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Outside of the questions about Rey’s parentage and Snoke’s identity, one of the driving topics of conversation leading up to Star Wars: The Last Jedi was Porgs. Love them, hate them or want to eat them, the ultra-cute birds of Ahch-To were everywhere, and although they proved inconsequential in the film itself, they became an adorable part of the galaxy far, far away. Now, we’ve been given a look at how Star Wars: The Last Jedi brought Porgs to life. Check it out:
Because Skellig Michael Island, the filming location for Ahch-To, is not actually home to hundreds of Porgs (only puffins), the alien sea birds had to be created using movie magic. As you can see in this image from the official Star Wars Twitter account, they took an old school approach and brought at least some of the Porgs seen in The Last Jedi to life using puppets. This is in keeping with the renewed focus on using practical effects whenever possible that has been espoused since the sequel trilogy began.
So the goofy waddling and curious looks of these island creatures were largely brought to life thanks to talented puppeteers carefully orchestrating their every move. The metal rods controlling the puppets obviously had to be removed using computers in post-production to complete the illusion. If I had to guess, that’s why the rods are blue to help facilitate that process in post, and presumably green wouldn’t be used since they wouldn’t want to digitally remove the grass.
The results speak for themselves too. It really says something when merchandisable, weapons-grade cuteness has been dialed in to such a degree that it’s just as potent in behind-the-scenes images of a puppet as it is in the film itself. The Porg puppets look amazingly lifelike here, from the glossiness of their eyes to the texture of their feathers. It’s very impressive work.
The puppets have a real weight to them, and I think that is why the practical approach holds up so well and is one of the highlights of the divisive sequel trilogy. You need digital effects for some things, but when you can marry the two, it seems to really work. So will the puppeteers be back on Porg duty and will we see these feathered friends return in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?
When last I checked, Chewie still had some Porg friends aboard the Millennium Falcon, so J.J. Abrams could certainly bring them back, although Lando might prefer to fly the ship Porg-free. We didn’t see any Porgs in the teaser trailer for the final film in the Skywalker Saga, but that teaser didn’t show us much and I imagine the Porgs could show up to provide some cuteness and levity before it’s all over.