One of the more controversial bits of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the digital resurrection of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin. Cushing passed away in 1994, but his character is central to the history of the Death Star. Not including the character in the film would have required some serious retconning no one wanted to do.
But his inclusion has its critics, some citing the moral implications (though it was done with the blessing of Cushing’s estate), though most of us just thought it was unconvincing. In ILM’s defense though, we also knew Tarkin was a CGI recreation. Perhaps the illusion is more convincing without that information.
In any case, ABC’s Nightline sat down with the folks at Industrial Light and Magic to find out exactly how the digital recreation was created. We’ve embedded the full piece from the show below, and it’s actually pretty interesting. While the effect is imperfect, it does show how close we are to truly being able to create convincing digital performances.
Lucasfilm and ILM are always looking for the next step in cinematic experiences, and with the emergence of decent virtual reality they seem to have found their next frontier… or at least something to mess around with. The Verge is reporting that ILM’s xLab is working on a Darth Vader VR “movie” which will be scripted by David Goyer.
We put the word movie in quotes because it sounds like the project might better be described as an “experience” — as the VR user will be able to interact with the world and characters. Goyer told The Verge:
“You are the visitor in this story that is happening in and around you, and to a certain extent you might even have some effect on [the narrative],” Goyer said. “You can pick up things, you can open things. You can push things, you can walk. You can touch characters.”
The current intent is to make the experience canon to the current Star Wars timeline, so I doubt the user will be able to make any significant narrative changes.
While this sounds like fun, Goyer’s track record is a mixed bag. Clearly this is a neat idea, but it remains to be seen if it will end up executed well.