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Filmmakers create epic Star Wars dogfight with FPV drones and 3D printed cockpits

The filmmakers at Corridor Digital have outdone themselves with their latest video, which presents an epic Star Wars dogfight with FPV drones and 3D-printed cockpits. Not only did they produce an outstanding dogfight film, they also released a fantastic behind-the-scenes video that details all the time and effort that went into the project.

The four-minute dogfight video shows R2-D2 taking off with an X-Wing fighter after being captured by a group of stormtroopers. After taking flight, the diminutive droid is pursued by Tie Fighters who try and fail to shoot him down. As R2 escapes, a surprise ending leaves you on the edge of your seat hoping there will be another installment planned for the future.

The impressive dogfight video was shot in two parts with the FPV drone footage and the cockpit footage recorded separately and then combined in post production. This dual-production process required the combined efforts of the video wizards at Corridor Digital along with the skilled pilots from Rotor Riot, who supplied the drones that crashed and burned in the footage.

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The Rotor Riot team filmed the aerial drone footage using their racing drones and a team of incredibly talented pilots. Some portions of the clip required flips, loops, and even a few white-knuckle passes through a stand of trees. None of it was choreographed, featuring only free-form chase-style flying with the occasional crash and burn. The most impressive sections were shot at Lone Pines outside of Los Angeles, which is known for its tall trees and lack of underbrush, making it ideal for breakneck drone chase scenes. The team captured some sick footage of the drones diving into the trees and flying through the stand at high speeds. There’s even a crash or two for good measure.

While the Rotor Riot team was outside filming the drone sequence, the Corridor Digital folks were inside creating custom cockpits for the X-wing and Tie-Fighter models. The cockpits were 3D printed using ABS plastic and treated with an acetone vapor bath to smooth off the rough edges and give the cockpit a shiny finish. Once processed, the models were painted by hand and mounted on boards. A GoPro was placed inside the empty cockpit and used to record the footage of the cockpit model itself. In a painstakingly slow process, one member of the Corridor Digital team had to watch the aerial drone footage and tilt the cockpit model in time to the video.

And if that wasn’t enough, the Corridor Digital folks also had to mask the drones in the chase scenes so the footage would show Star Wars spaceships and not off-the-shelf UAVs. They used Element 3D models of the Tie Fighter and X-Wing over which they laid the drone video, using point tracking to follow the flight path of the UAVs. A little tweaking of the orientation of each 3D model made it appear that the X-wing and Tie Fighters were actual flying in the scenes. The entire production was fan-funded using a Patreon campaign.