Thursday, January 14, 2016

'The Force Awakens' VFX Crew Discuss the BB-8 "Thumbs Up" Moment

By: Dominic Jones

One sequence that never fails to get a reaction out of the audience in Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the moment when BB-8 decides to help Finn out and tell Rey the location of the Resistance base.  After Finn shoots BB-8 a thumbs up as thanks, BB-8 returns the gesture using a lighter to simulate a thumb.  Turns out, this sequence was never in the script and had to be figured out after the scene was shot.

“It was probably something that J.J. either came up with on the day, or certainly came up with later,” Neal Scanlan, the head of The Force Awakens creature shop, told MTV News.

Visual Effects supervisor Roger Guyett described how they mixed practical and digital effects to create the the "thumbs up" moment, saying, “I think it’s a real BB-8 and then we inserted a CG panel and its arm that came out. So all of his tools, if you like, when he fires his wires and he does that stuff, that’s sort of digital CG.”

There was another concern that the team had to overcome when creating the effect,  ILM's Patrick Tubach explains.  “One of the difficult things with animating something like that is you have to be very careful that it doesn’t look like he’s giving you some other sort of gesture! We moved all the pieces around to make sure it was very clearly a thumbs up over any other kind of ’salute.'”

I think it's safe to say they succeeded in creating a memorable, if not iconic, moment for the new film.

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