‘Star Wars’ VFX supervisor explains the Luke Skywalker deepfake

Disney Plus

No franchise in the entertainment industry has utilized deepfake technology to the extent Star Wars has over the past few years. Starting with Rogue One which featured a young Princess Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin, the practice has since continued in numerous projects, all the way up to The Rise of Skywalker and the MandoVerse.

In fact, the latest instance involves the Obi-Wan Kenobi show, which included a young version of Hayden Christensen as Anakin. When it comes to the most successful attempt, however, perhaps none of these could rival what Industrial Light & Magic did with Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian and consequently The Book of Boba Fett.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, ILM supervisor Richard Bluff has discussed the approach to de-aging the legendary original trilogy protagonist, detailing the need for secrecy and even developing a secret project to run concurrently with the work on Luke Skywalker.

“Jon was convinced that the deepfakes that we see on YouTube [would at some point] become so good that they would hold up at 4K. We now understood that we needed to get a double that was much closer in terms of facial characteristics and face shape toward the target age of Luke Skywalker. So we brought VFX into the casting process, and in order to cast the character and to keep it a secret, Jon created a fake project. The difference is that we have access to the raw photography from the target movies [of Hamill’s likeness.] We are basically taking 4K resolution frames from Return of the Jedi, Empire, Star Wars — that’s the information that’s going into the deepfake algorithm that is helping to generate a face.”

Lucasfilm might continue to bring Mark Hamill back if his character appears in any more MandoVerse outings. From where they left things off, it’s safe to say that Luke’s return is a high probability, even if we don’t know exactly when to expect it.

The Mandalorian season 3 is currently in the midst of production, with a designated February 2023 release window.

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