J.J. Abrams Talks Lightsabers, IMAX & Trek

J.J. Abrams is deep in the midst of post-production on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” but took a break to attend the Visual Effects Society Awards in Los Angeles this week.

Collider spoke with him on the red carpet where he talked a bit about the film and reaction to the released material thus far, namely the trailer from late last year. He’s aware of all the reaction the controversial lightsaber is generating:

“I will say that what’s been funny is, since the lightsaber’s come out, I cannot tell you how many contradictory emails I have received from people who have defended it with unbelievably detailed graphics. I’ve gotten things that are nuts, and I’ve gotten people who’ve shown how it’ll kill you and how it doesn’t make any sense. It’s been the funniest thing to see the arguments that have developed over this thing.

It was a number of conversations [that led to the design]. It was a sketch that became a whole thing and, you know, this was not done without a lot of conversation and it’s fun to see people have the conversation that we had, but in reverse.”

He says there’s a long story behind the origin of that particular lightsaber but won’t share that until closer to release. He also discussed the mixture of practical and CG effects in the film, with CG mostly being used to remove things rather than add to scenes:

“I feel like the beauty of this age of filmmaking is that there are more tools at your disposal, but it doesn’t mean that any of these new tools are automatically the right tools. And there are a lot of situations where we went very much old school and in fact used CG more to remove things than to add things.

Having said that, there are obviously an enormous amount of CG effects in the film, and I can’t wait for you to see the combination. But it was very important that we build as many sets as we could and that the film have a tangible, sort of authentic quality that you believed that these things were actually happening in a real space with real sunlight, if it was an exterior scene, or if we could build a big portion of a scene and not have anything be blue screen, do it where we could. It was a very important piece of work.”

Abrams confirmed he is executive producing the remaining sequels, and also revealed how Simon Pegg came onboard as screenwriter on the upcoming third “Star Trek” film:

“[Pegg] and I had talked quite a bit about story, he had a lot of wonderful ideas. It just sort of felt obvious that he would be a wonderful person to work on the story and help craft the story, so he’s working on it.”