The tricky art of Star Wars robot mobility

Apart from the visual feast on show at the Art of Star Wars Exhibition, which opened last week at London’s Barbican Centre, visitors will get a glimpse of a little film called Bad Droid Karma.

Any Star Wars fans who still needs convincing about the actual reason for director George Lucas moving from models to digital effects in his film-making need only watch this video. The star of the private show is the small, rolling robot – R2-D2 – which, after 20 years, continues to perplex Star Wars designers.

While filming, its habit of tumbling on stairs, through door jambs, deserts and forests has been the cause of the constant redesigning of the R2 unit, on both sides of the Atlantic. There are currently seven versions of the droid available for any single film scene, which maybe helps to explain why Lucas is bent on designing with digital.

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