There’s an on-going joke that every time there’s a Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel at a convention, if you take a drink every time they chant “practical effects” you’ll end up with alcohol poisoning. Lucasfilm’s big talking point to win over jaded Star Wars fans is to trumpet the use of “practical effects” in The Force Awakens, when the movie is really filled with CGI.
JJ Abrams has said in the past that there’s an “enormous amount of CGI” in the movie, and back at Star Wars Celebration they carted out a real BB-8 when the version filmed in the movie wasn’t what they alluded to at the convention.
Today MakingStarWars.net has chimed in with details on how much CGI you’ll actually see in a movie that’s being promoted as a return to “practical effects”, and it’s a lot more than some people are hoping.
Be warned that there are some spoilers in MakingStarWars.net’s article, but here’s an example of how much CGI is being used in the movie:
“Ironically, the first shot in this â€œpractical effects movieâ€ is CGI. The lightsaber tumbling to the ground towards the savanna is entirely CGI. The second shot that is completely CGI is Kylo Renâ€™s ship heading for the Star Destroyer after failing to get the saber on Jakku. When the TIE fighters head for the Star Destroyers after the battle, thatâ€™s all CGI. In fact, most of the scenes in the film that are CGI are TIE fighters and Star Destroyers. (Thatâ€™s when it isnâ€™t the Falcon.) Spaceships and space shots.”
Again, the rest of the article has heavy SPOILERS involving the ending of the movie and specific characters, so tread carefully if you are afraid of knowing too much about The Force Awakens.
For most Star Wars fans who don’t have a problem with modern film making techniques, this revelation isn’t much of an issue. But for those who drank the “practical effects” Kool-Aid and truly believed that JJ Abrams and crew were only using 1976 film making techniques, it’s likely a harsh dose of reality.