Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Behind the scenes, VFX and more.
Oscar and BAFTA nominee Ben Morris, creative director of Industrial Light & Magic’s London Studio, was the overall visual effects supervisor for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Morris began his filmmaking career as a model maker in Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. He moved into computer graphics and became a lead CGI artist on the 2000 film Gladiator at Mill Film, and then a CG supervisor at Framestore for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. His first film as a visual effects supervisor was The Golden Compass. Morris took charge of ILM’s London studio in time to become a visual effects supervisor for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Question: Why do you think your colleagues voted for Star Wars: The Last Jedi to receive Oscar nominations for best visual effects?
Ben Morris: I think it was a great combination of a wonderful piece of storytelling and well-executed VFX work. People have commented on the overall photographic consistency of the shots. And, for such a familiar franchise, there were great new pieces of imagery that we created to tell Rian’s [director Johnson] story.
Question: How many studios worked on The Last Jedi?
All four ILM studios – London, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Singapore. Plus 10 third-party studios.
Question: How long did you work on the film?
Three years — from the end of 2014 until we delivered the last shot in mid-September 2017.
Question: How many visual effects shots did the film have?
Officially, about 1,850. There were also maybe 100 or 200 digital make-up and production fixes. There were beautiful shots without visual effects in Ireland and on numerous closed sets, like with Luke and Rey in the tree.
Question: How did you divide the work?
The great thing is that everyone wants to work on a Star Wars movie. London was the visual effects hub for the film. In London, we had Snoke, Maz, the fathiers, the space battles, the casino with the fathier chase and the lightsaber battle in Snoke’s throne room. San Francisco, supervised by Eddie Pasquarello, had the majority of the end of the film, and the end of the fathier chase — about 450 shots. They worked closely with Singapore, led by Alex Prichard. Dan Seddon, the VFX supervisor in Vancouver, got to work with our third-party collaborators in Canada. Vancouver did most of the Jedi Island, the Mega Destroyer, Holdo’s death, and interiors in the mega-hanger. They had a huge number of shots — 600 or 700. To be honest, I think everyone got a good, juicy piece of the film.
Question: Where were the ships built?
Most were built in London and shared across the ILM studios, where they were extended and detailed further as required. On Crait, the San Francisco and Singapore studios had the ski speeders and the new AT-M6s. We called them “gorilla walkers” because their subtle yet obvious silhouettes reminded us of a gorilla.
The bombers were built and used in London. Snoke’s Mega Destroyer went to Vancouver and Singapore, along with the big flagship resistance cruiser and medical frigate that runs out of fuel.
Here are some more interesting videos.