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Watch Star Wars' super-complex spaceships come together through the magic of special effects

The Force Awakens relied heavily on practical effects — a point director J.J. Abrams labored in the run-up to the film’s release — but in a galaxy with spaceships, strange aliens, and world-crushing superweapons, some computer-generated work was obviously required. Industrial Light and Magic has now given us a new peek at how some of those visual effects were made, posting a highlight reel to YouTube that shows how First Order bases, TIE Fighters, and even major characters were put together layer by layer.

A similar reel was uploaded earlier this year to the Oscars’ official YouTube channel, but this one highlights more effectively how much detail and work is required for scenes that last just a few seconds in the final movie. Water spray kicked up by a low-flying Millennium Falcon goes through multiple revisions, transforming from the kind of plastic-y liquid you might see in a 10-year-old video game, then being coated with hundreds of perfectly spherical balls, before finally becoming a realistic spritz. Jakku’s crashed Star Destroyer is similarly complex, built from the frame up with layer upon layer of detail. Each section represents hundreds, if not thousands of hours of work, but most flash by so fast you could easily miss them.


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