So Wired has this fantastic oral history of ILM. If you’ve never heard of Industrial Light and Magic before, I guarantee, you’ve see its work:
A very short excerpt from the article:
LUCAS: The big challenge on Empire was Yoda. We knew how to fly spaceships; the thing we didn’t know how to do was have a 2-foot creature make you believe that it was a real live thing and not just a Muppet.
RON HOWARD (DIRECTOR, PRODUCER): I remember going over to the old warehouses he’d rented, and what they were doing on Empire was jaw-dropping. I felt absolutely like the kid who’d gotten into Santa’s workshop at the North Pole.
SPIELBERG: It was just a great place to hang out: mad sound scientists, mad visual scientists, and in between shots we’d go set off M-80 firecrackers between buildings and shake up the whole neighborhood. I was in my early thirties, and it was the most fun playground I had ever been to.