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Space Scenes In 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' Directed In Virtual Reality Through HTC Vive

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story utilized various techniques during its production, one of which was the controversial method that allowed the movie to feature the late Peter Cushing in a prominent role as Grand Moff Tarkin.

A new report reveals another production technique used in the film by director Gareth Edwards himself that taps into virtual reality technology.

'Rogue One' Director Utilized VR

A recent episode by BBC Click revealed that virtual reality technology played a significant role in how Edwards directed digital scenes in Rogue One, including those that took place in space.

One of the best aspects of Rogue One is the intense camera work that Edwards utilized that provided a unique look at the Star Wars universe through the story of Jyn Erso and the mission to acquire the plans of the Death Star.

Being a Star Wars movie, there were several scenes in space that received praise, primarily the battle sequences, as dynamic angles and spaceship perspectives were used in a way unlike the methods used by the original Star Wars trilogy.

Edwards, known to be a very hands-on director, was able to bring his camerawork into the digital scenes of Rogue One through virtual reality. According to Steve Ellis, computer graphics supervisor for Industrial Light and Magic, this was done so through what they call a real-time virtual reality system.

The system was basically just an iPad that was connected to an HTC Vive virtual reality controller. Edwards and ILM worked with the system by pulling up a digital scene, and then, utilizing the SteamVR tracking capabilities of the HTC Vive, Edwards would move the screen around. By doing so, Edwards was able to pinpoint the angles of the camerawork for the digital scenes, with the digital artists then following the director's orders.

By utilizing the system, Edwards did not have to write down the angles that he wanted for the camerawork for the scenes in space, nor was he forced to try to explain the angles in words. Instead, Edwards was able to show the digital artists what he wanted, and was able to engage them in a back-and-forth process that resulted in the stunning shots shown in Rogue One.

Virtual Reality In Making Movies

While utilizing a combination of an iPad and an HTC Vive for the direction of digital scenes in Rogue One is likely a first for the industry, using virtual reality in movie production is certainly not new. The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson used a form of augmented reality for different shots with visual effects, and a lot of developments in simulcam technology were created for Avatar, directed by James Cameron.

What sets the virtual reality technology used in Rogue One apart, however, is the fact that the devices used are easily accessible as part of the consumer market. If a director was able to use a readily available virtual reality system to help direct a massive movie such as Rogue One, consumers may be able to find interesting alternative applications for the technology as well.

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