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Star Wars 7: Chewbacca, R2-D2, And More Have This Special Message For Fans

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We’re now officially less than one year away from finally seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Hell, by December 19, 2015, some of us will already have seen it three four times, maybe more. Earlier this year, J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm, and Disney capitalized on this massive fan interest and channeled it for good. Their “Force for Change” campaign raised millions of dollars to help at risk children around the world, and Abrams, the crew, and a couple of notable franchise stars, want to say thank you.

The earlier “Force for Change” videos offered fans our earliest official looks at the new film, with a special emphasis on the practical effects side of production. We got our first peek at that Jim Henson-esque character, and saw Abrams hanging out in front of a new X-Wing Fighter. While this video doesn’t have any cool reveals like those, both Chewbacca and R2-D2 stop by, or in R2’s case roll by, in order to thank everyone for helping out.

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Star Wars: Force For Change Wraps Ups And J.J. Abrams Gives Fans A Hand

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Star Wars Force For ChangeA while back we talked about “Force for Change,” a charity tie-in with the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, where fans could win a small role in the film for donating money to UNICEF and their continuing efforts around the globe. Director J.J. Abrams appeared in a couple of videos that not only revealed the contest and prize, but also showed off some of the practical special effects that will appear in the movie. He even revealed a new version of the iconic X-Wing Fighter in the process. The contest is now over, and today he delivered a thank cool thank you note for fans, as well as revealing the winner.

“Force for Change” was a rousing success, raising more than $4.26 million dollars for UNICEF’s Innovation Labs, which are aimed at addressing serious issues facing children all around the globe, like nutrition, education, and access to clean water. These efforts include MobiStations, which are portable, solar-powered educational stations that can go anywhere they’re needed, as well as Rapid FTR (Family Tracing and Reunification), which is an app for mobile phones that is designed to bring together families that have been separated by natural disasters.

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J.J. Gives Fans A Chance To Be In Star Wars: Episode VII

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Production on Star Wars: Episode VII officially began last week, bringing us one step closer to seeing a new Star Wars movie in theaters for the first time since 2005. Episode VII is currently filming in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, and director J.J. Abrams took a moment to show off the location and offer fans a chance to win an onscreen appearance in the next Star Wars film!

We’ll get to the contest details in a moment, but there’s something worth pointing out in the above video. It’s that crazy-looking alien that walks past behind J.J., which is very obviously created using practical effects. Abrams and others had said previously that Episode VII would be using practical effects where feasible, which was a huge relief after the flashy but empty CGI excess of the prequels. If you look at the alien’s side profile, you can pretty much figure out how the rig works: it looks like the actor’s legs are in the alien’s legs, with his or her upper torso disguised inside the junk the alien is hauling on its back. It’s such a simple thing to create a great illusion, but it gives the creature a sense of life and weight that many CGI creations simply don’t have. Plus, the fact that they’re embracing old-school effects puts a big stupid grin on my face.