5 Times Star Wars Special Effects Fooled You

From the iconic and now historic beginnings of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in 1977, the Star Wars saga (available on Disney+) distinguished itself by marking a turning point in cinema. Not just as a space opera that has given considerable brilliance in terms of plot and depth to the genre. Also as a journey through the possibilities of practical effects, and more digital parties, telling stories of great significance. George Lucas was a pioneer in analyzing the broader idea of ​​creating possible universes, renewing techniques and creating a unique visual section.

Also by making all the know-how behind the camera part of a huge interest in their stories. Star Wars has managed to assume that the burden of spectacularity in terms of cinematography is at the same time a liability. It’s not just about better visual effects. Or in any case, to make more striking and astonishing those who are part of more elaborate elements in their stories. George Lucas’ goal has always been to create a universe in which history carries the most weight. And that this is also part of an amazing image story.

And he succeeded most of the time. The most incredible? What a good part of the most amazing effects in the Star Wars saga are the result of intricate craftsmanship. A learning journey – often in innovations created especially for a particular film – that took the saga to a new approach. With stories becoming more adult and complex, the visual section has become a close look at context. At the same time as a hallmark of the franchise and its possible future legacy.

We tell you about the five times Star Wars wowed the world with special effects. From models to camera tricks. Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away has a special sense of wonder and good taste. The one that also develops a new sense of the cinematographic spectacle in high mass cinema. A combination that George Lucas has always defended.

The journey for the filming of the first major film in the Star Wars saga was long and arduous. By the time the film began shooting, George Lucas had been writing the script for over a decade and imagining the worlds of its vast mythology. While still a student, the future director planned detail by detail the perception of the appearance of his characters, as well as ships, weapons and even robots. For young Lucas, it was particularly interesting that every detail came to the screen with as realistic as possible.

With so much information to bear, the battle with executives and producers has been uphill and often thankless. In the 1970s there was still no visual technology capable of delivering the level of realism that Lucas envisioned. It was therefore necessary to invent techniques on the fly to show completely realistic scenarios in impossible conditions. As well innovate in the sense of using models to represent spaceflight or even the perception of deep space.

The solution for George Lucas and cinematographer Gilbert Taylor was to create realistic models with unknown details. On the other hand, special effects supervisors Richard Edlund and John Dykstra had to find a way to reinvent the deep space ideal. To do this, they made aesthetic decisions with production designer John Berry.

The team decided to use flat paint, camerawork, and a general focus on empty space to create an overall feeling of uncanny space. Taylor’s early attempts were to use forced perspective and tight angles. Both techniques gave the ships an impression of considerable size. The whole thing, as well as the lighting — made with natural light, which highlighted shadows and details — to then integrate the scene into a whole in the empty space.

As if the above were not enough,Explosions that mimic the effect outside of gravity have been performed in a study and under controlled conditions. Bursts that were recorded at two speeds and under the condition of capturing their detail on the model. Most of the time, the work ended up destroyed and the special effects team recorded its destruction at half the usual speed. The effect created the familiar feeling of weightlessness in movies.

The Impossible Scenarios in The Empire Strikes Back

With Star Wars: Episode IV become a mass success, the pressure on technological innovation in the sequel was considerable. For The Empire Strikes Back, Edlund innovated with a “motion” controlled camera to achieve frames per minute. The reason? The movie has a fair amount of deep space footage. So this time, the model’s sense of scale was combined with the visual experience of the camera.

For Lucas and the special effects team, the idea was to make the big battles and confrontations feel like made with known technology. The feeling that ships were not innovations but something in common use. So the moves and how to equip them should be so simple – or seem so – that one can assume it was a known fact. The cabins and interior spaces of the ships had to have small manufacturing issues to give the impression that they had already been used. The general feeling was that these were vehicles used frequently and above all for several reasons at the same time.

The film’s technical team spent a lot of time getting every place inside the ships feels familiar. Or at least, part of a design that eventually took hold across the universe. An overview of the small details that made the film such a big event.

Return of the Jedi and the Distortion of Reality

Long before special effects, the use of computers and advanced optical systems, George Lucas found a way to distort reality in his movies. Do it so that it can coincide with the feeling that everything was happening in the realm of a type of technology that is not very comprehensible by the viewer’s standards.

On this occasion, Edlund worked on the idea that time and speed in high-tech ships are perceived differently. He therefore had the idea of ​​using hyper-controlled cameras that would allow captures at lower speeds than usual. Previously, it had been used upside down or in a different number of frames to mimic the sense of zero gravity. But this time it had to be a type of recording at such a slow speed that it created the feeling of time variation.

It had to be a type of recording at such a slow speed that it would have created the sensation of temporal variation.

The effect was used in the now classic Forest of Endor sequence, in which Leia, Luke, and Hans glide through the trees. The speed between the targets (the trees, the characters, and the rest of the production) was completely different from each other. And in fact, the sequences were filmed separately. At the end, was unified in a single take that made history.

Also in the Forest of Endor sequence, steadicam or mobile camera support was used for the first time in a major production. Its creator Garrett Brown used a rudimentary device that was to become a fundamental piece of cinema. And he did it to run the length of the set while shooting less than one frame per second. The technical prowess allowed the sensation of “blurred” vision of the passage through the trees.

Rogue One and its old Star Wars clichés interspersed

Gareth Edwards’ film is one of the great additions to the Star Wars saga and also high-tech special effects design. But as odd as it may sound, it’s not its digital advancements that stand out the most. In reality, the film which recounts the exploits of a group of rebels against the Empire is full of good practical effects.

One of the best known is the way the production team intertwines old shots with those from the film. In several of the aerial battle scenes, the director used montages from the original films of the saga. So at various times, in fact, you can see the original actors and fragments of the original film. The decision helped create the general feeling that the plot took place in a different time than any known story. And that she was also the heir to a long cinematographic tradition.

And although the Android K-2SO is a combination of handmade technology and digital effects, most of his moves were done through realistic costumes. To remember? The entire shot of Vader’s attack was done with direct on-character motion capture. A tribute to one of the emblematic figures of the saga.

The Mandalorian and its large unreal landscapes

Series The Mandalorian from Disney+ stunned a good chunk of fans for capturing the essence of Star Wars. Also because its visual section has successfully referenced a good part of the saga. As if that weren’t enough, he used a sort of understated aesthetic that echoed Lucas’ immediate references when creating his characters. To know: the great Italian westerns and the Japanese epics about honor and loyalty.

But also, The Mandalorian it was distinguished by its grandiose and overwhelming landscapes. Which were, in fact, almost entirely wrong. More than half of the series was recorded using background images projected onto gigantic LED screens six meters high and 23 meters in total diameter. To all the above, we must add its 270 degree curvature which allowed to surround the actors or the stage. It was a kind of radical innovation that got rid of green screens and adapted new technologies.

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To achieve the stunning level of detail that has won over fans and critics alike, the images to be used were projected through seven computers. For the integration of all possible plans, the Unreal Engine 4 graphics engine, from the Epic Games studio, was used.