'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Creatures Were Made with Impressive Practical Effects

Tuesday, 28 November 2017 - 7:24PM
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Tuesday, 28 November 2017 - 7:24PM
'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Creatures Were Made with Impressive Practical Effects
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Lucasfilm/Disney
One of the more striking new creatures that will appear in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, perhaps even more eye-catching than those porgs which we're all expected to fall in love with, are the crystal foxes that appear on what looks like this movie's equivalent of Hoth - although this new planet Crait is covered in salt, not with snow.

Where a lot of other local fauna in Star Wars is often gross, creepy, scary, or otherwise ugly, the crystal foxes are a rare case of an utterly beautiful animal that gets caught up in the ongoing wars between sentient life forms as they wrestle for control of the galaxy. A new short behind-the-scenes video details the creation of these practical puppets, and they're absolutely gorgeous to behold in motion.

What's particularly interesting is that, while the crystal fox - known as a "Vulptex" - that appears in the trailer is almost certainly fully CGI, the movie will actually feature fully animatronic puppets that will create the crystal foxes using practical effects. These will be used alongside digital versions of the creature in order to make them as believable as possible.

Check out the behind-the-scenes video below:



One of the problems of modern filmmaking is just how easy it is to create passable effects on computer. Any director or producer who is lazy enough will opt for the relatively easy method of creating fantastic creatures, by waving their hands and announcing that this problem will simply have to be solved by the digital effects team in post-production.

It's invariably clear when this kind of lazy filmmaking is attempted, not least because it doesn't mean that the process is actually any simpler. Animators can't simply press a button and create flawless CGI characters that work within a given shot, so the only way to ensure that an effect actually blends into the scene, even if it's created digitally, is to plan everything meticulously from day one.

With the new Star Wars movies in general, it's clear that Lucasfilm is steering away from the lazy greenscreen work that the studio produced under its previous commander in chief. There's been a notable focus on live action animatronics, costumes, and sets, in order to try and make these new movies feel as much like the Original Trilogy as possible. To a certain extent, this almost feels like a reaction to the prequels, lambasted as they were for overusing digital effects in lieu of actually displaying any tangible visuals.

via GIPHY



The crystal foxes show just how perfect practical technology can look on-screen. We're a long way from the time when the best creature in the Star Wars universe was just a guy in a literal Halloween devil mask, and these creatures are even more complex than the relatively believable puppet that is Jedi Master Yoda.

Presumably, these foxes must play a larger role in the story than simply appearing in the single shot we've seen in the trailer - otherwise there wouldn't be a need to create expressive puppets that function best when staying still. These may be The Last Jedi's answer to tauntauns; benign creatures that are relevant to the plot without being quite as big and scary as, say, the Wampas.

Alternatively, Rian Johnson might have found a more unique role for the silver foxes. At this stage it seems like we're unlikely to get any more clarity before the movie arrives. One thing is certain: these puppets are absolutely gorgeous, and, like other impressive visual effects creations in recent history, they show just how lifelike practical effects can be in movies when directors don't try to take shortcuts.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out on December 15, 2017.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
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