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Why Does Jabba Have A Rancor And How Did He Get It?

The rancor may have been a gift for Jabba the Hutt, but crafting the creature was anything but for the team at Industrial Light & Magic. The team’s efforts to push the envelope with how to create the rancor came with their fair share of challenges.

In the Disney+ documentary series “Light & Magic,” effects artist Phil Tippett explains that the rancor — whose design was inspired by crossing a bear with a potato — was intended to be a stop-motion puppet. However, George Lucas had a different method in mind. “George said he wanted to do it as … ‘the best Godzilla suit ever,'” Tippett says in the documentary. The crew did several tests of a bulky rancor costume, but it failed to please Lucas. ILM artist Dennis Muren came up with the idea of using a rod puppet shot at a high frame rate.

That wasn’t the end of the team’s headaches. Given that it was shot at 72 frames per second, three times the usual film frame rate, Tippett and the other puppeteers had to perform faster than usual to ensure the puppet’s movements would come out smoothly. The task was an arduous one, with Tippett explaining in an interview on the Star Wars Complete Saga Blu-Ray, “There would be some shots that was, like, 70 takes. We … tried to do different stuff that you just don’t know until you take a look at it.” Their hard work paid off, as Tippett and company were honored with a special achievement award for visual effects at the 1984 Academy Awards.

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