Rob Bredow to Deliver “Solo” Keynote at VIEW Conference

by Graham Edwards

Rob Bredow behind the controls of the Millennium Falcon

Visual effects supervisor Rob Bredow behind the controls of the “Millennium Falcon.” Photograph courtesy of ILM.

One of the highlights of VIEW Conference 2018 is sure to be Creatively Driven – The VFX for “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” a keynote presentation by the film’s visual effects supervisor Rob Bredow, who is also senior vice president, executive creative director and head of Industrial Light & Magic.

I’ll be at VIEW this year, covering the conference for Cinefex, and in anticipation of the event I thought I’d dig out an interview I did with Rob earlier this year, while I was researching my own behind-the-scenes article on Solo. I spent a full hour talking with Rob, and a further ten hours chatting with other members of the effects, creature and costume teams – plus the film’s director, Ron Howard – which meant there was a lot of material that had to hit the cutting room floor!

So, here are a few outtakes from my interview with Rob Bredow that didn’t make into the Cinefex article.

Solo: A Star Wars Story in Cinefex 160

CINEFEX: The Millennium Falcon looks a little different in Solo, right?

ROB BREDOW: Right. The concept behind it was that Lando’s kind of a flossy guy! He would add a couple of racing stripes to his ship. It’s got a really well-kept interior, and he would really care about its appearance – there actually used to be some lines about that in the script that didn’t make the final cut. If you look in the background of some of the shots, there’s even a trophy case with a model of the Falcon inside. Our idea was to honor the original design, but during the story to do things that reveal more and more of the Falcon that we all know and love from A New Hope.

CINEFEX: Did you tweak any of the other vehicle designs to fit in with the time period of Solo?

ROB BREDOW: We did a slight earlier generation AT-ST, sort of World War I-inspired. It has operators up in the top of it, so it is similar to the AT-ST that we saw in Return of the Jedi, but it has a big cannon mounted on the front for ground-to-ground combat. That was kind of consistent for everything we did in the film. The Star Destroyers are the ships we know from A New Hope, but there is one new version that has some radar dishes. That only made the final cut in the form of a hologram, but it is in the movie for a second or two!

CINEFEX: Han flies the Falcon through the notorious Kessel Run – what does he encounter along the way?

ROB BREDOW: Well, the environment evolves as we go through the Kessel Run. The Maelstrom is made up of giant space storm clouds – we theorized maybe it’s nitrogen – and there are these giant blocks called carbonbergs, that crash into each other and you have to avoid as you’re flying through the uncharted maw. The things you’re really looking to avoid are the gravity well and the multi-tentacled space monster! It literally is the ‘there be monsters’ section of our movie, harking back to some of those old classic stories.

CINEFEX: You used front projection to provide views out through the Falcon’s cockpit. Did you do that anywhere else in the film?

ROB BREDOW: Yes, for the scenes inside Dryden’s ship, there’s a 360-degree front projection screen wrapped around the windows. Everything you see out those windows was completely finaled in camera. Dryden visits two different locations in the film – Vandor and Savareen – and at a moment’s notice we could flip between the two. Our director of photography Bradford Young used the front projection as one of the main components of his lighting, and all the reflections on the set were captured in camera. I would say the result is better than if we had done a bluescreen or greenscreen composite – and certainly much more efficient for postproduction.

View Conference 2018

Read the complete 22-page Solo article in Cinefex 160, available from our online store. Rob Bredow’s presentation on Solo: A Star Wars Story is scheduled for Tuesday 23 October at VIEW Conference 2018, which takes place  at the Officine Grandi Riparazioni (OGR) in Torino, Italy, October 22 to 26, 2018. Check out the full program and register for talks, workshops, panels, and masterclasses at the VIEW Conference website.