Is This 'Leaked' Set Footage from 'Star Wars: Episode VII' More Convincing Than the Films?

As filmmakers we're often trying to convince an audience that what they are seeing is real, even if what they are watching couldn't possibly exist. That's why it's always interesting when "viral" videos come out that really make people question what they are seeing, if only for a short time. We saw this recently with the fake Hoverboard video, and even though some work for different reasons, for the most part they play on the fact that people tend to have their guards down when watching "amateur" or "nonfiction" videos. While a new video claiming to be leaked on-set footage from the newest Star Wars film is obviously CGI, is there something about it that makes us want to believe it more than the films themselves?

Here is the Star Wars video from Frank Wunderlich on YouTube:

Looks like the Story of Star Wars plays on Earth too in the next Episode. I took these pictures on my Flight back from the States to Germany at the Frankfurt Airport. Seems like the biggest german airport plays a key role as an imperial starport in the new episode -- there have just been imperial forces at the scene.
Maybe the Rebelboys hide in Berlin... :-D

As well done as the video is, it's obviously fake, but at least a few people have been fooled. The title and description may be contributing to that at first, but what about these techniques might be convincing to regular people besides the premise that it is actual footage? Certainly the rough handheld approach in the beginning can trigger something in our brains that tells us this is "home video." Plenty of viral videos over the years have utilized this technique of poorly shot footage mixed with solid CGI, and more will utilize it in the future.

We've also seen this with found footage films. Movies like Cloverfield and Chronicle are both shot as if they were taken as amateur video, even though what we're watching is obviously a Hollywood creation with plenty of CGI. Probably the most famous of these films, The Blair Witch Project, utilized the same techniques, and tried to catch the audience off guard by telling the audience it was real in the beginning, and by creating marketing material around the film that might convince people who aren't paying close enough attention.

Whether or not the audience knows for sure if something is fake, putting doubt in their mind or engrossing them enough so that they forget is usually what can help a film or video be more successful. While it's easy to dismiss these kinds of videos, exploring the techniques used can help us learn more about our potential audience.

Link: Frank Wunderlich -- YouTube

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Your Comment


Funny. 3/10

July 8, 2014 at 6:08AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


you know why!!! there is no fake, this is the real thing!!

July 8, 2014 at 6:35AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I love videos like this, i saw this the other day and sent it to a ton of friends. Gets people excited for the film, and someone has a lot of fun messing around with some VFX, probably learning a lot in the process.

win win I say!

July 8, 2014 at 7:14AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Movies today are more about the marketing then the movie. From all the constant updates I have heard about this movie in the news, I would say this is the most heavily marketed movie of all time. The reason you like this so much is because it is a commercial aimed at you to get you excited about the movie.

July 8, 2014 at 8:20PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Exactly. Would the douche-bag element stand up and cheer. WooT wOOt!!

July 10, 2014 at 10:48PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Some people really thought this was real ? By ILM standards, It's just "ok".

July 8, 2014 at 7:45AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


silly comment really, If ILM were to do a video style vfx video like this using a regular camera to make it look like video it wouldn't look much better. From a lighting, rendering and modelling perspective, as well as compositing, this looks pretty photo real. It's top quality work. It's not a huge explosive action set piece that's 100% CGI like a scene from one of the prequels. This is spot on, ILM is great at what they do but let's give this video some context which is what I've done. Seriously stick a regular camera into any of ILM's staff's hand and they won't be able to do better. Plus ILM stuff doesn't look real, it looks cool. I work in VFX down London and my mentor worked at ILM and Digital Domain. I showed it to him and he agreed.

July 8, 2014 at 8:32AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Shaun Fontaine

If it looked cool people wouldn't be fooled. There isn't much you can do with flat grey models beyond wear and tear decals (not to mention these models don't logically require it), lens flare and cinemascope.

Maybe a worse quality camera and a little more amateurish/voyersitic film style would have paid off much much more.

July 8, 2014 at 5:28PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I've heard of a place called ILM so I must use it in a comment and condescend to sound important!

July 8, 2014 at 10:18AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I agree. The rendering looks good, but the animation is not very good. I.E. Machines flying in a perfectly straight line just above ground level, walking machines that don't move to the mass they represent.

July 8, 2014 at 2:43PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


The animation was the only thing that threw me off, specially on the AT-ATs and the AT-STs. The rest was cool (although maybe some shots lingered too long for my taste).

July 10, 2014 at 12:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Hahahaha, agreed. These people arguing with you don't seem to realize that there's a reason that films spend 100's of millions on Visual Effects done by effects houses like ILM, instead of just hiring people like this guy for cheap. There's waaaaaaay more to it then just "lighting, rendering, modeling, as well as compositing". If it were as simple as creating a model, lighting it properly, blending it with the scene, and rendering then films would not take 2 years in post.

July 10, 2014 at 3:50AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Waaaait a second... Frankfurt? That would explain the Empire having German accents.. still no good explanation why they've got British accents though. lol

July 8, 2014 at 7:49AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Will Vincent

I thought it was pretty great! I loved the walker just moseying down the runway, and the star destroyer parked in the back on the other side of the control tower. That would have been a good time to make.

July 8, 2014 at 10:03AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Meh ... like they have any room in Frankfurt for anything besides the international flights ... at worst, he should have set this at a US Air Force base somewhere ...

July 8, 2014 at 11:10AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


The main problem behind most (if not all) of these 'found footage' VFX shorts is that they try their damndest to make CGI pass as actual tactile objects that exist in the everyday world, and these Imperial warships, AT-ATs, etc. honestly look like they belong in cutscenes from a Gamecube game.

If this guy really wanted to sell it, he should of just employed practical models and stop motion. He'd have to shoot at a lower quality to not give too much of the plastic detailing (or lack thereof) away, but at least they'd look like they fit.

July 8, 2014 at 11:47AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


It's pretty good, and definitely fun. The AT-AT is what makes it fall apart though. No sense of weight; as if it was made of hollow plastic or plywood, and much to fast for that size. I think some heat trails on the tarmac and from the ships would have helped too. But all that being said, a lot of work went into it and kudos to the maker(s).

July 8, 2014 at 12:03PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Doug Bowker

The Death Star it's the best of the clip at 1:07! hahahahahah xD

July 8, 2014 at 1:23PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Rafa Ga

Here is another leaked video from Star Wars episode 7.

July 8, 2014 at 10:02PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Does a single second of that crap approach the original series? Lucas final series, (thank the lord) pile of shit, seems to make everyone who has mastered a level of GFX think they have even the smallest bit of artistic credibility.
Yes you too can be the new Lucas. So sad.

July 10, 2014 at 11:13PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Want people to believe in your fake video? Shoot it vertically.

July 10, 2014 at 3:59PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Attention all passengers: Malfunctioning AT-AT walker causing boarding delays.

July 14, 2014 at 5:27AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM