How “Star Wars” Transforms Actors Into CG Characters [VIDEO]

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" CG characters and vehicles.

The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams made a conscious effort to use some “old school” filmmaking tactics for the latest adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Of course, there were plenty of scenes in Episode VII that required Abrams to take advantage of the top-of-the-line visual effects at his disposal. For example, the many spaceships and aliens in the Star Wars universe.

Blending together the computer-generated characters and crafts of Star Wars with real live actors is a lofty task. Audiences don’t usually get to see the process of bringing these key parts of a film to life, but fortunately for Star Wars fans, IAMAG and FXGuide have shared some exclusive footage that demonstrates how CG visuals were designed and worked into the film. The special-effects breakdown includes ships like the Millennium Falcon, the BB8 droid, and alien bar owner Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o).

While you would expect a VFX breakdown of The Force Awakens to include Lupita Nyong’o doing a performance in motion-capture gear, there are other small scenes that you might be surprised to see utilizing modern CG. Even the desert landscapes of Tatooine require a moderate amount of VFX. In total, animation supervisor Paul Kavanagh estimates that around 2,100 VFX shots were captured during the course of production.

Watch the visual breakdown of the CG used in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the video above. For a more detailed account of Episode VII‘s visual effects, check out the interviews in the feature below.


Photo Credit: Lucas Film LTD.

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Nate Santos

A born and bred New Yorker, Nate was raised on '90s hip-hop and AND1 streetball mixtapes. In his early college years, he began writing for music blogs and YRB Magazine, while working one of the scummiest jobs known to man, mobile phone sales. He later joined The SOURCE as a Contributing Editor for the print magazine and He has written for XXL magazine, and, among other media outlets. On occasion, he still loses sleep over Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals. He often copes with the stress of being a lifelong Knicks fan by adding to his sizable sneaker collection or watching a George Carlin stand-up special.