Lucasfilm's President Had Final Say on Rogue One's CG Characters

Illustration for article titled Lucasfilm's President Had Final Say on Rogue One's CG Characters

The story behind the CG characters in Rogue One is something we’re all dying to know more about. So far, there’s little not covered in this link or this link, but I had one lingering question to ask John Knoll when I spoke to him today.


Knoll is the Chief Creative Officer at Industrial Light and Magic, as well as the person who first pitched Rogue One, and a producer on the film. It was he and his team, which included Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould among many others, who helped bring the New Hope versions of Tarkin and Leia to the film.

However, Knoll noted in another article that, if the effects had not worked, there were fail-safes, such as recasting the roles, shooting around the characters, or making them holograms. Since so much has been made of the decision to not go that route, I was dying to know: Who made the ultimate decision that the risky effect was, in fact, working, and the filmmakers did not need to go in another direction?

The answer shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Here’s Knoll:

Some of it was my just asserting that, “No no no, let’s not pull the [plug] on this, we’re going to get there, this is going to work.” But ultimately the decision was Kathy’s whether she thought it was working well enough to stay close up, full screen, for a duration.

“Kathy” meaning Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. So anyone who has complaints about the effects can take them up with the woman in charge.

We’ll have more from Knoll, Hickel, and Corbould next week.


Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo. Formerly of Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and Slashfilm. AP Award-Winning Film Critic and CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.


Here is my opinion - were the effects perfect? No. Were they fucking great? Yes. I applaud the entire team for sticking with the idea and taking the risk. Sure, maybe they only achieved 90% of their goal, but that is still 90% more than if they had not tried.

Furthermore, in order to make technological progress, you need to try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and etc. It doesn’t suddenly happen like *this* in one shot. Unless you are James Cameron and can spend 10+ years on a single movie (and thus try and fail in private). And unlike Avatar, or the prequels, the technological advances of Rogue One weren’t made at the expense of story.