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The wizardry behind Princess Leia’s emotional Rise of Skywalker send-off revealed

The Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker set may have been robbed of the late, great Carrie Fisher, but fans were still able to wave an emotional goodbye to Princess Leia when the final instalment of the Skywalker Saga hit cinemas last December.

Thanks to the wonders of modern CGI, the Leia character was present within Rise of Skywalker, allowing fans to have one more moment with her worshipfulness.

Now, ILM, the special effects firm founded by Lucasfilm, has revealed how it was done in a new VFX reel lifting the lid on the visual effects used in the film. You can see it below:

Leia’s inclusion was possible thanks to unused footage shot during The Force Awakens. Her movements are natural, but her hair and clothing were digitally altered and inserted into the scene by ILM.

Industrial Light and Magic also digitally inserted older footage, shot during Return of the Jedi, for a RoS flashback scene showing the young Luke and Leia training together.

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The seamless integration of the legendary actresses performance in Rise Of Skywalker is somewhat in contrast to her other CGI-based appearance within the Star Wars canon.

The young Princess Leia famously appeared in the closing scene of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but the CGI was roundly criticised, with some viewers suggesting she looked more like a video game character than a human.

However, it was still good enough to convince the late star. Rogue One director Gareth Edwards revealed in an interview with CNN that Fisher initially believed it was all her and had simply forgotten filming the scene.

“Carrie watched it and thought it was real footage of her. She didn’t really remember filming that shot. And Kathy (Lucasfilm exec Kathleen Kennedy) had to explain, ‘No, it’s all computer graphics; they completely recreated you.’”

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