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That loving holochess scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a true labour of love…

April 5th, 2016 by Matt Gault Comments


J.J. Abrams managed to package so many different little nods and easter eggs to the original Star Wars trilogy throughout The Force Awakens. In attempting to recreate the tone of George Lucas’s original movies, the new movie was jam-packed with cool references – some of which aren’t blatantly obvious on first viewing.

One easter egg from The Force Awakens involved both Oscar-winning visual effects artist Phil Tippett and a serious amount of time. You saw when Finn (John Boyega) was playing around on the Millennium Falcon, how the chess board returned, also known as the Holochess – real in-universe name Dejarik? Yes well Abrams asked Tippett to recreate the board game for the new generation.

You can see the part from The Force Awakens below:


Chewbacca and C-3PO using the Holochess board in Episode IV: A New Hope.


By the time The Force Awakens came about, the original board had fallen into ‘disrepair,’ so Tippett was forced to recreate something he made 40 years ago.

Tippett explained in an interview with Yahoo! Movies (via Squareeyed): [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.


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.

It goes to show the level of detail and commitment envisioned by Abrams from early on in the process and it’s pretty cool that he was able to get Tippett back to recreate the chess board. You can discover much more about Tippett’s work in this documentary below:

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Matt Gault is a sports writer and film fanatic. He is a fully-qualified journalist and has worked for BBCNI, Sunday Life and has been published on The Guardian's website. He interns at REDNI, sub-editing for the Belfast Telegraph. He studied at Queen's University pretending to like history and literature and then University of Ulster Coleraine, where he slacked off enormously for a year and somehow got away with it. He also enjoys Captain Morgans, The Sopranos, Led Zeppelin and Hunter S. Thompson which makes him a remarkably uninteresting person.