Spielberg immerses his cast in a virtual set while filming certain VR scenes.
It turns out VR played a more integral role in Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One film than we previously thought. Set in a dystopian 2044, Ready Player One follows Wade Watts as he leads an army of VR users in a battle to save the OASIS, a virtual world that allows them to escape their dreary reality.
Some of these virtual locations are absolutely jaw-dropping and include features that more often than not bend the laws of physics. Obviously it would be pretty daunting, if not impossible to physically recreate these sets for the actors to perform in. This is often why directors will throw their talent into massive green screen sets while wearing motion capture suits and leave it entirely up to their imagination. For a performer, this isn’t exactly the most stimulating environment, which can be especially troublesome when you’re interacting with a world as captivating as the OASIS.
That’s why director Steven Spielberg thought it necessary to let his actors experience the sensation of walking into that dazzling virtual universe using actual modern VR technology.
Speaking at an official Ready Player One press junket, Spielberg went into detail on how he used a mix of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets to immerse his cast in the world their characters would be seeing in the film:
“You have to understand that we made the movie in an abstract set,” said Spielberg at the event. “The only way the cast had a chance to understand where they were – we all had virtual reality Oculus* goggles. Inside the goggles was a complete build of the set that you [see in] the movie. When you took the goggles off, it was a bit white space. It was a 4,000 square foot empty space called a volume. When you put the goggles on, it was Aech’s basement, or Aech’s workshop, or the Distracted Globe [club]. So the actors had a chance to say, ‘OK, if I walk over there, there’s the door. There’s the DJ.’ It was really an out of body experience filming this movie. It’s very hard to really express what that was like.”
“It was wonderful because we were just living in our imagination for five months,” added Olivia Cooke who plays Art3mis in the film. “We hadn’t had a chance to do that since we were children. To be able to completely rely on our guts and our interaction with Steven, that’s what made it so special and so different from anything I think any of us had ever done before.”
“When we got to live action, everybody was like (sighs dramatically),” quipped Tye Sheridan aka Wade Watts.
In an update made by Digital Domain’s Girish Balakrishnan to Slashfilm, the lead virtual production developer clarified that HTC Vive partnered with WB to create the film, but a combination of both Vive and Oculus Rift headsets were used throughout production. He also confirmed use of Microsoft HoloLens technology at certain stages as well via Twitter. It looks like Spielberg knows his way around the metaverse!
There’s no footage of headsets being used on set, but you can still see some of the interesting motion capture techniques Spielberg employed throughout the production (looks like video was removed):