Star Wars fans around the galaxy recently celebrated  The Empire Strikes Back‘s 40th anniversary. But the party isn’t over just yet. The team from Industrial Light & Magic responsible for the movie’s special effects got together for a virtual reunion. They shared behind-the-scenes tales and offered insights into the work that went into making of the film, including how matte paintings, stop-motion animation, practical effects, specially-designed cameras, and more helped create one of the most important movies ever made.

Industrial Light & Magic held a very special livestream event as part of the massive celebration for The Empire Strikes Back‘s four decade anniversary. ILM’s VFX Supervisor Bill George moderated an 80-minute discussion with the effects legends behind The Empire Strikes Back. (Which followed an incredible four-minute behind-the-scenes video.) Dennis Muren, Joe Johnston, Phil Tippett, and Lorne Peterson all joined in from the safety of their homes for the virtual roundtable. All four worked on the original film and without them, Star Wars would not be what it is today.

Muren served as the film’s visual effects director of photography. He was behind the camera for many of the movie’s iconic shots. Johnston was the visual effects art director and key contributor to the overall Star Wars look. Tippett served as the movie’s stop motion animator, and his work included making a mini tauntaun puppet come to life. And Peterson was the chief model maker who led the film’s vital miniature and optical effects unit.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK's Special Effects Team Reunited_1 IL&M

With their combined efforts working alongside George Lucas, their matte paintings, practical props, camera work, and detailed miniatures made the galaxy far, far away feel as real as our own. And these legends stories are as fascinating as the indelible images they brought to the screen. (You can also hear more from them with Star Wars’ oral history about the film.)

Clearly even after 40 years both fans and the people who made the movie still can’t get enough of The Empire Strikes Back. 

Featured Image: IL&M