STAR WARS: EPISODE VII to Embrace Practical Effects in Combination with CG Says Kathleen Kennedy; John Williams Confirmed to Score New STAR WARS Trilogy

     July 29, 2013


Bits of news about Star Wars: Episode VII continue to trickle in, including the addition of composer John Williams and the rumor that Zac Efron and Ryan Gosling are being eyed for the film’s lead role.  Today’s news comes more on the technical side, as it addresses the use of practical and CG effects that will be on display in the new sequel.  It’s an understatement to say that fans were displeased with the over-reliance on CG creatures, characters and locations in the prequel trilogy, especially when said digital creations replaced practical fan-favorites in the original films.  Kathleen Kennedy recently spoke about the FX plans for Star Wars: Episode VII going forward and it sounds as if the production is well aware of the CG elephant in the room.  Hit the jump to see what she had to say.

kathleen-kennedyFrom Heat Vision comes news that Kennedy confirms a balance of practical and CG effects in the upcoming film.  In speaking to the crowd at Star Wars Celebration Europe, Kennedy said the following:

“The conversation we’re having all the time now about ‘Episode VII’ is how much CGI.  We’re looking at what the early Star Wars films did; they used real locations with special effects. So [for 'Episode VII'] we’re going to find some very cool locations, we’re going to end up using every single tool in the toolbox.”

She went on to say:

“I was amazed yesterday and looking at what the fans are doing,” referring to some of the presentations and displays of Celebration Europe. “Using model makers, using real droids, taking advantage of the artwork that you can touch and feel, we want to do that in combination with CG effects.”

Kennedy also confirmed Williams composing the score for the new trilogy, according to Heat Vision’s report.  The status of the film is still “in early pre-production stages, with Abrams and other writers at his Bad Robot production company still creating new characters for the movie.”  She finished by saying:

“We have the opportunity to create amazing new characters.  Story and character are all we’re talking about right now.”

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  • Tom P

    Great news. Everyone is happy.

    I hope soon we will know leading and suporting cast.

    • shill

      I ain’t happy at all, star wars with jj is a bad idea and already taints star wars. these will not be star wars movies.

      • Chris

        I’m not totally sure I agree, but the direction that he took with Star Trek Into Darkness makes me very leery. That film disintegrated into a string of random overwrought action scenes. Star Wars at its best has always been very balanced. Sure it’s known for some legendary action sequences but they’re given weight by the fact that Lucas (in his early days at least) took the time to lay the groundwork. I didn’t care what happened to anyone in Star Trek Into Darkness. I pray that’s not what happens in Star Wars VII.

        I must say they really missed the boat when they didn’t hire Joss Whedon for the job. Serenity proved that he was perhaps even better at finding that balance than George Lucas ever was. Balancing emotional with visceral has never been Abrams strong suite.

    • Esteban Martinez

      Hello? Zac Efron might be cast?
      Unless you want Star Wars Musical…

  • sense11

    Happy to hear this From Kennedy.

    Practical Effects, Great Makeup & Costume design, real locations & Animatronics will go a long way to making this new trilogy successful

    • reasonable

      no….it won’t.

      You can have great makeup and practical effects and costume design, real locations and animatronics,

      but the movie is still going to be ABYSMAL with the hack jj involved.

  • Aaron Sullivan

    It was a given with JJ that he’d want to do a lot of practical effects. He’s a backyard filmmaker at heart. It’s good to hear it from the producer. :)

    • the truth

      having jj involved means it will be a dreck of a mess. His star trek remakes are proof he is a hack and does crappy movies.

      • Aaron Sullivan

        JJ Abrams isn’t perfect but I think he’s a great match for Star Wars, myself. I enjoyed his Star Trek films quite a bit though there were a couple of key choices I wish he and his crew hadn’t made in Into Darkness. Most of the hate comes from people who think he’s ruined the Star Trek they loved, but Star Trek was basically dead and it seems headed in a good direction with promises of the “5 year mission” beginning and solid characterizations to build on.

        Nice trolling through the whole thread under different names, though. lol. That’s some REAL hate, right there. Don’t give in to the Dark Side, man.

  • Lance

    Brilliant decision by Kathleen. Part of what made the original series so amazing is the world was so detailed and lived-in you had no choice but to accept it was real.

    That can’t happen with CGI alone.

    • go to hell jj

      kathleen made a mistake hiring the turd jj abrahms. disney made many mistakes by hiring the hack jj, by closing down Lucasarts, by cancelling ‘The Clone Wars’, by cancelling the 3D versions of the Star 2-6 movies, by cancelleing 1313 and Boba Fett and Bounty Hunter, Battlefront 3 and Knights of the old republic 3 games and so many other bad decisions!

  • rhizomeman

    “we want to do that in combination with CG effects” – call me a pessimist, but to me that means 90% cgi. I just don’t see a lot of practical/model effects happening with Star Wars, or any other big budget movie ever again.

    • Northern Star

      Well you may be wrong because according to sources at ILM, they’ve already started work on the big visual effect setpieces for Episode VII and are currently engaged in the biggest scale model building program since ‘Return of the Jedi’… all involved seem to be learning lessons from the prequel debacle and are determined to get it right this time out!

      • rhizomeman

        Hopefully, but coming from ILM I wouldn’t count on it.

      • Chris

        I hope they can get back to their roots. I just wonder if there are enough people left in the company who remember where the roots are. It’s been over 35 years since Star Wars first revolutionized special effects. How many of the people involved with that film are even still working and not lying on a beach somewhere sipping blue milk?

      • ravennome

        Well the question is will they just outsource to Kerner Optical ( they were ILM model shot before the practical model shop shut down and was spun off in 2006.) or will they do an in house division with Kerner backing them up. More importantly will Lorne Peterson be in charge of the model making process?

  • TwiceBorn

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • rhizomeman

      Exactly – I would LOVE to be proved wrong. The era of really experimental, wondrous, mind-boggling “how did they do that?” effects seem to be lost. Keep in mind the Star Wars effects were VERY experimental and diverse for the time.

      None of this:

      Suit: “Ok, here is your 3 month pre-production window, here are your actors shots, put in some really cool looking stuff with your fancy computers and we’ll (I’ll) all make a lot of money”

      CG supervisor: “Alright staff, lets throw in some monsters in the background and a few ships flying overhead – and make it quick, my wife and I are meeting friends for dinner and babysitters ain’t cheap”

  • Darth Sidious

    I can live with this news. Williams and now more practical effects, keep going!

    • jj is an ass hole

      no, with jj still involved, it is going to be horrendous. Someone slit jj abrahms throat and everyone associated with jj the shit head, and the people at disney, hell even Kathleen Kennedy’s throat!

  • Strong Enough

    they are still writing it? better hurry up lol.

  • Dingo

    This is them feebly apologizing. They sucked and they knew it. Time to move on.

  • rhizomeman

    Here is something specific. What ever happened to rear projection effects?? Beautifully done in blade runner (check out deckard in the spinner near the beginning) and Aliens (check out the climax at the end). Such a great realistic looking effect no one seems to use anymore.

    • MGS

      Oblivion did Front-Projection Backgrounds for the Sky-Tower-Set. Storywise it was so-so but visually it was stunning – especially the Tower-Scenes.
      Maybe we’ll see a return to a more practical approach to FX in movies… but as you said – for suits only the bottom-lin on their balancing-sheets count…

      • Nathan

        It’s unfair to call Kathleen Kennedy a “suit”, but there are other people to be cautious about.

      • MGS

        I didn’t mean Kennedy per se – she has a great track record and seems to be very artist-friendly – but I’m definetly looking at Warners…

      • rhizomeman

        Yea, I wasn’t calling Kathleen a suit – she seems pretty friendly and down to earth. But there are MANY suits involved in this production.

  • tarek

    just keep Lucas away from this project and it will be a cool movie.

    Practical effects and real locations are the main factors that made succesful the original saga.

  • JohnHWatson

    Guys, she’s not talking about models instead of CGI for spaceships etc. She’s talking about going to locations and merely augmenting them with CG instead of doing it all green screen. So for the actual FX, there might be an occasional model, like Weta does, but that’s all.

    Also, I REALLLLLLY hope they don’t have big names in the leads. Get some unknowns (or little-knowns) and save the names for supporting roles like the original series did.

    But really, none of this– practical vs. CG, celebrity stars etc.– matters if the screenplay sucks, as it did in the prequels. (Not that the original series had the greatest screenplays ever written, but they were night and day better than the ones for the prequels

  • G. Jardoness

    The issue is ‘not’ practical versus digital effects. But whether the filmmaker allows ‘any’ affect to be a substitute for a story. Characters we care about. Mr. Lucas defined that aspect of the industry, and was the first to suffer from its own success. The believe that ‘If one is good, a thousand must be great!’. Instead, as a result, we are constantly bombarded by a seizure-inducing orgy of images, spliced-together in a meaningless, mind-numbing, 2 hour long highlight reel. But Mr. Lucas is not solely to blame; Energy-drink-junkies, gamer-fanatics, and fanboys — take a good look in the mirror, and reconsider your own attention-span.

  • ickles

    As long as Abrams is attached, there is no hope for this movie.

  • AccursedArachnid

    Looks like this is headed in the right direction. Now if JJ could cut down on the lens flares…

  • Moby85

    “…Story and character are all we’re talking about right now.”

    It’s about damn time.

  • Daniel Gonzalez

    i dont give 2 shits about the effects i want a good movie

  • Chris

    Please no to Zack Effin’. Ryan Gosling? I could get behind that. He’s turned out to be a great actor. Please yes to practical effects. I would be thrilled if they went with a true retro look, with CG enhanced model space ships instead of the straight digital of the prequel trilogy. I think it’s the best of both worlds.

    But seriously, Zack? No thanks. Why not just recast Hayden Christensen and kill the franchise once and for all.

  • Ciccio

    please no zac efron, im cool with ryan gosling because hes actually a good actor and has made serious movies

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  • truswfan

    the prequels had AMAZING cgi
    i am sorry but CGI yoda is far superior to puppet yoda
    i would feel embarassed to watch a NEW movie with puppet yoda in 2014
    at the time puppet yoda was all they could afford, if cgi was more accessible back then, you better BELIEVE they would have gone for the cgi yoda they use now
    im sorry but nostalgia freaks are making this movie worse, keep those fake puppets in the 80′s please