How Pickup Trucks Helped Make Star Wars: The Last Jedi Most Visually Stunning Battle

One of the most stunning visuals in Star Wars: The Last Jedi—and in any Star Wars film we’ve seen—was the final battle between the First Order and the cornered and depleted Resistance on the remote, barren planet of Crait. One of the most arresting things about this small, uninhabited rock in the Outer Rim Territories is what lies beneath the layer of white salt covering the planet—a vast landscape of red soil. Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) has made Crait a Resistance outpost due to it being such an unassuming, largely unknown planet, but it turns out to be an almost hallucinatory location for the epic battle between Kylo Ren’s First Order and Leia’s Resistance at the end of Last Jedi thanks in large part to that red soil, and the fact that the scene was filmed on salt flats in Bolivia.

In a new video released by Industrial Light & Magic, you can see how their Oscar-nominated VFX team created the scene, creating a battle that is at once thrilling and ravishing. Once the Resistance fighters jump aboard a bunch of junker speeders and do their best to attack the First Order’s massive AT-STs in order to buy time for their comrades to escape, they kick up the white salt and reveal the lush, red soil beneath. In order to pull this effect off, the ILM VFX team did incredible work to populate the real location with Last Jedi‘s ships, walkers and more, yet you’ll also noticed they used a some super low-fit—and effective—technology: pickup trucks (h/t i09). The pickups were used to kick up the actual red mineral that lies beneath Bolivia’s salt flats, creating the painterly visuals that made the racing speeders appear to be leaving a trail of blood. It’s the perfect marriage of the practical and the digital, all benefiting from a real location.

There’s also some really cool looks at the speeders that writer/director Rian Johnson’s production design team created, as well as the completely digital cave system that Rey and Chewie used to escape some TIE-Fighters while piloting the Millennium Falcon.

Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould are all nominated for Oscars for their VFX work on The Last Jedi. This look at the crucial, beautiful battle on Crait is a great example why.

Featured image: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The planet Crait. Courtesy Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studios


Bryan Abrams

Bryan Abrams is the Editor-in-chief of The Credits. He's run the site since its launch in 2012. He lives in New York.