J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens clearly took the opportunity to pay homage to the original Star Wars trilogy without blatantly copying exactly what was done in Star Wars: A New Hope. There was many callbacks to the original Star Wars films that Director Abrams couldn’t resist. One of these amazing references to the original Star Wars film was the return of the legendary chess board game (Dejarik) aboard the Millennium Falcon. Abrams and Kathy [Kennedy] wanted to re-create the actual chess set, which had pretty much fallen into disrepair.
Director J.J. Abrams tapped Phil Tippett, a two-time Academy Award-winning visual effects artist to recreate the chess board for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For those not familiar, Tippett did stop-motion animation on A Hew Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Initially, as Tippett explained, the stop-motion creatures that were part of the chess board were holdovers from Cantina creature designs that didn’t make it into Lucas’ final cut. Instead, they landed on the chess board. For The Force Awakens, the original model of the board had fallen on hard times and had to be recreated for a scene with actor John Boyega (Finn) aboard the Falcon.
Tippett told YahooNews.com the challenge it had in recreating something that he’d made up nearly 40 years ago.
[The designs] were over at the Lucasfilm archives, so we went over there and engaged in a pretty protracted reconstruction process where we used a process called photogrammetry to capture the disintegrated puppets in their current state, and that allowed us to put them in the computer and to reconstruct them. Those went to the 3D printer and the molds were made and cast in the various rubber and plastics. That’s where a tremendous amount of time went, was in the reconstruction.
Cinemablend.com also spoke with Tippet about the recreation of the chess boards as well.
The stop motion process was pretty much the same, except we were shooting on digital cameras instead of film. The process of reconstructing the original chess set was much more elaborate initially, where Jon Berg and I created… [It] was just a matter of weeks, the very last thing in the production process on the first Star Wars movies. Kind of an afterthought of George [Lucas]’s. The reconstruction process for J.J. Abrams was much more elaborate, you know. We had, the reconstructing, took way more time than doing something original in the first one.
Comicbook.com reports that Tippet is in the process of recreating the reconstructed animation game sequence seen in Star Wars and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Tippett Studio and HappyGiant are creating a HoloGrid: Monster Battle as he says in this announcement trailer below, “creating monsters for you to play with.” Inspired by the “HoloChess”. The “Hybrid” type Board Game, Collectible Card Game (CCG), and Digital Game is an all in one experience that delivers to players a new type of gaming experience. You can see more about the game at the Hologridmonsterbattle.com website.
All game footage in this video is running in realtime on mobile devices.
May the Force be with you…