By now you've all probably seen the picture that was tweeted last week, showing a group of people that include director J.J. Abrams and LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy gathered around an R2-D2 model for the next Star Wars film. What you probably don't know, though, is that the droid in that shot was actually made by a couple of fans, and those same fans will be responsible for constructing the unit that will be used in the film itself. Also of note, from a report in the Star Wars Blog, is that it seems the production won't be relying on CG as much as some fans may fear.
In a bit of "Fanboy Nation Dream Fulfillment,"Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples were hand-picked by Kennedy to participate in the film after the LucasFilm honcho saw their work at a Celebration Europe convention last summer in Germany. She was impressed with an R2-D2 model that the pair had created and, while chatting with them, Steeples made a joke about them being "available" if she needs anything. Well, that proved to be not as far-fetched a notion as he had thought. A few months later the pair was contacted by executive producer Jason McGatlin on Kennedy's recommendation, and were asked to join the creature effects team for "Star Wars: Episode VII." Needless to say, they accepted the offer.
Towersey and Steeples are now knee-deep in developing, and perfecting, the actual R2-D2 models that will be used in the film. They're working on all the logistics and, from the sound of it, it looks like there will be plenty of practical effects used when it comes to "Artoo," because they're working on ways to make sure he can operate on all sorts of terrain. This should come as a great sign to Star Wars fans that are worried that the film will be overly-CG, because one would think it'd be fairly easy to CG relatively-inanimate machines, yet the designers are working on doing it the old-fashioned way.
Kudos to Towersey and Steeples. They're living the dream right now.
"Episode VII" is due out in theaters on December 18, 2015.
SOURCE: Star Wars Blog