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How Steven Spielberg Used VR to Shoot ‘Ready Player One’

The HTC Vive was used to frame shots in VR.

Virtual reality took center stage in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One blockbuster film when it was released March 29th. But we are also learning how immersive technology played a role during the actual production of the movie too.

In a new video shared by HTC Vive, VR is helping push the boundaries of film production by changing the way director Steven Spielberg scouted virtual sets, framed shots in real time, and let the cast step inside a virtual scene.

“They created an avatar for me that you never get see, but my avatar had a virtual camera,” said Spielberg in the video. “I could either do frame grabs or I could do actual shots by walking through the virtual set.”

Since much of Ready Player One’s production included virtual sets, Spielberg needed a way to pre-visualize framing of shots and the placement of cast members wearing only motion capture suits in the studio. Additionally, VR also allowed Spielberg to have elements within the virtual set removed or added in real-time, much like you would with a set in reality—all of which helped streamline production.

Tye Sheridan (Parzival/Wade) visualizing a virtual set.

Virtual sets can also be challenging for actors who are in motion capture suits and aren’t able to see what their environment or surroundings look like. VR helped them pre-visualize the set.

“Its confusing for any actor and a director to walk onto a bare naked set and try to imagine whats there,” said Spielberg. “I asked each of the actors to also put on the headsets and enter the virtual set, so we didn’t have to imagine, it was there.”

Not only will VR help change the way we watch and experience content in the future, virtual production tools like that used on set for Ready Player One will likely become standard with time. I’m sure author Ernest Cline never thought his creation would be made into a film where VR would actually be used to help create it.

“When I was writing Ready Player One, virtual reality was still this science fiction thing in the future that we didn’t have and now we actually have the HTC Vive on the set,” said Ready Player One author Ernest Cline. “So it was amazing that the virtual reality technology that has come about just since the book has been published was used in the movie.”

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of VRScout.

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