Neal Scanlan, the creature shop head of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, helped create over 100 aliens and droids for J.J. Abrams' movie.
In addition to creating many of the film's practical effects, Scanlan also played a key role in designing Supreme Leader Snoke, the motion-capture villiain played by Andy Serkis.
Some fans suggested that Snoke, a relatively humanoid being, could have been done with makeup and CG enhancements. IGN interviewed Scanlan, and asked if his team tried practical alternatives.
"We went through several -- many, actually -- ideas of what [Snoke] might be," Scanlan said. "Dare I even say this, I think at one point we even saw him as female. Nothing was off the cards, so when we started to think about a character like this, there were lots of ways of approaching what he could be... and a lot of ideas were thrown out."
One of the ideas was to use "exterior methods" (using animatronics or performers outside of Snoke to bring the character to life) "He was very thin," Scanlan said about the character design. "He was, in a sense, very decrepit -- although you may not see all of that from the design perspective. He was almost skeletal, and that would have been impossible for us to put a person in a suit, so we would have had to use exterior means of doing it."
Scanlan's team ultiamtely decided to use mo-cap: "We felt, in the mix, it would be much better to develop that and have someone like Andy Serkis play that role and bring his own unique sort of offering to it".
In the movie, Snoke appears as a 25-foot hologram, but Scanlan himself said that he doesn't know Snoke's true height, but he did say that they had a rough estimate.
"We looked at him as sort of an arbitrary height," he said. "What would a character like this feel like? If he was six or seven feet tall, does he have the presence? So when we were designing him and maquetting him, we worked on that sort of scale, because he gave us an emotional connection to that. Then the idea would be, in post, that J.J. could kind of configure him at whatever scale he felt was the right way to go forward. So we looked at him being very much at the seven- to eight-foot mark, because that suited us."
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now available on Digital HD, and the DVD and Blu-Ray will be released on April 5.
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