Ready Player One Oasis

In Ready Player One, much of the action takes place inside a virtual universe called the Oasis – a vast collection of digital planets where people can be whoever they want to be and basically do whatever they want. We know director Steven Spielberg put his actors in performance capture suits to film those sequences, but what did their physical set actually look like during production?

Below, Spielberg explains how he shot those complex Ready Player One Oasis scenes.

At the Ready Player One press junket, The Beard and his cast – Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, and Lena Waithe – described how they filmed those scenes inside the film’s virtual world:

Spielberg: You have to understand that we made the movie in an abstract set. The only way the cast had a chance to understand where they were – we all had virtual reality Oculus* goggles. Inside the goggles was a complete build of the set that you [see in] the movie. When you took the goggles off, it was a bit white space. It was a 4,000 square foot empty space called a volume. When you put the goggles on, it was Aech’s basement, or Aech’s workshop, or the Distracted Globe [club]. So the actors had a chance to say, ‘OK, if I walk over there, there’s the door. There’s the DJ.’ It was really an out of body experience filming this movie. It’s very hard to really express what that was like.

Cooke: It was wonderful because we were just living in our imagination for five months. We hadn’t had a chance to do that since we were children. To be able to completely rely on our guts and our interaction with Steven, that’s what made it so special and so different from anything I think any of us had ever done before.

Waithe: When we got to live action, it’s like, ‘Oh OK, this is real world now.’

Sheridan: When we got to live action, everybody was like (sighs dramatically). (Everyone laughs)

Waithe: It was hard, but not as hard as when you’re just in an empty space and anything is possible.

***

I’ve been lucky enough to witness this technology up close before, and it’s pretty incredible. Filmmakers and actors can step inside a rendered virtual set without having to physically build it, providing them with a simulated, not-as-impressive version of what the final movie will look like. It may not be perfect until the visual effects vendors work their magic, but it’s close enough to immerse them into the story they’re trying to tell. Hopefully we’ll see some cool featurettes about the making of this movie before too long so we can take an even closer look at it.

Ready Player One hits theaters on March 29, 2018.

Update: During the film’s press conference, Spielberg mentioned he and his cast used Oculus headsets on the film’s set. But Warner Bros. reached out to us on behalf of HTC Vive to ask for a clarification: according to them, Spielberg misspoke. Apparently, tech from HTC Vive was actually used on the set during the making of the movie, not Oculus.

They’re telling me HTC Vive partnered with WB to help make the movie, as well as to produce additional VR experiences that will be released later this month. There’s a chance that A) Spielberg could have also used an Oculus headset on the set even though he was officially partnered with HTC and they simply didn’t know about it, or B) Spielberg may have offhandedly mentioned Oculus headsets during the press conference simply as a blanket term for a VR headset. I’m awaiting further clarification and will update this page again if I hear anything more. Apologies for any confusion.

Update #2, March 18, 2018: According to Girish Balakrishnan, the lead virtual production developer for Digital Domain, Spielberg didn’t misspeak after all. It turns out a combination of brands were used during the making of the movie, including Oculus. Again, sorry for the confusion.

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