In creating the visual effects for The Force Awakens we sought to capture the feeling of the original trilogy and that meant lots of practical creatures and effects and better use of sets and locations. That’s in the DNA of the original films but visual effects supervisor and second unit director Roger Guyett also didn’t want to overlook the huge contribution contemporary technology could make. To get the tone right, we tried to create a practical foundation for all the digital visual effects work that would follow. For a movie like The Force Awakens, there are a lot of effects shots – roughly 2,100 in fact – so the trick was trying to make them all feel as integrated as possible – truly blurring the line between the practical and digital.
Our effects team in San Francisco, Singapore, Vancouver, and London worked tirelessly on seamlessly integrating the various animated performances for characters such as Maz, Snoke, BB-8, and the Rathtars, to the Lightsaber fights, incredible environments, and the array of other visual effects into the film. The crew took great pains to recreate each of the ships in the film. From the storied Millennium Falcon to the X-wings, and T.I.E. Fighters, we pored over reference photographs and visited the archives where the original ILM shooting models are kept to get precise measurements, color scans and the like to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of the new versions.