Star Wars 7: JJ Abrams unveils first alien character – and they're all practical effects not CGI

Bearded creature invades video message

As if to reassure fans that it won't be a CGI-fest, Star Wars 7 director JJ Abrams has unveiled a character on the Abu Dhabi set made using practical effects, and a pretty impressive one at that.

Abrams posted a message to fans on YouTube thanking them for their support and offering one chance to be in the movie, but most viewers were distracted by what was going on behind the director.

The on-set video offered the first glimpses of what looks to be Tatooine in the new movie, with extras playing market sellers and the like milling around between stalls.

An alien not seen in the previous films also invades the shot, a bearded, elderly creature carrying a crate on his back filled with birds.

Read more: JJ Abrams pens motivational note to cast as shooting begins in Abu Dhabi

Given how action-orientated Abrams' Star Trek films have been many fans are worried that Star Wars will get a similar treatment, and see more CGI characters like Jar Jar Binks and less real, tangible ones like Chewbacca – but this clip is a good sign.

Principal photography is now underway in Abu Dhabi, though the majority of filming will take place at London's Pinewood Studios.abrams2.jpg

Star Wars: Episode VII currently has a release date of 18 December, 2015.