The Mandalorian may be the story of a bounty hunter turned father figure to a mysterious Jedi youngling, but it will always be remembered for the revival of original trilogy-era Luke Skywalker. In The Mandalorian's Season 2 finale, titled "The Rescue," fans witnessed the return of a young Luke Skywalker for the first time in 37 years courtesy of de-aging tech.
But even though the cameo was a huge hit with fans, Luke's final look was not. In fact, many fans felt Lucasfilm's digital de-aging was subpar to what artists achieved online; and the studio took notice.
After Lucasfilm hired YouTuber and deepfake artist Shamook as a Senior Facial Capture Artist, Luke returned to the Mandoverse in The Book of Boba Fett, where new digital de-aging and deepfake techniques vastly improved the reception for the son of Skywalker.
Now, Lucasfilm is pulling back the curtain on just how they improved Luke's look from The Mandalorian to The Book of Boba Fett.
Star Wars Explains New and Improved Luke Skywalker Deepfake
In a video titled "Behind the Magic: The Visual Effects of The Book of Boba Fett," Lucasfilm revealed how the use of deepfakes improved Luke Skywalker CGI for his role in The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+.
To being with, the studio explained the complex process of creating, "over 80 shots of a young Luke Skywalker involved deepfakes and a CG head."
Lucasfilm also shared that artists ran low-resolution deepfakes on all the dailies takes of Luke Skywalker for his scenes in Episode 6 of The Book of Boba Fett.
In addition, VFX artists utilized old footage of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker from 1983's Return of the Jedi, due to the fact that The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett take place after the events of that film and Luke needs to look like Hamill did in 1983.
Furthermore, the behind-the-scenes video revealed that "in order to maintain acceptable resolution at the 4k broadcast size, we match-moved our CG head to deepfake."
Finally, Lucasfilm's VFX artists "rendered out various textural errors" as they would "combine with the raw deepfake for the final face swap."
The full video showcasing this deepfake can be seen below:
More Deepfaked Luke Skywalker On the Way?
While some fans and critics still don't believe the overall look and feel of the de-aged, deepfaked Luke is quite there, the improvement from The Mandalorian's Season 2 finale in 2020 to Luke's return in The Book of Boba Fett in early 2022 is huge.
It was also a task that doesn't always get the credit it deserves.
After all, Luke is one of the most important and iconic characters in Star Wars and pop culture itself. Not only did Lucasfilm have to improve their visuals, but also do justice to the essence of the character. If the studio had failed in either, the handling of the character would've been viewed as cheap and disrespectful and the VFX techniques and artistry would've been cast in a bad light.
Just like Obi-Wan once said, Lucasfilm has taken its first step into a larger world. Just what this new world holds, however, for that galaxy far, far away will be interesting to see.
All episodes of The Book of Boba Fett are available to stream on Disney+.