Skip to main content

Stunning Star Wars visual effects breakdown shows how Maz Kanata was brought to life

Stunning Star Wars visual effects breakdown shows how Maz Kanata was brought to life

Share this story

Much was made of The Force Awakens' return to practical effects after the overly-sanitized look of the prequel trilogy, but make no mistake: there's copious amount of computer generated visual effects in the film. The film's visual effects supervisor, Roger Guyett, says approximately 2,100 of the film’s 2,500 shots feature digital effects, and with the Oscars right around the corner, we're now getting a close look at some of the truly impressive work on display in Episode VII.

A four-minute video breakdown of CG shots in The Force Awakens has found its way online. As is typical for such videos, the shots are broken down to their raw footage and built back up piece by piece to show just how much work went into creating the action on screen.

Most of the video is concerned with Jakku and other aerial combat scenes, which are impressive, but the most eye-opening material reveals how Lupita Nyong'o's character, Maz Kanata, was created. We've all seen motion capture work before, but the digital distortion of Nyong'o's face into the distinctive Kanata is something to behold. That footage starts around the 2:50 mark.

In a separate interview from FXGuide with the ILM team that did most of the CG work in The Force Awakens, a few details about the filming process to bring Maz Kanata to life are revealed. Andy Serkis, who played Supreme Leader Snoke, helped Nyong'o get comfortable in the motion capture suit and keep the technology from getting in the way of her performance. The FXGuide interview is long, but the section on Kanata and other CG performances starts at the 14:33 mark. After you check that out, be sure to read our extensive interview with the minds behind the effects work in The Force Awakens.

Read next: I talked to the Oscar-nominated visual effects team behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Verge Video Archives: Inside ILM's secret Star Wars lab