The visual development reel we put together at OOU. Design, planning and execution.

In Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, Rey enters a hidden place, a "void" in which she sees an endless line of her own reflections... They all move along with her but not in unison. Time seems to travel down the line of Reys slowly, resulting in a subtle "echo" for each of her actions...

Following are a few words about my involvement in the design, shoot and post production for the Mirror Cave sequence in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. My role was that of on-set VFX supervisor for the Mirror Cave sequence (along with VFX supervisors Dominic Parker and Guido Wolter) and that of CG supervisor for all of OOU's work for the project.

"... We talked about family and spirituality and what this stuff means to us: Rey searching for identity. I had this image of never-ending arrays of Reys. It’s about the possibilities of self, and playing cinematically, following down the line, with which one is the real her. Rian Johnson, IndieWire

The great thing about our involvement at One Of Us with SW The Last Jedi was that we got in very early in the game... Ben Morris (the overall VFX supervisor) got us in to deal with the challenges and difficulties of the Mirror Cave sequence back when it had just been story-boarded. (We only got two pages from the script and some boards).The main questions we needed to answer were: How do you shoot an endless line of people where time seems to "echo" from one end to the other? How do you do it without completely destroying Rian's creative process and what the hell happens when you start moving the camera around?

We were no strangers to multi-camera setups but this still led to head-scratching conversations about cameras, perspectives, lenses and rigs but also such concepts as "the ideal length between reflections" (an arm’s length) "the direction in which time travels" (from entrance to exit) or "shooting flopped for inside the void" (we are, after all, inside a mirror!). We even did an in-house shoot with five 5Ds... That's when we also came upon the term "bikeshedding" (look it up)

The long travelling down the line shot was the only that required "digi-doubles". Rey's performance was captured from all necessary angles and then projected onto roto animated geometry.

After previzing the sequence, we simulated the entire shoot virtually and produced accurate schematics for all of the camera positions along with quicktimes showing what each camera "should" be seeing and a top-down representation of the set and performance. We developed a tool that allowed us to set the shot from a hero camera and then get the positions for our "real" multiple ones, along with a real-time comp from each feed. This would tell us instantly if the shot was possible or if there were obstruction issues. Overall this allowed us to explore the limits of what was possible on set and then export and present all the information in order to inform the shooting process.

The thawing frost effect was made using an L-system setup in Houdini. “... And she descends down into there and has to see, just like Luke did in the cave, her greatest fear. And her greatest fear is that, in the search for identity, she has nobody but herself to rely on.” Rian Johnson, IndieWire.

The underwater shot just after Rey falls through the "rabbit hole" and into the depths of the cave required a full CG environment. The design of the cave and the creature's skull were based on a concept provided by ILM

It was very important to get all the on-set measurements right in order to win over the crew and get on the right side of the DOP and the 1st AD. Then, on set, we made sure the instructions were followed and offered Rian a real-time "smash" comp from all the camera feeds as well as a rough edit of the sequence as we went along. This was done in coordination with the video split guys who would provide us with compressed quicktimes from their feed which would then be quickly keyed and put together using premade nuke scripts.

The entrance to the cave required a full CG seaweed hole. This was made procedurally in Houdini and had many iterations in terms of design.

After our very successful shoot, we said our goodbyes and took the sequence in-house. Overall, the Mirror Cave sequence involved CG environments, digi-doubles, camera moves and 3D projections along with complicated 2D work and a lot of look dev! In addition to that, we also contributed to some major pieces for one of the space battles and several shots for the Casino sequence.