ILM Shows Us The CGI Magic Behind Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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BY February 5, 2020

Good visuals will have you thinking “how did they do that!” while also barely noticing that anything is unnatural. These visual effects include CGI, practical effects, and a healthy mix of the two together. There have been massive improvements in the CGI world as of late, and Star Wars has always been around to push the boundaries.  ILM, the visual effects company founded by George Lucas himself in 1975, is here to remind us how much of an impact these effects can have. Thanks to an impressive video showing before-and-after clips from scenes with heavy effects, we can see all of the CGI between Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerIt includes everything from massive ships, CGI water, and Carrie Fisher herself. You can watch ILM’s full video below.

ILM Releases CGI Video For The Rise of Skywalker

I’m one of those moviegoers who have no real knowledge of how CGI magic is done. Sure, I can recognize some practical effects. Though, I’m there to be impressed. I’m not there to think too hard on how they could have done it. I’ll leave that up to the magicians in the editing rooms. Watching the ILM video is a reminder that so much of what we see on screen is vastly different from how it looked while filming. A major kudos to the entire ILM VFX team. We also recognize the talent that it takes for actors to interact with things that haven’t yet been designed, and to work around creative ideas that they might not even see until they watch the premiere. Here’s a quick recap of some of the coolest things we’ve learned about the CGI in The Rise of Skywalker.

Carrie Fisher’s Appearance

CGI the Rise of Skywalker Leia Image via screengrab

Unfortunately, Carrie Fisher passed away in 2016. Though, her legacy continues. And, since she’s been such an influence on the Star Wars franchise, they couldn’t make the films without including her somehow. To have Fisher in The Rise of Skywalker, they did have to get creative. This included using takes from episode 7, creating her hair and costume via digital effects. They also used old footage for young Luke and Leia, with the help of Billie Lourd (Fisher’s daughter) as a backdrop.

The Adorable Babu Frik

CGI the Rise of Skywalker Image via Lucasfilm

We’ve all heard about how Baby Yoda was a real puppet. As it turns out, Babu Frik was, too! Creature designers at Lucasfilm crafted a practical puppet with an animatronic head. A total of 6 puppeteers stepped in to bring the adorable Babu Frik to life!

Rey’s Practical Leap

CGI the Rise of Skywalker Rey Leap Image via screengrab

We’ve all seen Rey’s impressive jump over the Fighter. They featured the leap in the trailers and looked sufficiently epic in the film. And, as it turns out, this was a mix of CGI and practical effects! The video shows Rey (whether it’s Daisy Ridley or a stunt double is unclear) doing a big flip while attached to safety wires. ILM’s VFX team added the ship and sand effects later.

The Rise of Skywalker Reminds Us That Advancements In CGI Seem Never-Ending

Fans were amazed when the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977. And here we are, decades later, continuing to be amazed at the amazing technological advancements that they’ve worked towards. Regardless of how fans feel about the newest film, we can all agree on how beautiful it looked. Bravo, ILM and Lucasfilm.

So, readers, what’s your take on the CGI in The Rise of Skywalker? How does it compare to past Star Wars films? Let’s talk about it!

Featured image via Walt Disney Studios & Lucasfilm.


Meghan Hale is a graduate student living right outside of Toronto, Canada. She has always been the go-to gal for talking about anything film related and has a frustratingly long list of movie trivia up her sleeve. She is currently working on her first screenplay, as well as a horror novel, with the goal of publishing it while Stephen King is still around to read it.

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