Empire Magazine continues to roll out their coverage on “The Force Awakens” leading up to the issue’s release tomorrow, and today’s story is all about BB-8!
Empire talked with some production designers on “The Force Awakens” to give us some great insight on how BB-8 was brought to life in the concept stage, during filming, as well as his mind blowing live audience debut at Celebration Anaheim!
Here’s what they had to say about developing BB-8 with Empire:
The droid began life as a quick Abrams sketch. “J.J. wanted something rolling on a sphere,” so I tried a lot of different designs developing that idea,” Concept Designer Christian Alzmann tells Lucasfilm’s Dan Brooks. “He would give direction on the kinds of shapes to use, and that led to a personality for the droid.”
With that personality in place, the small matter of engineering became the focus. “The whole ball-bot concept is something that universities to individuals have played around with,” says Scanlan. “We looked very closely at what one would consider existing technology and decided that it was not far enough advanced.”
Various BB-8s were created for shooting to perform different functions: one for close-ups; a couple with stabiliser wheels; one that could be picked up and interacted with by actors; one that could be thrown into shot without tipping over; and even an old-school rod-puppet version. But while a single fully-functioning, all-purpose BB-8 remained impractical for filming, it was a challenge the design team couldn’t leave alone.
“It had been sort of burning a hole in me,” says Senior Animatronic Designer Joshua Lee. “I started to design this crazy idea of one that would roam around and that we would show to the fans as well. We couldn’t do it for filming, but it had to be done! There are several ways of doing a ball robot, but there was nothing that included an articulated head or anything that could spin on the spot – and that’s one of BB-8’s signature moves. So, I started to design the prototype while Matt [Denton] adapted his existing software to make control of this new BB-8 possible.” The result made his public debut at Anaheim’s Star Wars Celebration last April, and may well play a significant role in Episode VIII.
I love the fact that the Animatronic Designer was not satisfied with not being able to have a single fully functional BB-8 to use for filming, and decided that a single all-purpose BB-8 had to be created. And we definitely saw the fruits of that labor at Celebration Anaheim, as everyone there had their mind blown when BB-8 rolled out on stage.
You can check out the full article over at Empire.