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How Your New Favorite Star Wars Character, BB-8, Went From Concept To Set

Illustration for article titled How Your New Favorite iStar Wars/i Character, BB-8, Went From Concept To Set

From the moment we saw it rolling across the sand in the first teaser trailer, we’ve all been fascinated by BB-8. The new droid who’ll be palling around with the characters in Star Wars The Force Awakens is unique, adorable, and now we know its story.

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The official Star Wars website has posted a long, detailed history of BB-8, from the first concepts to actually getting the “Ball Bot” on set, and then finally, fully realizing the character’s potential after filming, on stage at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim.

You can read the full article here, but here’s a quick summation.

BB-8 was born on a napkin. Co-writer and director of The Force Awakens J.J. Abrams realized his idea by drawing two circles with an eyeball. That sketch went to the concept designers and after a back and forth, they had a rough idea of what BB-8 was going to be. And yes, soccer balls were referenced.

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Once the design was locked, a bold decision was made to make BB a practical effect. The people tasked with making that happen looked at modern technologies of similar types of robots and while there were some that were close, nothing was right. They finally realized if they did multiple different versions, some of which would have elements that could be removed digitally, the task was less daunting.

The first version made was a puppet but it took the team behind it weeks to actually figure out how to make it expressive enough for the film. In fact, Abrams didn’t see the finished product until a week before shooting. He admitted, if it didn’t work out, the character would have been digital.

With the puppet set for shooting, the team built a few other versions of the droid for different scenes. Some for close-ups, some for moving, some for the actors to hold, and then of course the puppet, which was the main one.

After filming was finished, though, the team behind BB-8 thought they could go further. That they could actually make one that moved without any kind of aid or puppetry. A fully functioning, rolling, radio-controlled robot. Designs here made, funds were allotted and by the time Star Wars Celebration came around in April, fans got to see it in action. (You can check it out around 40 seconds into this video.)

Now that BB-8 has reached his full potential, it sounds like that version of may just be the one we see in Star Wars Episode VIII and beyond.

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Again, read the full story at the below link.

[Star Wars]

Contact the author at germain@io9.com.

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