Computer Graphics World

Edition 1 2018

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e d i t i o n 1 , 2 0 1 8 | c g w 1 3 tar Wars IV astonished audi- ences in 1977 with unparal- leled visual effects created by Industrial Light & Magic artists in LA using practical effects, and who com- pleted the first trilogy in rambling studios north of San Francisco. The second trilogy began in 1999 with A Phantom Menace, created by digital artists working in a new San Francisco campus. Fast forward to today. Hundreds of ILM artists in four glob- al studios have completed work on two films in the third trilogy. Of the eight Star Wars films, seven have received Oscar awards or nominations for visual effects, including the latest, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, episode eight. 3D models, digital environments, and virtual cameras replaced the first trilogy's models, miniatures, and motion-controlled cameras long ago, and painters now paint digital ships in Photoshop, not balsa wood in a model shop. And yet, artists creating the most recent Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, with the most advanced visual effects tools and techniques available, have not forgotten the past. As they did for the seventh episode, The Force Awakens, they looked at the early films to continue the saga. "Rian wanted to do as much as possible in camera," says Ben Morris, overall visual effects supervisor and creative director of ILM's London studio, referring to Rian Johnson, writer and director of Disney/ Lucas film's Star Wars: The Last Jedi. "So, we literally started with the question, 'Is there a world in which we build all the spaceships as miniatures and shoot motion-control passes like we did 35 years ago?' Tim Keene [visual effects producer] and I ran some numbers. To do even one battle would have been prohibitive in time and cost." It didn't matter. They soon convinced Johnson it wasn't necessary. "We can make an effect look like any- thing today," Morris says. "We can make a CG model look like balsa wood or sparkly CG. It's entirely subjective now. Once Rian [Johnson] understood we wouldn't leave behind the aesthetic, the methodology became secondary." In Star Wars, Morris notes, the aesthetic, that is, the standard for believability, is low- tech design. "It's sci-fi, but it takes place in an amazing lived-in universe," Morris says. "The limitations George [Lucas] had in terms of costumes, sets, and props created a junk- S IMAGES ©2017 ILM, A DIVISION OF LUCASFILM ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY, LTD.

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