July 11, 2015

New 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' BTS Clip Shows Off Massive Sets & Practical Effects

Star Wars- The Force Awakens - Comic-Con 2015 Reel (1)-2.jpeg
While we're likely going to be overloaded with Star Wars films in the next few years, anticipation is ramping up for the J.J. Abrams helmed Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens.

During Comic Con, a brand new behind the scenes video was shown to fans, revealing quite a few impressive sets and practical effects used throughout the film:

And if you somehow missed the extended teaser trailer, or just want to watch again, here it is:

Abrams has said mostly what fans have wanted to hear going into the making of the first Star Wars film in 10 years, including deciding to shoot on 35mm, and an emphasis on practical effects in addition to what will obviously be quite of bit of CGI:

"It's Star Wars," continued Abrams, "there'll be an endless number of effects that'll be done, of course. But we needed to set a standard. You wanted it to be legitimate. Building as much as we could was a mandate."

"Even before ILM [Industrial Light and Magic] gets started, you can watch the movie and see what it is."

This isn't to say that anything is wrong with effects that are computer generated, but one major complaint about the earlier prequels was an over-reliance on CGI sets and characters (especially in Episodes II and III). Not only that, but George Lucas decided to shoot the last two prequels with early 24p Sony F900 series 1080p cameras, a far cry from the beautiful digital imagery created by cameras like the ARRI ALEXA, and further alienating some passionate fans of the original films.* Abrams, on the other hand, has chosen to stick with 35mm and IMAX for the new movie. Combined with anamorphic lenses, shooting on film seems to be grounding the look of The Force Awakens in a way that brings us back nostalgically to Episodes IV, V, and VI.

Whether or not this approach will help make this a good film is a whole other question, but it's certainly looking a bit more grown-up than the most recent films. The best news of all, however, is the fact that the actors involved have spoken highly of the script written by Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote Empire and Jedi).

We'll find out either way when the film is released this December — though there will supposedly be a lot more footage coming our way before then.     

*It's probably worth adding that I don't think the prequels are as bad as they are made out to be, and they are terrific at being movies aimed at a younger audience. A few casting choices and a few rewritten lines would have made a significant difference all other things being equal.

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15 Comments

"I don't think the prequels are as bad as they are made out to be, and they are terrific at being movies aimed at a younger audience. A few casting choices and a few rewritten lines would have made a significant difference all other things being equal."

Ha ha! That's funny. I suppose I should have explained to the audiences that watched my movie(s) all the mistakes I made so they could be more forgiving?

And, man, casting is one of the biggest choices in film making. It's huge.

Besides, the end result is the end result: "Hey, that filet mignon steak wouldn't have been so bad if the chef didn't burn it!" If it's ruined it's ruined.

July 11, 2015 at 1:59PM

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I think the person who decided CGI was the cause of modern film's problems should be publically hung, drawn and quartered...
CGI and practical effects are just buzzwords the internet uses without actually realising how they effect films. Yes, it's true, an overblown focus on CGI in a film will negatively impact it, but that's not because CG is bad, it's because the creation of it distracted from the creation of what really matters, namely the story and telling it properly.
The internet seems to think practical effects are magically going to save this from happening, but wouldn't an overblown focus on practical effects have the same distracting effect on production as CGI?
I just think it's all buzzwords and should all be largely ignored. I mean, yeah practical effects look amazing, but so did CGI when it first started being used. But now it's common it ceases to wow us and distract us from the film's flaws like it used to. Same thing will happen with practical effects, if it takes off again.
That said those practical effects on Star Wars are looking freaking awesome :D

July 11, 2015 at 6:38PM

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Not gonna lie... this made me shed a tear. As a lifelong Star Wars fan and a kid who grew up awestruck by the behind-the-scenes materials on the original trilogy... this is just a dream come true, to see it all happening again. I cannot WAIT for this goddamn movie.

July 11, 2015 at 8:33PM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
2241

Looks good so far. So glad he's shooting film. Wishful thinking- if he used 70mm.
Can't wait for this.

July 11, 2015 at 10:09PM

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Vincent Gortho
none
949

I'm 43 I'm a long time fan too. And I liked the prequels!!

I think its a misconception that CGI was at fault with the prequels. Something was off but it wasn't that.

To me the problem was Ewan McGregor playing Obi-Wan. His accent and demeanour was off. Too posh, too soft, not lively and not at all real. That had a follow on effect that was hard to get over.

Keep in mind there were decades of high expectations and it wouldn't matter what Lucas did next it would never live up to the hype.

But I am grateful for a lot that we got from the prequels.

Seeing Boba-Fet, Podracing and Darth Maul!! :)

July 12, 2015 at 4:53AM

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Hmmm... and I'm here thinking that Ewan McGregor was least of the prequels' problems.

July 13, 2015 at 1:50AM

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Isaiah Corey
Director of Photography
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You're right, CGI was not the problem with the prequels. The movies could have been entirely computer animated for all I care (the Clone Wars animated series is far better than the prequels).

The problem was also not Ewan McGregor however. The problem was the shitty lines from the shitty script of the shitty story that McGregor had to try to deliver. Terrible, terrible script. I have never once had someone be able to explain the plot of the Phantom Menace to me, probably because it is an incoherent, nonsensical movie. Attack of the Clones is not any better. Revenge of the Sith is not quite as incoherent but still highly questionable and, given its confusing foundation, who cares by that point?

Screenwriting 101: don't make a one movie story three movies long. Anakin Skywalker's poorly done character arc would be more suitable for one movie than three, and then the next two movies (if they have to be made) could be spent exploring the results of his turn to the Dark Side (although I see no reason why the prequels should have focused on Anakin Skywalker at all).

July 13, 2015 at 9:40AM

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double

July 13, 2015 at 9:40AM, Edited July 13, 9:40AM

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Agreed, story (or lack thereof) and script, were the biggest problems with prequels. He would have gotten away with everything else if those elements had been as strong as the original trilogy.

Very excited by Episode VII, I just hope they don't think because they're using practical effects again the film will be good. Fantastic to hear Lawrence Kasdan is involved in the writing.

July 16, 2015 at 7:23AM

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James Fisher
Videographer
159

double

July 16, 2015 at 7:23AM, Edited July 16, 7:24AM

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James Fisher
Videographer
159

Ewan McGregor???? You nuts? Then I`ll toss in an even more hilarious one: The movies sucked because of those red dots on Portman`s cheeks. If they were blue everything would be perfect.

All three new Star Wars movies were complete crap, story wise and visually. Alex Rollinson`s comment was spot on - the stories sucked balls.

July 13, 2015 at 12:34PM

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Gerard M.
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Anyone else notice the 172.8 shutter angle being used on every shot?

July 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

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yes

July 13, 2015 at 12:31PM, Edited July 13, 12:31PM

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Gerard M.
1201

Whatever practical masks they use better be designed so that they can show expression and not just a lip moving up and down like those terrible leaders of the Separatists in Ep 1 or that terrible young Yoda puppet. There is nothing wrong with CG when its done properly. Just look at Jurassic World. Tell me those Raptors weren't perfect. Or ANYTHING from District 9.

July 18, 2015 at 7:58PM

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Josh.R
Motion Designer/Predator
785

Cant wait to the Movie. :)

July 28, 2015 at 3:14PM

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Cathy Danneberg
Filmmaker, Editor, Designer, VFX
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