We Talk BB-8 and Aliens with Matt Denton

We Talk BB-8 and Aliens with Matt Denton

This week we’re sitting down with Matt Denton
to talk about all the creatures and droids
he helped bring to life.
Plus we’re showing you one of the coolest
jobs at Lucasfilm you might not know about.
Roll that intro, Frank!
This is The Star Wars Show!
From the Lucasfilm headquarters in San Francisco, here’s your hosts, Andi and Anthony!
Hello and welcome to the Star Wars Show, a
Star Wars Show that has had so much going
on this month that it completely forgot to
celebrate it’s 3rd anniversary.
Oh wow, really?
Yeah, here let’s fix that.
(Party sounds)
There. Anniversary marked.
Hopefully the rest of the show is filled with
more excitement and revelry just like this.
Only one way to find out. By going to the
news…right now!
Star Wars: Galaxy’s…
Don’t worry, it’s still a party.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge may be a few days
away from opening to the public at Disneyland
Resort in Anaheim this Friday, but if you’re
clamoring for a first look, you only have
to wait a few more hours.
That’s because tonight The Disney Parks blog will be live streaming the historic dedication moment.
The stream begins at 8:20PM pacific, 11:20
eastern and promises to be full of Star Wars surprises.
The land itself opens on Friday, and requires
a reservation to enter during the first few weeks.
For more information on both the livestream
and the free reservations system required
to enter Galaxy’s Edge check out the Disney
Parks Blog at this link.
Last week marked the 20th anniversary of The
Phantom Menace being released in theaters,
and Star Wars.com celebrated with an exhaustive
oral history of the making of the film.
The article includes insights from creators
like: Doug Chaing, John Knoll, Ben Burtt,
Ahmed Best, George Lucas and more.
Plus it’s full of early concept designs,
behind the scenes imagery, and lots and lots
of Q-tips.
The entire article is available to read right
now on StarWars.com/SWS
Finally this week, the droids, creatures and
aliens of Star Wars have always been a favorite
of mine. That’s why I was super excited
to get a chance to sit down with one of the
people responsible for bringing them to life,
literally, because he built the animatronics.
My friend Matt Denton is here and he’s a wizard.
You have made some amazing Star Wars magic
over the years.
I mean most notably BB-8.
But you’ve also been in charge of a lot
of the animatronics and creature shop.
How did you get involved in Star Wars?
Actually it was lucky because Josh Lee, who
also is one of BB-8’s creators, Josh phoned
up and said I’ve just started on this film,
I can’t tell you what it is, but I’m designing
a robot and would you be interested in coming
in and seeing if it’s even possible to make it work.
And I went in and he showed me this ball droid
design and this was for the tryke.
He was trying to figure out if he could put
stabilizer wheels on the back and they can
all steer together and stuff.
So I went in and started on a simulation.
So you started building BB-8 and there were
7 that were used for the films, with their
different motions and features.
But then when you had to build the live event
droid, did you have any idea how people were
going to respond to him at Celebration Anaheim
or were you surprised?
Yeah, that one bit of footage came out, didn’t
it, with him rolling along in the desert.
I had to ask the head of ILM in the UK, is
that ours or have you done that?
And he said, no that yours.
We doctored the head, the head was sort of
bouncing about a bit and it was really fast.
It was the puppet being pushed as fast as
So coming out live, I think we knew it was
going to go down well.
Everyone we showed it to was like, how does
it work?
You know, it was like a magic trick.
What do you think it is about BB-8 that people
just immediately connected to?
There’s something special about that design.
When we were looking at characterizing BB-8
I think we all saw it like a little puppy.
You can get so much character out of that head.
Having the ball and head, you can just sort of…
Tilt it.
Dip it to one side or you can drop it down
and look sad.
You can do so much with it.
So straight away that character came out.
People always want to talk about BB-8 but
some of my favorite work that you’ve done
is on the creatures because they’re just
so cool!
They’re so cool!
They’re my favorite part, I love aliens.
When you switch gears when your working on
a robot and then working on something that’s
supposed to be alive, tell me about how that
changes your process and outlook.
Nearly every alien head that you’ve seen
over the past 5 years has been across my desk
at some point and I’ve done something on it.
The difference between that and a droid is
trying to hide the robot within.
So a lot of my time is spent over the years
writing software and developing techniques
to make things look more organic.
Little things like the way they blink and
when they blink, I can put little automated
stuff into them now.
Six Eyes was one of the best examples of that
cause it had this head tracking unit on it
and Martin Rezard who sculpted Six Eyes, that design, and Gustav Hoegen who did the animatronic for it.
Gustav put like 58 motors in the head or something
to get all the eyes moving together.
So then I really had this thing to play around
with and it was just a joy.
There are techniques that we used on Six Eyes
that I would like to make simpler because
to set that system up, it took me like days
to get that working nicely.
So it’s just about making things more bulletproof
and user friendly.
So you work is incredibly inspiring to me
and I’m sure it is to a lot of Star Wars fans.
I’m sure there are a lot of kids watching
this, going like I want to build robots, I
want to make creatures.
What’s the kind of advice that you would
give them and kind of follow that path.
Build something that really interests you.
I built things all the time as a kid and took
things apart.
I love taking things apart.
Well that’s super cool.
Always a pleasure talking to you, thank you
so much for coming by.
Thank you.
You’re watching The Star Wars Show!
Have you ever messed around in Vader Immortal
and just put party lights?
I think Vader probably throws a pretty wicked
party, honestly.
What kind of wig would he wear?
Definitely a rainbow fro.
My name is Ronman Ng, I’m a lighting technical
director at ILMxLAB.
As a lighting TD my job is akin to lighting
a puppet set where you have control over the
light sources, how many light sources you
have, where you place them, where the shadow
falls, what color the lights are.
Which is kind of what I do in a computer animated set.
My background is in computer animation so
the big difference for me is that the tools
that I have are real time tools.
One of the things that is great about it is
that the feedback is instantaneous and I can
make a change and put on my headset and go
into VR and take a look and see how my decisions
have worked out.
One of the first projects I worked on was
Secrets of the Empire, and my role on that
was to be the lighting TD.
It was a one person job and it was amazing.
Because I basically lit it, the whole thing,
and got to learn how it works.
Good lighting is important because if it’s
not good you’re not going to feel like your
in a believable world, you’re not going
to connect as readily with both the story
and the characters your with.
I think part of the challenge is to make it
look good enough that you can believe that
Vader is standing next to you.
I think being in VR and working with VR does
expand your imagination.
I think it makes you aware of what else is
ILMxLAB, they do a lot of immersive and experiential
design and so it’s the cutting edge of both
entertainment and technology.
For me it makes me imagine what else I could do with this medium and hopefully can inspire other people.
While the two of us are beyond excited to
head to Black Spire Outpost when Star Wars
Galaxy’s Edge opens this Friday, our ever
loyal viewers are ready to break into Batuu
like a Fathier busting through a casino full
of War profiteers.
Keri Bean is looking forward to grabbing the
rag doll style toys, Kayla of Wendt is ready
to jam out to DJ Rex, predicting every song
slaps, while Darth Demi is looking forward
to hopefully catching a sunrise against the
Chris Niles is looking forward to making an astromech,
and the appropriately named
Batuu Jedi cannot wait to build their first
lightsaber and then use the Kyber Crystal
in a Holocron while discovering some lost
Jedi Lore along the way.
That’s a real thing you can do.
But the overwhelming obvious thing people
are looking forward to is seeing the Millennium
Falcon in person, stepping inside, and taking
control of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.
We’re right there with you, and if you ever
need a spare pilot, gunner, or engineer,
you know who to call.
And as always, remember to like the video,
subscribe to the channel, follow us on Twitter,
Facebook, and Instagram, and remember, if
you see our editor Frank out there in real
life or the internet, congratulate him on
getting engaged over the weekend.
Thanks for watching, and may the Force be
with you.
Is she going to take your name? Is she Bianca Star Wars now?
Mr. Star Wars.
Slaps. Is that cool teen lingo that I don’t know?
What’s up fellow teens?
Local youth Andrea Gutierrez says this song slaps.

100 thoughts on “We Talk BB-8 and Aliens with Matt Denton”

  1. This is the week, Disneyland is gonna be crazy for some time. I know a lot of people who won't have reservations will be begging to enter the land. I think it's a good idea to sell some of the GE merch inside Launch Bay because they finally found use for the second level of Innoventions, and it will control crowd flow too as well as the whole experience so you're not busy buying merch

  2. Hey Andi, Anthony how many Lucasfilm employees have already attended the park?

    Edit: I cant wait to find the Pablo Hidalgo easter egg when I go.

  3. Thanks, Andi! Thanks, Anthony! Thanks, Frank (and congratulations on getting engaged)! Thanks, Matt! Thanks, Ronman! 😊

  4. Yyyaaahooooo!!!
    Galaxie's Edge opens up next Friday!!!!!!! 😀 <3
    It will be my personal heaven :3 as i believe that heaven exists for everyone in a different form 🙂

    ILMxLAB is always making a fantastic epic awesome job and everytime i'm after a new Star Wars movie, i'm not only thinking about the story but also about the music and the special effects from ILM! 🙂 VR is the future now for new games and it really make people expand the creativity so that is why it's easy to tell a new star wars story within the VR experience to really feel the area and characters that player can interract with! 😀

    BB-8 is special even if R2 is the classic droid we all love. BB units in general have this original design and i really love them all :3 BB-8 have those expretions that makes him look sad, shocked and even happy. Now that DIO will come out in TROS, BB-8 will have a nice new friend to talk to :3

  5. I love the extra credit part, we need this in every episode. It would be nice to learn more about all the people whose names just fly by us on a credit screen that work so hard to make the things we love.

  6. nice inspiration, always. the nerd me wants to try building all of that tech at some point in time. 🙂 yeh. and ofc, congrats frank. 😀

  7. Excelent video. Always was thinking how BB8 works and about his skeleton! Nice animatrix show also. Cheers!

  8. Who would have thought that cake would live on this long as a running joke?

    Next thing we know, it'll be jokes about the Frank Star Wars kids. Those babies would be in costumes while in still in the hospital for sure.

  9. I have an issue of a british lego magazine called Blocks, and in it Matt Denton sat down with the magazine team and built the BB-8 lego set, and it was really interesting seeing his insight on BB-8

  10. BB Eight is one of my favorite droids from Star Wars the force awakens and the last Jedi. I cannot wait to see him in Star Wars episode nine The Rise of Skywalker. Also, are Andy and Anthony engaged?

  11. I legit want to be a prop maker and animatronics person as a career but dont know where to start. I was hoping he was gonna give legit advice to getting into the field.

  12. I told my mom that I really want to go to the galaxy ‘s edge, but I think we’re too poor.
    But I hope you’re gonna have amazing experience and have a fun!
    Someday I’ll be Jedi to go to the galaxy’s edge! And i hope my dreams come true.
    スターウォーズ最高!エピソード9 楽しみ!ギャレクシーズエッジに行きたい!

  13. Andi obviously did that interview after a lunch with a drink or two (maybe 3?). But I'm not complaining.

  14. I’m looking forward to dawning a First Order Red Fury officer’s uniform and being apart of the immersive experience while at Galaxy’s Edge.

  15. Galaxies edges sucks, no Dark Vader no Luke no prequel. Mite as well call it woke Star Wars. #whereisdarkvader.

  16. Younglings! Younglings! Younglings! Younglings! Younglings! Younglings! Younglings! Younglings! Younglings! Younglings! Younglings! Younglings!

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