J.J. Abrams on the importance of practical effects in The Force Awakens
We're another day closer to the release of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS and many fans are hoping that this will mean the return of the franchise they've loved for so many years. The prequel trilogy has its fans, but one of the (many) criticisms thrown its way had to do with its reliance on digital effects, especially in situations where practical effects would have been completely feasible. Thankfully, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS will mark a return to the days of the original trilogy and feature practical effects whenever possible. Sure the film will have its share of digital effects, but knowing that we'll be seeing real sets, real locations, real explosions, and real characters is hugely exciting to me.
This was really important, that the movie, in a way, go backwards to go forwards. This was very much about new characters and a new story, and like Star Wars has always been at its best, a generational tale of understanding young people and understanding their place in the world. So these are brand new characters that we’re meeting, but I wanted it to look and feel the way the original trilogy did – which is to say, when I saw those two droids in the desert of Tatooine, that was real. Like, I knew it. I didn’t know necessarily that they were shooting in Tunisia, I didn’t know how they did what they did, I just knew as a kid, as we all did, that’s real.
There was something about seeing that that inspired us to shoot in Abu Dhabi and shoot in Ireland and Wales, and build elaborate sets at Pinewood, exterior and interior. So it was very much a conscientious thing to have BB-8, the new droid, be a performed character and not a CG thing we add later. It helped in countless ways, mostly for the actors, to be able to be on sets and interacting with creatures and ‘droids and things that were physically, tangibly there and use CG, in many cases, to remove things –remove the puppeteer, remove the legs sticking out of the bottom of the creature, that kind of thing.
I'm aware that keeping things practical whenever possible is in no way a guarantee that STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS will rise above the prequels (although I certainly hope that it will), but feeling the worlds of Star Wars, knowing that something was there, be it snow crushing beneath a Stormtroopers boot or mud flicking across a Rebel's face on Endor, these are things that I really missed in George Lucas' prequels and that I can't wait to experience once again in THE FORCE AWAKENS.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS opens on December 18, 2015, but you can pass the time by checking out BB-8's brand-new character poster!
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