These STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS VFX Reels Are So Cool
Like many of you, I've now seen The Force Awakens enough times that I can disengage with it as a piece of entertainment and start looking at it as the tremendous challenge it was to create. J.J. Abrams had an insanely difficult job as both co-writer and director of this movie, and being able to visualize what the final film would look like and trust the VFX team to make that happen, knowing that all of the blame would fall on his shoulders if the movie sucked, put more pressure on him than the average director. This was hailed as the triumphant return of Star Wars! Luckily, the vendors and VFX artists came through, and the movie ended up being a lot of fun and visually dazzling.
io9 pointed me to these cool videos from IAMAG that break down some of the visual effects work, showing off the insane layering and texturing that the audience doesn't think twice about when we're immersed in the world of the film. The second video is really freaking cool: it shows a split-screen version of the shots as they were filmed on set alongside the completed shots we see in the movie:
And finally, Wired has a nice look at how Abrams was able to enhance Lupita Nyong'o's performance as Maz Kanata, going in-depth on the technology that was utilized to capture her facial movements and translate them into an alien character. Some of the footage is the same that appears in the first video above, but the explanation here is new: