Why Luke’s CGI In Boba Fett Is So Much Better (Explained Properly)

Luke Skywalker returned in The Mandalorian season 2 - and by The Book of Boba Fett, Lucasfilm had dramatically improved the deepfake technology.

Luke Skywalker returned via deepfake technology in The Mandalorian season 2, but the process was dramatically improved for The Book of Boba Fett. The first two seasons of The Mandalorian centered around Din Djarin’s quest to get his ward Grogu to the Jedi – which meant it was surely only a matter of time before Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker appeared. That finally happened in The Mandalorian season 2’s finale, with Luke defeating Moff Gideon and his Dark Troopers, and The Book of Boba Fett went on to visit Luke’s Jedi Temple.

The young Luke Skywalker was created using deepfake technology, but unfortunately his debut in The Mandalorian wasn’t especially well-received. Viewers experienced the so-called “uncanny valley” effect, where a digital human-like appearance just doesn’t quite look right, leading to feelings of unease. Amusingly, a YouTuber named Shamook actually created a more convincing and less jarring deepfake, and Industrial Light & Magic’s decision-makers were so impressed they hired him. Luke’s return in The Book of Boba Fett was dramatically improved, although still imperfect and prompting mixed reactions.

The new Disney Gallery episode for The Book of Boba Fett reveals just how Lucasfilm improved the deepfake. Luke’s cameo in The Mandalorian season 2 sounds to have been quite a troublesome one, because ILM and visual effects company Lola struggled to get the resolution right on the deepfake; it essentially served as something of a proof of concept, and as such was viewed as only partly successful. In contrast, in The Book of Boba Fett episode 6 Luke would be a major character, driving a lot of the most emotional scenes, and Lola knew they had to make the deepfake much more effective. Virtual Production Visualization Supervisor Landis Fields was able to conduct a lot of tests to make sure the CGI worked, shooting on the back lot at different times of day to understand how different light levels affected the deepfake. An additional CG head was required due to the more complex stunt work as well.

The challenge facing the visual effects artists was to work out where their Luke Skywalker CGI broke, and they only passed their work on to ILM when they were happy with it – who, of course, continued to improve it thanks to the advice and guidance of Shamook. No doubt the work would have taken months to get right, with a tremendous amount of collaboration between the different teams. The finished product was a major improvement on The Mandalorian season 2, although there is still room for further development.

It’s fascinating to see how much work went into bringing the young Luke Skywalker to life on the small screen. This kind of deepfake technology is still fresh, and Lucasfilm is one of the few studios deploying it in such high-profile ways. At the same time, though, there are curious ethical questions raised by the evolution of deepfake technology, not least because Lucasfilm has previously recast actors – such as Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo – to play young versions of their classic characters before. The Book of Boba Fett actually used an actor who bears a striking resemblance to Mark Hamill, Graham Hamilton, and it may have simply been easier for Star Wars to use him without the deepfake – thus completely avoiding the “uncanny valley” effect seen in The Mandalorian.

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