Press "Enter" to skip to content

Month: January 2017

You’re a wonderful human being: re-visiting CG Jabba 20 years later

Illustration by Aidan Roberts.

You might have seen former ILM visual effects and animation supervisor Steve ‘Spaz’ Williams pop up on vfxblog quite a lot recently. That’s because he was involved in a number of seminal VFX films celebrating their various anniversaries of late, including Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park.

Williams was also involved in another landmark – and somewhat notorious – moment in visual effects, when George Lucas revisited his original Star Wars trilogy for the ‘Special Edition’ releases. In particular, Williams was asked to animate a digital Jabba the Hutt for a deleted scene from A New Hope when the gangster confronts Han Solo on Mos Eisley.

The scene had been shot for the 1977 release using a stand-in actor (Declan Mulholland) for Jabba, with plans to realise the sequence with a puppet or stop-motion character. But, as Williams recounts in this chat with vfxblog, it wasn’t until the ‘Special Editions’ – released 20 years ago this week – that Lucas felt he could take advantage of advancements ILM was making in CGI to complete the scene and have Jabba moving along the ground, unlike how audiences had previously witnessed the creature in Return of the Jedi.

Woh, that’s a lot of powerhouse VFX presentations in one room


Rogue One. The Jungle Book. Fantastic Beasts. Game of Thrones. Plus all the major Vancouver facilities at the careers fair. And an innovative Women in VFX session looking at how to get more women working in the industry.

That’s what you can see this year at Spark FX in Vancouver, which is happening Saturday 4th February at the Vancouver International Film Centre.

The presentations at Spark are even more impressive considering many of those films and shows are Oscar and VES nominated, and feature some of the top talent in VFX right now.

Careers fair at Spark FX.

I’m going to be there, too, moderating the Women in VFX panel, featuring artists and supervisors from Imageworks, Dneg and Image Engine.

Here’s how it works – head to the Spark FX site and click on Online Reservations. The sessions are generally $20 each. The Women in VFX session is free. I’d get in now because they tend to sell out pretty quickly.

Hope to see you there – please come say hi!

Rogue One’s Random Cam, and other previs fun


Now that we’ve all seen Rogue One five times and deconstructed the storyline, the characters and the visual effects, it’s fun to also consider how some of the iconic shots came to be. Of course, ILM and Lucasfilm’s art department crafted many of the incredible concepts, but some of the first shot designs were done by the previs team at The Third Floor.

The Third Floor also helped establish ways for visualizing and planning the shoot, and choreographed incredibly detailed scenes such as the third act battles, thanks in part to a tool called Random Cam. The Third Floor previs/postvis supervisor Barry Howell takes vfxblog through the work.