Why Visual Effects Legend Dennis Muren Prefers Star Wars Practical Creatures

Dennis Muren has extensive experience in both practical and digital effects, helping to usher in both the golden age of practical effects during the eighties as well as the modern era of CGI. His creative reach gives him perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of both techniques, and while he has lauded the possibilities that CG provides, he has on occasion lamented the downfall of more hands-on work. Speaking specifically about the “Star Wars” creature effects in an interview with StarWars.com, Muren stated that he prefers to see the tangibility of whatever is on the screen, even if it highlights design defects. Indeed, there’s a certain beauty to the cracks and flaws of practical effects that make them seem more realistic, as Muren explains that it’s as if “the limitations were built into” the designs.

Using Jabba the Hutt in “Return of the Jedi” as an example, Muren explained that the constraints of the model turned out to be part of what makes the visual aspects of the character organic and believable. Jabba was too big to move and lug around, but he never needed to because he’s a giant slug that doesn’t look like he would be very mobile, anyway. To get a better sense of what Muren is saying here, compare the old Jabba to the more recent CG Jabba that George Lucas edited into the special edition release of “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” who slithers around awkwardly and artificially.

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