How the coaxium explosion in Solo: A Star Wars Story was created

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It doesn’t matter how many more Star Wars films are released between now and the time I permanently visit the old spacers home, I’m never going to get bored of saying how much I love Solo: A Star Wars Story. From its cast and crew to the design, that incredible score and the ingenuity of ILM’s Oscar nominated visual effects, it’s a film that gets better and better with every viewing, and here we are allowed a look behind the curtain with Julian Foddy as he explains just how the exploding conveyex carriage filled with coaxium was created.

Gizmodo take a look at this stunning effect.

Through the lens of their high-speed cameras, YouTube’s the Slow Mo Guys (Gavin Free and Dan Gruchy) have proven time and time again that everything is cooler in slow motion, particularly when explosions are involved. Back in 2016 they filmed firecrackers exploding in a fish tank, which produced an underwater bubble that appeared to instead implode on itself.

That slow motion footage inspired artists at Industrial Light & Magic who needed to blow a giant mountain to bits, but worried that the use of traditional explosives on miniature models would look too fake. Given the film takes place in a far away galaxy full of unique weaponry, the visual effects team 3D-printed a miniature replica of a mountain, submerged it under water, bombarded it with small explosives, and then filmed the results at 120,000 frames per second.

A brief story, at the press screening of Solo in London back in May I was sat next to a young couple, and when the film finished the lady leaned across and asked me why I was at the screening. I explained who I was and what I did and asked her the same. Before she answered, she asked if I liked this effect, the coaxium explosion. I rank it alongside the seismic charge from Attack of the Clones as the most inventive and impressive explosions in all of Star Wars, and told her so. She smiled and explained that she works for ILM and spent 12 months working on that effect sequence. To my shame I never got her name, so if you’re reading this – bravo!

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Industrial Light & Magic Presents: Making Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Hardcover Book
  • Bredow, Rob (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 04/16/2019 (Publication Date) - Harry N. Abrams (Publisher)