Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett says the aim of his team was to have Star Wars: The Force Awakens never feel like it was a “special effects movie.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens may not have made it in any of the major Oscar awards categories, but in the effects department, its win is probably the closest thing to a lock other that Leonardo DiCaprio winning for Best Actor. With that in mind, Deadline sat down with Second Unit Director and Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett, who oversaw all of the special effects in the runaway hit movie. Guyett, who is part of Industrial Light and Magic, also worked on Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. He credits the difference between those two movies in striking the balance between the old and new.
I think the innovation we had there was just coming at it from both sides, which was embracing the old school kind of approach of really going to locations, but then marrying that with the biggest technological advances that we could come up with.
Guyett says much of his work in the movie was based around that. The idea was to aim for an old school realism within the film “so it never felt like an effects movie.” A lot of that was achieved by what he called “Slight of hand.” Even characters like BB-8 where there was a real droid on hand, would pass from CGI to robot to CGI again in a single scene, and the goal was to make the rel and the fake blend together seamlessly.
It also allows all the other actors to react to him and understand his behavior. You’re not just saying, “Hey, we’re going to do BB-8 in post.” They can see him developing as a character in front of them, and anything that we can do to ground the actors in some sense of reality, we did do.
He also credits the advances in motion capture and the choice to do that instead of fully CGI characters, so that in scenes with Maz, the other actors were working with Lupita N’yongo, not a “ball on a stick” like they did with Jar-Jar. He admits keeps the secrets of the movie was difficult, especially around family but his best way was to keep his head down and just think of it as another job Because of that it took him by surprise when the trailers would produce waves of hysteria, and ticket websites crashed. After all, he was so focused on doing his best job, he kind of forget he was working on the most anticipated movie on the planet.