Star Wars legend John Dykstra is the man in charge of visual effects
Apocalypse can manipulate inanimate objects – how are you visualising that?
Part of the fun of this movie is to see the details of things. So rather than just see a building falling down there’s an opportunity to explore what happens internally at a molecular level. Bullet Time is a good example of that kind of thinking. His power has to manifest something that’s not particularly visible. If you were doing a guy whose power was throwing lightning, easy – we all know what lightning is. When it comes to desublimation, which is a solid going into a gaseous form directly or a gas turning into a solid directly, there’s no identifying visual. But people need to feel that there’s some physics behind it, in terms of the way things move, conservation of mass… You allow a little magic as long as there’s a dose of reality with it.
What’s the balance between physical effects and CGI?
We’ve tried to create as many things as we can practically. The tendency towards computers is empowering and at the same time limiting. There’s serendipity that happens when you do real things. When I began doing visual effects you had to figure out how to physically make an object do something that was recorded on film. With a computer you don’t have that limitation anymore. But you also don’t have the process involved with the creation of the final image, and that process is informative and in some cases really valuable. In a weird way it’s like the difference between a handwritten letter and an email.