The rule every computer generated character had to follow involved intention. The book explains that visual effects production supervisor John Knoll’s team had to add characters to scenes like the ones on the streets of Mos Espa on Tatooine, but they couldn’t just put them in willy-nilly. They had to have a purpose. Visual effects producer Judith Weaver explained:
“If we put a CG character in a shot, we had to have it doing something. We had to come up with a story for that character. We couldn’t just stick things in the background. There had to be a reason for it to be there.”
Having just rewatched the Mos Espa street scenes, I can absolutely see that intention. Every creature there (including the adorable banthas) seems to have a purpose. They’re clearly meeting friends, heading to a street cart for food, looking at vehicles, guarding doorways — doing things that flesh and blood (or prosthetic-heavy) characters would do.
Whatever you think about the prequels overall, you have to appreciate the efforts of the visual effects teams. A lot of time, the work these artists do isn’t going to be noticed, and yet, if it weren’t done well, the entire scene — the entire world, even — would feel completely dead. You might not know that a scene didn’t land with you because the bantha was just standing there or the people were wandering aimlessly, but you’d feel it. Keep an eye out for background creatures in the next sci-fi or fantasy film/show you watch, and take a moment to appreciate the people who make the scene feel lived in. After all, that’s one of “Star Wars” franchise’s greatest strengths.
All the “Star Wars” shows and films are currently streaming on Disney+.