Jedi Mas­ters

trevor Hogg en­coun­ters the cre­ative force of ilm when ex­plor­ing the vis­ual ef­fects wiz­ardry found in star Wars: the Last jedi

3D Artist - - CONTENT -

We jump into hy­per­space with Ben Morris and Mike Mul­hol­land to talk Star

Wars: The Last Jedi se­crets

As film­maker Rian Johnson took con­trol of the Star Wars fran­chise with The Last

Jedi, he was sup­ported by pro­duc­tion VFX su­per­vi­sor Ben Morris and ILM fa­cil­i­ties in San Fran­cisco, Lon­don, Van­cou­ver and Singapore as well as six third-party ven­dors in pro­duc­ing 2,000 shots fea­tur­ing new crea­tures, en­vi­ron­ments, mod­els and more.

One of the prom­i­nent alien crea­tures in The Last Jedi is a Porg, a hy­brid of a baby seal and puf­fin. “Neal Scanlan [crea­ture shop con­cept de­signer] and his team built a se­ries of dif­fer­ent pup­pets that were ar­tic­u­lated in spe­cific ways in order to achieve cer­tain things,” states Morris. “As a safety fall­back we built a dig­i­tal ver­sion that was kept close to what a prac­ti­cal pup­pet could achieve.” Ahch-to’s nun-like Care­tak­ers, which are a cross be­tween lizards and fish, were en­tirely prac­ti­cal. “They have bird-like feet so the cos­tumed per­form­ers play­ing them had lit­tle green legs on; we painted those out and an­i­mated in some CG feet when you could see them.” Crys­talline foxes with re­flec­tive iris and pupils mean­while in­habit the planet of Crait where the Re­sis­tance have their fi­nal bat­tle with the First Order. “The Vult­pex were in­spired by beau­ti­ful oily iri­des­cent re­frac­tive crys­talline struc­tures along with some sculp­tures.” Light­ing them was tricky. “They picked up not only light­ing re­frac­tions but also re­flec­tions and in­ter­reflec­tions of the en­vi­ron­ment around them.” Falth­iers are ma­jes­tic short fur crea­tures with long manes and large ears at Canto Bight. “The anatomy was in­spired by a horse but if you look at the legs and their bone pro­por­tions they’re closer to a dog or cat. Chee­tahs, grey­hounds and hunt­ing dogs are able to do quite am­bi­tious move­ments and the Falth­iers needed to do that.”

As with The Force

Awak­ens, ILM

Lon­don trans­formed

the mo­cap per­for­mance of Andy Serkis into the Force-sen­si­tive hu­manoid alien Snoke. “Rian wanted Snoke to feel like flesh and blood,” states ILM vis­ual ef­fects su­per­vi­sor, Mike Mul­hol­land. “They cre­ated a new prac­ti­cal ma­que­tte for on­set ref­er­ence with a real skin tone qual­ity that put him more into the phys­i­cal world. We took data and ref­er­ence pho­tog­ra­phy of that and started re­build­ing Snoke. Andy Serkis is such an ex­pert in the field of mo­cap that you can put him on the stage and he knows what to do. We were able to build a mo­cap rig on the set, cap­ture ma­te­rial and Andy was able to per­form as if it wasn’t there. You get a fan­tas­tic per­for­mance.”

The cam­era and pro­cess­ing tech­nol­ogy were up­graded to en­able more ac­cu­rate mo­cap in­for­ma­tion be­ing trans­ferred to the an­i­ma­tors. “When we started putting Snoke into the first round of shots, Rian re­alised that the de­sign of the char­ac­ter felt like a fee­ble old man and he wanted the char­ac­ter to feel much more ag­gres­sive and pow­er­ful. We gave him a more pow­er­ful jaw line and ad­justed the skull slightly. They’re sub­tle changes but make a large dif­fer­ence. That was some­thing which hap­pened mid­way through the pro­duc­tion.”

One of the first shots ever cap­tured was of the ro­botic hand of Luke Sky­walker (Mark Hamill) re­ceiv­ing his lightsaber from Rey (Daisy Ri­d­ley). “I had no idea on how close we were go­ing to go and then Rian pulled out his viewfinder and put on a macro lens,” re­veals Morris. “It rep­re­sents Luke’s hand af­ter be­ing sliced off by Darth Vader. You can see the in­ter­ac­tion marks and scor­ing on the back of the me­tal plates that re­lates to

Andy Serkis is such an ex­pert in… mo­cap that you can put him on the stage and he knows what to do Mike Mul­hol­land, ilm VFX su­per­vi­sor

just like in The Force Awak­ens, BB-8 is a seam­less blend of prac­ti­cal and dig­i­tal ef­fects

it was an even split be­tween the CG ver­sion and an­i­ma­tronic pup­pet be­ing used in shots for the Porgs Cre­at­ing the water planet of Ahch-to was a seam­less com­bi­na­tion of lo­ca­tion pho­tog­ra­phy, stage work and CG aug­men­ta­tion

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