All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT walker)
From the MoviesThe All Terrain Armored Transport, or AT-AT walker, is a four-legged transport and combat vehicle used by the Imperial ground forces. Standing a towering 15 meters tall, these walkers are intimidating, and are used as much for psychological effect as they are for tactical effect.
An AT-AT has blast-impervious armor plating, and resembles a gigantic beast as it moves across the battlefield. An AT-AT's head carries the main armaments, a pair of light blasters located on the walker's "temples," and heavier, twin laser cannons mounted on the walker's "chin."
The command crew pilots the AT-AT from the walker's head, which is connected to the main body by a flexible neck. The crew consists of a commander, a gunner, and a pilot. Additional crews and troops can be carried in the walker's main storage bay.
From the Expanded UniverseForged at the Kuat Drive Yards, the same production facility that crafted the Empire's prodigious Imperial Star Destroyer, the AT-AT walker is the perfect embodiment of Imperial philosophy. It favors fear over function, as the immense craft is more a weapon of terror than a completely efficient combat vessel. Although its complex leg mechanisms do require constant maintenance and repair, the rugged walker does live up to its all terrain name, being able to plod through most obstacles.
Inside the AT-AT's armored hull is enough space to carry five Imperial speeder bikes and up to 40 troops. The interior space can be reconfigured to carry two AT-ST walkers instead, though they require partial disassembly to fit inside.
Though the Kuat Drive Yards are the primary production facility for Imperial walkers, foundries on Carida, Belderone and Anteevy are also key contributors to the Imperial armor.
AT-ATs are often modified for mission specific environments. The so-called snow walkers used on Hoth featured added insulation. Dune walkers, conversely, are desert terrain walkers fitted with additional Sienar z23 heat dissipation units. There is also an aquatic cousin to the walker known as the AT-AT swimmer -- an Aquatic Terrain Armored Transport. -- which sports repulsorlift units instead of legs.
Behind the ScenesThe walkers seen in The Empire Strikes Back were realized as intricate stop-motion animation models. In stop-motion, an articulated model is filmed one frame at a time. The model is slightly re-posed between each frame. When the film is projected at normal speed, it appears as if the model is moving on its own. An unfortunate side-effect of this technique is lack of motion blur, since the camera is always capturing a perfectly still image. This results in a jerky, staccato-like movement. Given that the subject matter in this case, the AT-AT walker, was a mechanical vehicle and not a meant to portray a living creature, the staccato jitter was deemed acceptable. To properly capture the motion of hulking quadrupeds, ILM studied the movement of elephants.
Model-makers crafted a number of AT-ATs of various sizes, to meet different camera requirements as dictated by the live action footage shot in Finse, Norway. The smallest walkers, required for distant horizon shots, were a scant 6 centimeters tall. The standard AT-AT walker stood about 50 centimeters tall.
Originally, the plan was to shoot the walkers separately, and then composite them into the live action backgrounds plates shot in Norway. Early tests failed to deliver satisfactory results, as the compositing limitations of the time caused the walkers to look shallow and transparent. Instead, the walkers were mostly filmed on miniature sets featuring gorgeously realistic painted backdrops by artist Mike Pangrazio.
Keywords: Databank - Episode V, Databank - Episode VI
Filed under: Vault, Vehicle
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