That’s it! Thanks for joining us!
A: Lee says it was probably a creature from The Fifth Element. Denton did a lot of the animatronic creatures for The Force Awakens. Towersey and Steeples both built R2-D2 first at home.
Q: What were the first droids you ever made?
(The red carpet version was clocked at 7 km/hour; trike goes 11 km/hour.)
Time for audience questions!
Collins: “I hope we’ll see BB-8 again sometime.”
They then took BB-8 to the premiere of The Force Awakens. “It was quite a journey,” says Denton.
They debuted it at Celebration. “It was one of those moments where you’re heart’s pounding,” Denton says. Thankfully, it worked, and the audience went wild.
They built a protoype and got approval and funding to finish their work — that’s the red carpet version!
When Harrison Ford injured his ankle, they were given a month off. During that time, Lee figured out how to make completely remote-operated BB-8.
Denton brings the trike onstage! He operates it remotely with his right hand.
They had two trike versions, left and right, for camera placement.
The first set up of the entire production was Rey with BB-8 by her speeder. Trike version was used!
They were able to determine weight and power and torc ahead of time.
The first thing they did was build it in a physics simulator. “We showed this to Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams and said, ‘This is what we’re going to build.’ Bless them, they believed us,” Lee says.
The trike version was remote controlled. “It had to go everywhere, do everything,” Lee says. He came up with a concept model — grey with 3-wheel drive. Denton came in and helped!
“Best shoot I’ve ever been on.” – Denton
For the scene when BB-8 falls on John Boyega, they used a special light version. Otherwise, he would’ve been crushed.
They used lots of materials that could withstand sand and the sun in Abu Dabi.
Showing a “pushing” model — BB-8 with large handles attached, so you could steer him.
By having BB-8’s head as a separate piece, he was much easier to emote than Artoo.
By experimenting with the puppet, they figured out how he would move and emote.
Lee took half a day to work with a basic puppet – he shows it to the crowd, the first time shown publicly!
They came up with 4 main versions, but 7 total.
They thought about a “number of ways” to bring BB-8 to life. “But actually for filming, you need something bulletproof.”
Lee talks about Neal Scanlan, the head of creature effects. “Can you think about how you’d do R2-D2,” Scanlan asked. But then he said, “You’re not going to be working on R2-D2…there’s a new droid.” And he showed him J.J.’s concept sketch (on the back of a post-it!).
Now onto BB-8!
Detail and weathering was hand-painted onto the droids.
A lot of the droids were prebuilt by fans, except the Artoos, which they all built.
They created different Artoos. Some with panels that opened, one that wobbled.
Now showing shots from behind the scenes — J.J. Abrams inspecting domes, picking ones he liked.
Now operating it onstage!
They upgraded the mouse droid, made astromechs, and created a new Imperial-style droid.
Towersey recounts the story of how at Celebration Europe, he joked to Kathleen Kennedy that he’d like to work on Episode VII. That’s how he and Steeples were hired.
Oliver Steeples, Lee Towersey, Matt Denton, and Josh Lee take the stage!
Hi, everyone! Welcome to the panel! David Collins takes the stage!