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NYT on bringing Peter Cushing back for Rogue 1

Posted December 29, 2016 into Movies by John Birmingham

SPOILER WARNING. Seriously. Stop now if you haven't seen the film yet.

I heard Cushing had been digitally reborn for R1 just before I saw the film. I wish I hadn't. I couldn't help but watch his scenes with a hypercritical eye, looking for the contours of the uncanny valley. I don't know that I'd have noticed much if I hadn't already known.

The New York Times has an interesting piece about the process of bringing Grand Moff Tarkon back to life. As the producers point out, it wasn't something they could avoid. “If he’s not in the movie, we’re going to have to explain why he’s not in the movie,” said Kiri Hart, a Lucasfilm story development executive and “Rogue One” co-producer. “This is kind of his thing.”

From NYT:

In striving for a balance between a digital figure who seemed real and one who looked precisely like Cushing, the “Rogue One” creators said seemingly minor tweaks could make significant differences — and these details were tinkered with constantly.
For example, the original “Star Wars” film (also known as “A New Hope”) was lit differently than “Rogue One,” raising questions of how to adjust the lighting on the character.
Hal Hickel, an Industrial Light & Magic animation supervisor, said that lighting him “the way he was in ‘A New Hope’ improved his likeness as Tarkin, but it worsened the sense of him being real because then he didn’t look like any of the actors in the scene.”

13 Responses to ‘NYT on bringing Peter Cushing back for Rogue 1’

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted December 29, 2016
I don't see what would have been wrong with digging up Cushing's corpse and draping it over some sort of robotic skeleton.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted December 29, 2016
I didn't know in advance and I thought it looked amazing. Sure, if you look close enough you can tell Cushing was CGI, but the uncanny valley has narrowed significantly.

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Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted December 29, 2016
What I noted, after playing both the original and CGI on YouTube after I saw Rogue One, was that they did pretty good with the face. However, Guy Henry's voice is just a notch off. Henry's voice has a bit of crackle in it, especially when he says he want to speak with Lord Vader.

Cushing's voice always rolls, and sounds as smooth as silk, even when he is menacing.

But that wasn't enough to wreck the moment, anymore than the CGI did. However, Princess Leia looked downright creepy. Her skin too flawless, too translucent and milky. Carrie Fisher does, if you look, have some texture to her even at 19.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted January 4, 2017
With you on that synopsis Murph. I was pretty impressed with the job they did on Cushing - not so on Leia. I had to google to see if they just got some look-a-like for her role and mashed the makeup on good and proper.

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MordWa has opinions thus...

Posted December 29, 2016
Peter Cushing was always sufficiently creepy - odd even, in the way Hammer Horror icons always seemed to be - that having him as CGI didn't bother me. I'm not sure it would work for anyone else; with the obvious exception that Yoda has of course been CGI for 20 years, and no one seemed to care...

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w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted December 29, 2016
I haven't seen the movie yet, but regarding the Peter Cushing CGI and prejudicial judgements etc, I read an interview with the Australian actor Anthony LaPaglia. He moved to America and worked hard on the audition circuit but struggled to be cast. He presented as an Australian but was sure his American accent was spot on. The casting people would say, we like you but we don't think your American accent is quite right. To overcome this, he decided to tell them he was American and all problems with his accent disappeared. He ended up with seven years as the lead actor in the very successful TV show, 'Without a Trace'.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted December 30, 2016
That is the exact reason why I've stopped telling people that I can read their minds.

Oldy puts forth...

Posted December 31, 2016
Well of course I knew you were going to say that

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted December 31, 2016
You are totally creeping me out, dude.

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McGuffin has opinions thus...

Posted January 1, 2017
I suspect much of the uncanny valley effect has to do with fore-knowledge. My wife and a couple of other people I've talked to weren't especially aware of Peter Cushing, or the fact that he's dead, and didn't notice he was a digital creation.

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Don Bagert has opinions thus...

Posted January 2, 2017
It really was good to see the lengths they went to make this movie "Star Wars, Episode 3.9" (or is that III.IX lol) - they wanted to make it reasonable for future generations to watch "Rogue One" followed by "A New Hope" with as few differences as possible.

Now, it's good that Carrie Fisher has already filmed her scenes for Episode VIII - I hope that they can write around her death so they don't have to CGI Leia again for Episode IX :P

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Rob ducks in to say...

Posted January 2, 2017
I think I'll wait till the dvd to see it. My star wars fandom has lost its shine (and you should see my toy collection) , plus my TV is great as is my new stereo. I'm pretty sure there is nothing that is going to spoil it for me.

I got bored with reading the Star wars novels because they essentially just rehashed the first 3 movies in each novel. Yet another Death Star/suncrusher/darksabre and not enough R2D2.

The young Han Solo novels were Ok and gave him some extra depth. What we really need is a return of Jaxxon the Rabbit, now that's a character!

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Aaron puts forth...

Posted January 3, 2017
I could tell there was some sort of effect but didn't really care, they are trying to tell a story and the original actor is gone. I would prefer they cast real actors with make up or something. They did a fantastic job I felt like I was watching a movie not a prequel.

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