Toys and costumes have always been a huge part of Star Wars fandom, so Pinewood Studios’ Propshop booth drew a huge crowd at Star Wars Celebration this weekend.
Propshop builds props for a variety of movies including Star Wars—and, as of this year, it manufactures high-end replicas for Star Wars fans. Their line of collectibles from The Force Awakens consists of four helmets and four weapons, all of which look exactly like the versions seen in the movie.
They also cost well over a thousand dollars each, which explains why so many people were eager to see them up close for likely the first and only time. The Propshop booth was basically a museum exhibit for things like Rey’s staff and Kylo Ren’s helmet.
Most fans had seen these props online already, but the booth also introduced an intriguing new idea that came directly from Propshop’s work on the Star Wars movies: personalized character maquettes.
During The Force Awakens and Rogue One, the Propshop crew were tasked with making 3D scans of props and actors. You may recognize their photo rig from pictures of motion-capture performers like Lupita Nyong’o, but they scanned regular live-action actors as well. In Rogue One they even scanned the extras, tying into Gareth Edwards‘ immersive filming technique on a 360-degree set, where crew members had to dress as background characters in case they were caught in shot.
The resulting 3D models are useful for continuity purposes, but they’re also used for CGI sequences, video game references, and detailed action figures. Once an actor has been scanned, Pinewood Studios has their face, body, and costume on file—which is a little creepy, but also kind of fascinating.
And at Star Wars Celebration, Propshop had its own 3D camera rig on site.
This rig is just for head shots, taking hi-res images of your head from 50 different angles. The process is instantaneous, a blinding flash of light followed by a slew of clinically unflattering photos appearing on the technician’s computer. But the camera rig wasn’t just there to give people a taste of being an actor on the Star Wars set. Its main job was obtaining reference material for personalized, 3D printed action figures.
If you can find your way to Propshop’s store at Harrods in London, you’ll soon be able to order a miniature copy of your own 3D printed head, attached to the body of an X-Wing pilot, stormtrooper, or TIE fighter pilot in full uniform.
At a staggering £1,595 ($2,111), these are clearly out of most people’s price range. Still, it’s an interesting insight into the way Lucasfilm uses the technology it develops for its films.
Just as the special effects in the original trilogy revolutionized filmmaking, Pinewood’s 3D scanners are feeding into the new virtual-reality films from ILMxLAB, Star Wars video games, and replica merchandise. It says a lot about the R&D side of Lucasfilm, which sometimes feels more like a tech company than a traditional movie studio.
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