Industrial Light and Magic has just released a pair of short clips that show off its amazingly complicated and intricate process of stacking computer-generated effects on top of practical studio set pieces — all to arrive at the ultra-realistic, Oscar-nominated final product on display in The Last Jedi.
One clip shows off the film’s chaotic opening battle, in which the Rebellion clashes with the First Order to bring down a dreadnought. As you can see, it all starts on the set, with a real-life mockup of a Resistance A-Wing fighter against a green screen.
A second, shorter clip features an all-CGI First Order hangar, which needed only a very small handful of Stormtroopers and other bad guys positioned against a green screen backdrop. What’s distinguishing about this clip is ILM’s incredible attention to the architectural details of the hangar’s vast and visually distant interior space, which, though rendered entirely in CGI, has the appearance of a three-dimensional, constructed set.
The clips are intended as an eye-candy showcase for ILM’s Oscar-nominated VFX work, so they’re not exactly giving away trade secrets via an in-depth look at the technical side of the process. But they do demonstrate the mind-blowing level of complexity involved in stacking practical and computer-created effects to produce a seamless-looking final product on the big screen.
It’s a final product that manages to avoid, for The Last Jedi, what many critics of George Lucas’ middle Star Wars trilogy believed was one of that series’ touchy subjects: the uncannily overt visual nature of those films’ omnipresent CGI effects.
The Last Jedi has been nominated for four Academy Awards, including the one ILM’s proud of here: Best Visual Effects (with credit to ILM creative director Ben Morris, creature designer Neal Scanlan, and VFX supervisors Mike Mulholland and Chris Corbould).
Perhaps not surprisingly, Episode VIII’s other Oscar nods all relate to sound: Best Original Score (John Williams), Best Sound Editing (Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce), and Best Sound Mixing (Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, and Michael Semanick).
The 90th Academy Awards ceremony will be held March 4, 2018. You can catch the broadcast at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.