The adorable new rolling Star Wars droid is not CGI (Wired UK)


The new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens sent the internet into near-meltdown on its release. But arguably the best video featuring the movie’s stars is totally CGI free.

If you saw the previous Force Awakens trailer, you should remember BB-8, the cute, rolling robot that looked set to inherit R2D2’s crown as the cutest droid in a galaxy far, far away. You would have also assumed, like everyone else, that it was definitely only possible with the help of animators and large, expensive computers.

Apparently not. At least, not entirely.

At a panel for the Star Wars Celebration, director JJ Abrams introduced BB-8 for real — complete with rolling movement and hovering head. The bot trundled onto the stage and managed to keep its head unit in place, presumably with magnets, while the body rolled below. It made R2 — also on stage — look somewhat antiquated by comparison.


“Neil Scanlan and his incredible team […] built and puppeteered BB-8 in the movie, and did an extraordinary job,” Abrams said. “It was better for the actors, better for the film itself — you’ll see their work. It was amazing.”

While BB-8’s brief roll-around on stage is a first public showing of the functional droid, its existence had been outed by returning star Mark Hamill in an interview with Yahoo in December.

In the interview, Hamill said: “They never cease to amaze me with what they’re able to come up with, you know? I said, “How are you ever gonna top R2-D2, the most adorable droid in movie history?” And then they have this new one. I can’t even tell you his name, but you saw it in the trailer. And when they were demonstrating how they did this thing, live on set — because it’s not CGI, that’s a live prop — I was just amazed.”

“They let me play around with it. I was running it all around at the creature shop up in Pinewood. I’m telling you, it’s an absolute delight. And not having thought that I’d ever go back there, to go back into that world, is just – I get the chills. It’s just so much fun.”

The fact that a real-life puppet of BB-8 exists doesn’t mean that the droid will be entirely CGI-free in the movie. It’s likely the puppet acted as a useful stand-in for shooting, and will be enhanced or even replaced in post-production.

Over on Reddit fans are already speculating on the details of how the robot works — and also pointing to an XKCD comic that seems to presage its existence.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser #2Star Wars

Meanwhile the trailer for the Force Awakens is also exciting fans. The trailer features a stricken Imperial starship in an alien desert, while X-Wing fighters skimming over a lake have already sent paroxysms of pleasure through fan sites and social media.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released in December, and looks set to put the beloved franchise back on track in its new home at Disney after three, arguably four bad George Lucas movies in a row.

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17 April 2015 | 8:08 am – Source:


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