What happens when drone pilots at the top of their game join forces with a digital effects powerhouse? Everyone who has ever dreamed about piloting an X-wing is glued to the screen.
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Nerd culture is now high art. And I’m not talking about the faux stylings of out-of-work MFA dropouts who paint oh-so-ironic knock-offs of the masters, only with Vader wandering through the Water Lilies. I’m talking about an homage that is so over-the-top sophisticated that it transcends fan art and becomes something larger.
And here’s today’s example. The video below, made by Corridor Digital, must have begun with a simple premise. Corridor Digital specializes in special effects. When they needed to add some drones to the mix, they called in the experienced drone team from Rotor Riot to help them out.
We all want to fly our own X-Wings or Tie-Fighters. But we can’t. My generation had to content itself with Snap-Tite models and fireworks. Shove a bottle rocket or four in the thrusters of your 1:48 scale X-Wing, flick your bic, and throw it across the yard.
But the drones in this video are actually flying. And thanks to the exceptional camera work, we get to experience much of it vicariously. The bigger your screen, the better the ride. And the better the crash.
Some of the footage is captured with stunning detail. The camera manages to pull off the first-person perspective of the pilot, complete with in-focus cockpit details, while not losing the focus on the fast moving landscape outside. And the whole things zips by without feeling sped up.
I wish to hell I’d thought of this, too. It is that good. At one level, Star Wars drones on a YouTube video really does seem like low-hanging fruit. Yet the execution here really elevates it into a genuine adrenaline-laced feel-good romp.
And if that wasn’t enough for the nerd in all of us, there’s actually a hint of narrative here, too. The end, which features some epic crashes, features a new character–and it isn’t who you’d expect to see crawling out of a toasted Tie-Fighter.
I just can’t help but wonder how George feels about this. The special effects and flying scenes in here are so much more organic than those his crew spent weeks perfecting back in the mid-70s. Technology has brought this kind of film making into reach of everyone–in no small part because of Lucas’s vision, talent, and ability to get the most out of his creative teams.
So click play and enjoy, and keep scrolling down–there are more videos below.
For those of you who want to see more of the thrills and skills of Rotor Riot, check out this behind-the-scenes video. It is informative. And if you’re anything like me, you can’t watch something like this without really wanting to take it apart.
And for those needing even more, like how they got all of the digital and analog effects synced up so perfectly, check out this video. These guys are all jacked up on caffeine and bouncing off the walls, but the work they produce manages to hold that perfect edge between the frenetic and the surreal.