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The latest edition of Juntaro Nabe’s Hollywood VFX Report talks to ILM lead modeller Masa Narita about remodelling the Millennium Falcon for Solo: A Star Wars Story and the challenges it presented.

Q:The Falcon model in SOLO is dated 10 years before Episode 4. How is the design different from other versions of the Falcon in the Star Wars timeline?

Masa:The Falcon from the trilogy series is the fastest ship in the galaxy but is kind of old, rugged, and full of junk. In SOLO, the owner of the Falcon is Lando and not Solo. So the design concept of the Falcon should represent the owner’s personality, which is the complete opposite of Han. That meant that the Lando Falcon would be the most beautiful spaceship in the galaxy, with cool blue stripes on a sleek body.

The Lando Falcon was designed by Lucasfilm Design Supervisor James Clyne. He built a concept maquette along with other concept arts. He used an MPC 1/72 scale plastic model kit as a start.

In the trilogy series, there are two different Falcon models. The first five-foot model was created for Episode 4, and the other three-foot model for Episode 5. Because the five-foot model was too big for use in the live action stage shoot, they made a three-foot model in the sequel.

But these two models were not the same in proportion. The five-foot model, specifically the curvature of the dish that makes the main body of the spaceship, is thicker than the three-foot model. Generally speaking, when we talk about the Falcon, it is referring to the five-foot model. So in Episode 7, we decided to make a CGI Falcon based on the five-foot model. However, the MPC model was designed based on the three-foot model.

We needed to physically put the Han Falcon into the Lando Falcon. Because the Lando Falcon concept maquette was based off the MPC model, it was too thin, making it difficult to put the thicker Han Falcon inside. Since the directors really liked the slim Falcon concept, I adjusted the Lando Falcon shape by making it a little bit thicker, and also made the episode 7 CGI Falcon smaller in height. It really worked – we were able to create a Lando Falcon with a sleek design.