VFX Guru Phil Tippett Brings Back an Iconic Moment for ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

     December 21, 2015

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Among the names of returning talent populating Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one pleased the see Phil Tippett. The VFX guru made a name for himself on films like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Jurassic Park, and, of course, the original Star Wars.

One of the most famous scenes involving his talents was the hologram chess set played by Chewbacca and C-3PO. This set makes a nostalgic reappearance in The Force Awakens, and a new featurette from Tippett Studios spotlights the revisitation of this classic moment.


Among the footage and photos featured in the video are behind-the-scenes photos of the holochess creation process from the original film. Animator Jon Berg remarks how surprised he was that this one moment received so much attention from the fans. On bringing this back for The Force Awakens, Tippett said:

We had to go out to the archives because they wanted the original chess set reconstructed. When we finished Star Wars, Jon Berg and I made a little plaque with, like, four of the characters that we gave to George [Lucas] and Chris [Morley] did photogrammetry on those.

“We just shot rotations,” Morley continued while footage of the set-up and photography played. Though 3D printing was also used to create some of the figures, the team went back to stop-motion animation to bring back the holochess. Watch the painstaking process towards the end of the video below.

“I think there’s a charm to the old way of doing it because you can relate to it,” said Dennis Muren of Industrial Light & Magic. “You can feel it, you can look at it, and there’s an amazement of something that is moving by itself, and that still has not been able to be duplicated in CGI.”


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Image via Tippett Studios

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