Should Star Wars: Episode VII ‘use less CGI’?

Ryan Leston
3 March 2013
Should Star Wars: Episode VII ‘use less CGI’?
Perhaps we'll keep the lightsabers, Mark...

Ever since the original trilogy, 'Star Wars' has led the way when it comes to special effects. Whether it's landspeeders, lightsabers or Death Star trenches, those iconic scenes that we know and love have paved the way for modern visual effects. But in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Mark Hamill revealed that he thinks Episode VII should "use less CGI". And to be honest, I couldn't agree more.

"I said to George that I wanted to go back to the way it was, in the sense that ours was much more carefree and light-hearted and humorous - in my opinion, anyway… I hope they find the right balance of CGI with practical effects."

This has been the problem with Star Wars for a long while - at least since the start of the prequel trilogy. The balance was all wrong and they relied too heavily on ground-breaking new effects. 'Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace' felt more like a tech demo than a film - it pioneered new techniques in the same way that the original trilogy did… but it definitely lacked the character and atmosphere that made the originals so great. And while it looks as though Lucasfilm are trying to rekindle the old magic by bringing back the original stars, is that really enough?

"I love props," Mark Hamill explains. "I love models, miniatures, matte paintings - I'm sort of old school. I think if you go too far in the direction of CGI it winds up looking like just a giant videogame, and that's unfortunate… If they listen to me at all, it'll be, 'Lighten up and go retro with the way it looks.'"

I have to admit, I agree completely… and you only have to look at 'The Phantom Menace' to see that Mark Hamill is definitely onto something. The pod racing scenes were phenomenal and used an all-new approach to create the blistering terrain of the Tatooine racing circuit. Matte paintings and models were deemed too unrealistic so instead, they combined photography with computer graphics - a method which was later used by James Cameron in his visual masterpiece, 'Avatar'.

Unfortunately, the entire film was jam-packed with slick animations and shiny new techniques… which didn't exactly help matters. Everything felt too glossy and 'perfect' - something which the original trilogy never was. Despite pioneering visual effects, you only have to look at the Millennium Falcon for a reminder of how rough-and-ready (and realistic) the originals felt.

So will 'Episode VII' pull out all the stops when it comes to its visual effects and animation? Or will they take a more subtle approach? With J.J Abrams at the helm they might want to keep an eye on that lens flare.

Do you think Episode VII should use less CGI? Should they return to models and puppetry?

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