‘Rogue One’ Director Used VR To Plan Film’s Digital Scenes

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The experimental director brought VR to one of the biggest productions of the year.

In his ongoing attempt to tackle every experimental form of filmmaking imaginable, hands-on director Gareth Edwards has never been shy about his love for employing new technology in his productions. So when it was confirmed that he’d be directing the latest installment in one of the biggest franchises in the history of film, it’s no surprise he’d really push some boundaries. Well according to a new behind-the-scenes look at some of the films’ production, Edwards actually used VR to stage and direct some of the films CGI scenes.

rogue-one-vr-filming2In a recent visit to visual-effects studio ILM London, BBC Click got an up-close look at some the digital design behind the film, including how they used VR to choreograph some of the films digital camerawork. First, the team would load up a digital rough draft of a particular scene. Then using a ‘real-time virtual reality system,’ aka an HTC Vive and an iPad strapped to an HTC Vive controller, Edwards would use SteamVR tracking to physically mimic how the camera would move around the scene from start to finish. The sequence was recorded and used as a reference for the final product. The video shows exactly how much freedom Edwards had to comfortably move around and replicate his intended shots with precision. This made conveying his desires and ideas to the graphics team significantly simpler.

“He would walk around and decide where he wanted the shots to start and end,” Ellis said. “This was how Gareth was filming, moving around and finding interesting framing.”

It’s extremely exciting to see virtual reality used so extensively on one of the biggest films of the year. It’s especially impressive when you see how this new method was used to make some of the most visually-stunning scenes of the movie. Based off the videos and gifs, it appears as though some of my favorite shots were planned utilizing virtual reality, a realization that gives me much hope for the future of VR in the film industry.

rogue-one-vr-filmingIt’s being reported that Iron Man director Jon Favreau will also be using VR in the production of his upcoming live-adaptation of The Lion King. The successful filmmaker is no stranger to the emerging technology having been a vocal advocate for its use in film. He also received the Harold Lloyd Award at the 2017 Lumiere Awards for his use of VR in Gnomes & Goblins. Hopefully prolific filmmakers like Gareth Edwards and Jon Favreau continue to use their massive influence to continue making use of virtual reality in large-scale Hollywood productions. After seeing the beautiful results of Rogue One, there’s no doubt you’ll be seeing a lot more of it behind-the-scenes.

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