Thursday, February 5, 2015

JJ Abrams Confirms He'll Be Executive Producer on Episodes VIII and IX, Talks CGI and New Lightsaber

By: Dominic Jones

Lots has been coming out of the Visual Effects Society awards, where Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams was honored with a Visionary Award.  Abrams spoke with the media at the event and naturally Star Wars dominated the conversation.The topics of JJ's involvement in the rest of the trilogy, the new lightsaber, and the use of CGI in the film and everything in between.

When asked about his role in the remaining films in the sequel trilogy, Abrams said, "I wouldn’t say 8 and 9 are my baby, Rian will be working at least on 8, but I’m executive producing those films, yeah."  We've known for a while now that Rian Johnson would be taking over directing duties from Abrams for the next film, but questions were always raised about what Abrams' involvement in those films would be.  Now we know.  Obviously, Abrams knew he was setting up the rest of the trilogy with The Force Awakens so it would make a lot of sense he would have a hand in figuring out the overall story for the trilogy.

On the topic of the new lightsaber that Kylo Ren used in the trailer, Abrams said he was inundated with messages both praising and criticizing the cross guard lightsaber.   Abrams said,
"I will say that what’s been funny is, since the lightsaber’s come out, I cannot tell you how many contradictory emails I have received from people who have both defended it with unbelievably detailed graphics…I’ve gotten things that are nuts, and I’ve gotten people who’ve shown how it’ll kill you and how it doesn’t make any sense.  It’s been the funniest thing to see the arguments that have developed over this thing."

He also talked about how the lightsaber came to be, saying,
It was a number of conversations [that led to the design].  It was a sketch that became a whole thing and, you know, this was not done without a lot of conversation and it’s fun to see people have the conversation that we had, but in reverse.

On the amount of CGI used in The Force Awakens Abrams said,
"There are obviously an enormous amount of CG effects in the film, and I can’t wait for you to see the combination. But it was very important that we build as many sets as we could and that the film have a tangible, sort of authentic quality that you believed that these things were actually happening in a real space with real sunlight, if it was an exterior scene, or if we could build a big portion of a scene and not have anything be blue screen, do it where we could. It was a very important piece of work."

While none of this is particularly ground breaking, it's always nice to get some updates from Abrams about what's going on behind the scenes. 

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