Late last year Rogue One: A Star Wars Story filmed some really cool stuff that advances the ways space flight will be filmed for Star Wars movies. I am not exaggerating when I say the techniques being used are highly impressive and are most likely going to bring some of the coolest Star Wars visuals the audience has ever seen.
Just before Christmas 2015, on Q Stage of Pinewood Studios as we were pumped to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One was filming X-wing sequences. I saw some stuff of an X-wing fighter on a gimbal, kind of like how they put the Falcon cockpit on a gimbal to make the flying and motion very realistic in The Force Awakens. For Rogue One the X-wings and similar ships were put onto gimbals and filmed against a gigantic screen.
The screen is where things get really interesting. The screen wraps almost 360 degrees around the ship and projects the environment around the ship. So the camera can film the ship, the pilot, and whatever is going on in the frame and it looks immersive not only for the actors but the audience. The screen is pretty much like an IMAX-sized screen that wraps around the ship being filmed.
The size of the screen looks like it could be around 40 feet high. It wraps entirely around the size of a full X-wing fuselage. In the stuff I glimpsed, it didn’t have wings on it. It looked like the X-wing was flying in the atmosphere towards some mountains (but that is honestly inconclusive as it looked bright and washed out from the projection in what I saw).
At this time we don’t have confirmation on if the gigantic screens are being used for other places and environments in the film. But with the use of a communications tower in the film, there’s a chance the giant screen has seen more action than just X-wing flight.
Ever since I saw these screens I have been dying to see what flight is going to look like in the Rogue One.
You can see a smaller version of a similar screen here used for the film Oblivion:
Check out this projection doc from Oblivion to see a little more on the technique that originated with Stanley Kubrick on 2001: