The original Star Wars trilogy pushed visual effects to heights previously unimaginable, with George Lucas again demonstrating the advancement in visual effects technology 20 years later when he created the prequel trilogy. The Last Jedi production designer Rick Heinrichs recently shared that, when Lucas visited the set of the upcoming film, he questioned why the production team went through the effort of creating what could have been accomplished with computers.
“We went into Star Wars saying we’re going to do matte paintings and we’re going to be hanging miniatures," Heinrichs told The Hollywood Reporter. "That’s the way we’re going to do this cause that’s what George would want. And of course George visited and he’s like, ‘Why are you building all these sets?’ ‘Well, because that’s what you like, isn’t it?’ He’s a cranky guy but his point is that for the big stuff, obviously planets, spaceships flying, when you’re not close enough to see actors in it, there isn’t much point anymore in actually building something.”
One of the biggest issues fans took with Lucas' prequel trilogy was the emphasis of CGI as opposed to sets and practical visual effects. Both Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson and The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams had to find the balance between utilizing modern technology with traditional filmmaking methods to appease fans.
Another reason Lucas may have been surprised by the sets was due to the sheer volume of sets, with Johnson's initial concept surpassing even Heinrichs' expectations.
"The original script had about 160 sets in it, a ridiculous amount of sets. I didn’t say that to Rian
The production ultimately trimmed
"The truth is we ended up combining things and trying to be smart about how we’re going to do it," Heinrichs explained. "He did do some trimming and cutting. It forced him to actually cut the shoe leather, as they say, and combine things in the script as well and reduce
Fans will get to see those sets when The Last Jedi hits theaters this Friday.
[H/T The Hollywood Reporter]