The Rise of Skywalker: What was real and what was CGI in the Pasaana speeder chase

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It’s an increasingly common question in regards to what’s seen onscreen in Star Wars – what’s ‘real’ and what’s CGI. ILM VFX production visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, ILM visual effects supervisor Patrick Tubach and special effects supervisor Dominic Tuohy get granular on what’s a practical effect and what was created in a computer for The Rise of Skywalker.

Roger Guyett (ILM VFX production visual effects supervisor): The Third Floor previs’d beats and those beats allowed us to do two things. One, to design a stage, an exterior greenscreen stage. We wanted to photograph the sequence in the Jordan light. Because if you can get somebody, an actor like Daisy, on a rig that’s moving like a speeder in the right light with a whole bunch of wind blowing at her, the shot is going to have more chance of success.

Dominic Tuohy (special effects supervisor): We also built practical speeders which were four wheel drive, V8 engine, 500 brake horsepower. They’re like Dakar rally vehicles, basically, which gave us the scope to be able to drive on the Jordan sand. Obviously we could never reach the speeds that we wanted, but what it gave us was the opportunity to do the start and the end of the journey. When they first steal the speeders, those are practical, and they drive away, and then we’re on the motion base.

Then when they come flying off, that was a practical rig as well. It’s a captive track rail system with the speeder on there and it’s using a pneumatic cylinder to pivot the front. And we had three stunt performers on it and we threw them through the air for real. They were on a pick point on a cable and you get that natural movement and you get speed – you get all of that.

Patrick Tubach (ILM visual effects supervisor): We were given the freedom to have a unit – we called it the Visual Unit – which was our environment team, plus myself, and we had different tools that we used. We had drones that we used that we could photograph actual plates with. And of course the drones didn’t go quite as fast as you could go with say a helicopter so we did some helicopter plates as well and shot those. And then we also had drones that we used for still photography that would go into a canyon area and we’d just go through and just fire off hundreds and hundreds of photographs of an area.

The Rise of Skywalker: Expanded Edition (Star Wars)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Carson, Rae (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 03/17/2020 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)