The burning tree scene in “The Last Jedi” was a practical effect — they really lit a fake tree on fire.
It took months to build the tree, and close to 25 separate gas lines were rigged to it to have the tree burn to director Rian Johnson’s liking.
Special effects supervisor Chris Corbould explained to Business Insider how the scene was pulled off.
In an era when you assume anything amazing that happens in a movie is courtesy of computer-generated imagery, it’s always exciting to learn when a memorable scene was pulled off by practical effects.
Since the “Star Wars” prequels, in which George Lucas was heavily criticized for using too much CGI to create the worlds and characters, many big-budget movies have tried to find that happy medium of practical and visual effects to give the action on screen a more grounded feel. And the now Disney-owned “Star Wars” saga leading the way.
A perfect example is in “The Last Jedi” (available on digital release Tuesday, on Blu-ray/DVD March 27) when Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) attempts to burn down the giant tree that holds the sacred Jedi texts. It’s a scene that also features a Force ghost of Yoda.
When Skywalker tells the legendary Jedi master what he’s about to do, Yoda doesn’t talk him out of it. But when Skywalker gets to the giant tree, with flame in hand, he can’t go through with it. This leads to Yoda summoning a giant lightening bolt that strikes the tree and engulfs it in flames. He then delivers his famous giddy laugh as Skywalker looks on in complete shock.
Almost all of that scene is done with practical effects. From the puppet of Yoda, voiced by Frank Oz, that Hamill traded lines with, to the enormous tree and giant flames shooting from it.
It was the handiwork of the movie’s special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, and one of the reasons why he recently received a visual effects Oscar nomination for “The Last Jedi.”
Responsible for some of the greatest visual effects pulled off on screen in the last 40 years, he’s done everything from James Bond movies like “Moonraker” and “GoldenEye,” to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and “Inception” (which he won an Oscar for). He’s now hit the effects industry mountain top with getting the “Star Wars” gig (he was also the effects supervisor on “The Force Awakens”) and the Yoda/Skywalker scene for him is one of his …
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