars vehicle.

CT: As Ryder said, having the two previous projects under our belts we know the ship quite well. We had to ask ourselves: Where can we go more in depth and what can we add that there wasn’t room for before? We really got to sink our teeth into the details this time, designing the interior workings of equipment and new things no one had seen before like the freight elevator and ground buzzer targeting computer. One thing that was very personal to me was Han’s spacesuit. We don’t see it in the movies, but you knew he had to have at least one on-board. I originally designed the suit for a Star Wars Galaxy series 4 trading card. The illustration featured Han dumping illegal cargo out the starboard side airlock. The Haynes manual features the suit in detail highlighting all the features. It’s very classic Star Wars in design reminiscent of Bossk’s or Bo’shek’s attire. The cargo containers from the illustration also appear in the book.  [Editor's comment: You can view Chris Trevas' Galaxy 4 card on his website.] 

CR: As the guys pointed out we had already all three collaborated on other Falcon projects so this was a great way to  get even a little geekier than we had. Since we had already figured out so much previously we were in a unique position to be able to complete the project and the format, as Chris and Ryder have said, allowed us to get more in depth on details of the ship and all of its modifications than we had previously. The way we tend to work on these projects is that we come up with explanations  (in our heads) for how things work, what different parts do, etc, but we usually don’t get to include all that thinking and explanation in the finished project. This time we were able to include a lot more of that concepting than we had room for on the previous projects. (although we have A LOT more in our heads now from working on this one.) It also means that all of our previous Falcon projects tie together really well with this to provide a much more comprehensive look at the ship than ever before….

Were there any images or information that you wanted to include but didn’t have time or space for?

RW: If you’d asked me a few days ago, I would have been stumped. But I just received an e-mail message from Jean-François Boivin, a friend and fellow member of the Star Wars Fanboy Association, who politely took me to task for not including information about freighter fuel cells and how and when to recharge them. That information was published in the first edition of Star Wars: Galaxy Guide 6: Tramp Freighters (West End Games, 1990), but was omitted from the second edition, which was my reference book. Oh, and another friend, Tim Veekhoven, asked me why I didn’t mention the lucky dice hanging in the Falcon’s cockpit. I think it’s because we were largely focusing on the Falcon as it appeared in The Empire Strikes Back. I suspect Chewbacca ate the dice. Everybody blames the Wookiee.

CT: One thing that we regret was lost due to time and space constraints was a section detailing the front cargo loading arms. Chris Reiff and I wanted to show how they extend from between the mandibles and slid on rails to guide cargo into the freight-loading room. It unfortunately never made it past the discussion stage, but it would have been fun to figure out how the details seen on the ILM model would transform and move.  We considered including an illustration of the Falcon making a crash landing in Hoth (a scene from the Star Wars syndicated comic strip), but the idea was a little similar to the water landing we depicted in the 3D Owner’s Guide and being short on space we decided to cut it.

CR: There are always things. I wish we had more time to develop more cut-aways of ship sections… I managed to do some fun looks at the insides of the main dish, chess table, and shield generators (although there is more to all of them than we had room to show) and was able to design the cargo lift but there is SO much more to explore in detail like that. The escape pods in particular would be fun to visualize all the bits for them that are floating around in my head. There is always room to tweak and expand on this sort of thing… Who knows what format the next Falcon project will take?

Where do the other YT ships come from that appear in the Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual? Only the YT-1300 appears in the films.

RW: If I remember right, the YT-1000 had been mentioned in a couple of novels, but it had never been visualized before. The other YT ships were introduced in books published by West End Games or Star Wars Gamer Magazine.

CT: Technically two YT series ships appear in the films. The YT-2400, which is the model flown by Dash Rendar in the multimedia Star Wars event Shadows of the Empire (1996), briefly appears leaving Mos Eisley in the Special Edition of A New Hope. Details of the ship vary a bit in other books, but I took great care to make sure the ship diagram matched the actual CG model used in the Shadows video game and the movie (the Falcon and Outrider are featured in a composite image I created for the opening of the chapter). The other ships in the YT series come from a variety of sources including the role-playing game books by West End Games and Wizards of the Coast as well as various video games. The YT-1000 was a ship briefly mentioned in a Star Wars novel, but never before depicted. I designed that one myself from scratch.

CR: I think the guys covered this one pretty well…

What will EU fans experience in the Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual?

RW: I think EU fans will appreciate that the artists and I did our homework, that we scrutinized details from many novels, comics, game books, and even a few toys. Also that we didn’t dismiss previously published blueprints, that we made a big effort to incorporate obscure details and present a cohesive history of the Falcon.

CT: Fans will get a very detailed look into the ship’s systems from stem to stern. It’s like a virtual walk-through of the Falcon where you can examine each section and learn the history behind all of her special modifications. We’re huge fans of the Millennium Falcon and we created the book for ourselves as much as we did for all fans.

CR: We tried to draw from every source we could for material… and there is so much info in this book it’ll be hard to not find something new. I’m pretty curious to see if anyone goes about actually attempting to build any of the equipment based on our new designs. If so… let us know… we might have more info for you than you’ll even be able to get from the book. :-P

Do you have any interest in doing additional Haynes manuals for other starships and starfighters?

RW: I’m especially interested in working on Imperial vehicles. Everyone should know their way around the Death Star, and how to maintain and repair an AT-AT.

CT: Definitely! There are so many possibilities to make the Star Wars Haynes manuals into a series. The whole classic alphabet of Rebel starfighters would be fun (A, b, X and Y). The classic ROTJ-style speeder bike seems to have avoided dissection in any books thus far and I’d like to tackle that in some way.

CR: Absotivelutely! The team at Haynes are really great and these books are a load of fun for us. It’s a format I’ve always wanted to work on and the tie in with Star Wars is perfect with all the cool hardware and vehicles. The entire compliment of equipment from the Empire could keep us busy for years not to mention all the manuals for rebel fighters… Droids…. I have to stop now… getting too excited. :)

What are your upcoming projects?

RW: Scholastic just released my novel Star Wars: The Wrath of Darth Maul, and Grosset & Dunlap will ship my novel Star Wars: The Clone Wars—Secret Missions #4: Guardians of the Chiss Key in March. I recently completed work on an expanded edition of Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide for DK Publishing. Right now, I’m writing another Star Wars novel for Scholastic, but the title hasn’t been announced yet, so I can’t reveal details. With Jason Fry, I’m co-writing Transformers: Classified, a series of Transformers novels with for Little, Brown, and the second book in that series should be out soon.

CT: I’m working hard now on my fourth book in the Essential Guide series, the Star Wars Essential Reader’s Companion (written by Pablo Hidalgo and co-illustrated with Jeff Carlisle). I’m illustrating roughly 50 scenes from various Star Wars novels. Chris Reiff and I have some work in the upcoming DK book The Secret Life of Droids. We get to show you what the world looks like from a droid’s point-of-view. I have a couple more new trading cards coming up in Star Wars Galaxy series 7. I’m customizing a Boba Fett helmet for the As You Wish helmet project that will be seen at Celebration VI this year. Reiff and I are also working on some other Celebration plans but it’s a little too soon to discuss them.

CR: MY biggest Star Wars project currently is building a full size R2-D2 out of aluminum… He’ll ultimately travel with me to book signings, etc and hopefully be handy reference for some future in depth projects. We’ve also been busy working on other Star Wars projects for Hasbro, DK, and becker&mayer! There are always new things coming along. I also keep busy though with my Toy design company (chrisreiff.com), with collector vinyl toys, Brand Loyalty Toys (brandloyaltytoys.com), and an iPhone development company that I’m a partner in, Versaries LLC ( versariesapp.com )  I like to beep busy….

Roqoo Depot would like to thank Chris Trevas,  Ryder Windham and Chris Reiff for answering our questions.   Special thanks to Del Rey Editor Erich Schoeneweiss for suggesting Ryder Windham and providing his contact information.  To find out more about Chris Trevas, you can visit his official website.  To find out more about Chris Reiff, you can visit his Facebook page.

Stay tuned next month for another Star Wars interview!

Interviewed by: Dancelittleewok for Roqoo Depot.
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