Animation supervisor Paul Kavanagh was not only thrilled to animate the rancor for “The Book of Boba Fett,” but also to see the iconic “Star Wars” creature in action. “We wanted to see the rancor…
Animation supervisor Paul Kavanagh was not only thrilled to animate the rancor for “The Book of Boba Fett,” but also to see the iconic “Star Wars” creature in action.
“We wanted to see the rancor on the loose in the city, and just rampaging,” Kavanagh said in a conversation for Variety’s deputy editor Meredith Woerner for Artisans, presented by HBO.
While determining how to capture the ferocity of the reptilian beast through CG, Kavanagh reached out to VFX veteran Phil Tippett, who puppeteered the original Rancor in “Return of the Jedi.” Having a rolodex of past creators from the George Lucas productions at the ready is clearly a huge perk to working at Industrial Light & Magic.
According to Kavanagh, Tippett recalled on Zoom how he controlled the rancor puppet with “one hand up its ass” while filming the 1983 film.
“The one in ‘Boba Fett’ — [the] CG one — is very, very faithful to the original [in] ‘Return of the Jedi,'” Kavanagh said about honoring Tippett’s puppeteering work.
Kavanagh also broke down how the visual effects team achieved the rancor’s action sequences in “The Book of Boba Fett” series finale, using a combination of a remote-controlled head and CGI.
“We shot with that full-sized head on the backlot with Boba Fett riding it, and Mando jumping on the back of it trying to [also] wrestle it. We shot as much as we physically could with that,” Kavanagh explained. “And then the rest of the body, we filled with CG. So we had to match move — in the computer — the actual head of the onset rancor, and then replace the bits that weren’t actually in the model.”
One particular action Kavanagh had to fulfill as a “Star Wars” fan: the rancor eating somebody. “We did want to do the eating part of it because that’s so iconic, when he bites into that guard in ‘Return of the Jedi,'” he said. “It’s so disturbing, like, ‘Oh my God!'”
“The Book of Boba Fett” is streaming on Disney Plus. Watch Kavanagh break down the VFX of the rancor above.