Oscars: How VFX Pros Brought a 'Star Wars' Star Back to Life

8:30 AM 2/10/2017

by Carolyn Giardina

The visual effects gurus behind 'Rogue One,' 'Deepwater Horizon,' 'Doctor Strange' and more nominated films dish on how they conjured the unbelievable.

'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'
'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'
Courtesy of Disney
  • 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'

    John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould

    Courtesy of Disney

    To bring the late Peter Cushing back to life, Guy Henry delivered a performance captured by a new rig with infrared HD cameras. ILM applied the performance to a digital version of Cushing playing Tarkin that was placed in the final shot.

  • 'Deepwater Horizon'

    Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton

    Courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic

    The actors in the rescue craft were photographed in an inlet with a 30-by-40-foot LED wall for the correct lighting. In post, nearly everything else was replaced digitally, and a CG Deepwater Horizon rig, water, fire, smoke and night sky were added.

  • 'Doctor Strange'

    Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould

    Courtesy of Disney

    The end of the kaleidoscopic fight in New York was shot on a greenscreen stage in London. With the exception of Tilda Swinton, everything else — the background, other characters and magic effects — was created with computer graphics.

  • 'The Jungle Book'

    Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon

    Courtesy of Disney

    Shot entirely on a bluescreen stage, the movie's only live action is Mowgli (Neel Sethi) and whatever small piece of set he stood or climbed on. The rest is all photo-real CG jungle. "We chose to make it feel naturalistic, like we were shooting a regular movie," says Legato.

  • 'Kubo and the Two Strings'

    Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff

    Courtesy of The PR Kitchen

    The boat is stop-motion, and the sea is CG, but to get the look right, the artists started by creating an in-camera water system for reference. "Saito patterning in Japanese wood block printing is presented in all of the effects work," says VFX supervisor Emerson.