The Special Way Star Wars: Rogue One Shot X-Wing Scenes


The Rebellion used many kinds of ships in its fight against the Empire, but none was more popular than the X-Wing. Arguably the most utilitarian of the Rebel starfighters, the X-Wing was present in all the major space battles of the original Star Wars trilogy, and they continue to be used 30 years later in The Force Awakens era. So it's not surprising that they'll be seen next week in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but unlike in previous movies, the Anthology spinoff took a different approach to shooting the X-Wing scenes by actually having the cockpit move. According to director Gareth Edwards:

When we were filming the X-wing footage in the film, we had the X-wing [cockpit] mounted to a gimbal so it could move around, like it was really flying. Then all around were the screens, in 180 degrees, that were projecting space and this pre-animated flight path as the X-wing was moving around, like it was really flying.

Gareth Edwards explained to EW that because he wanted the X-Wing moments in Rogue One to feel like a rollercoaster, he and the movie's crew decided to turn the X-Wing "ships" into the equivalent of an amusement park ride. So rather than simply have the cockpit be stationary with some shaking here and there, Edwards and the crew were able to pivot the cockpit around to simulate the ship moving through space. Add in those screens and the flight path, and that's probably the closest any actor within an X-Wing cockpit has come to feel like they're actually piloting one of those vessels.

However, that wasn't the only unusual shooting method Gareth Edwards implemented to make the X-Wings flying in Rogue One feel more real. Staying true to his unique style of filmmaking, Edwards also had a handheld camera attached to the top of the X-Wing cockpit and maneuvered it around so it could follow the ships around from a "first-person" viewpoint during the insanity of a space battle, from dogging explosions to weaving around obstacles. In fact, Edwards himself was the one operating that camera. He stated:

I got inside this X-wing, put the camera on top of my shoulder and they closed the cockpit. Then the thing just started flying and we started going through space in a space battle. And I was filming it, trying to film everything and trying to get the shots as well as I could.

According to the article, these approaches to the X-Wing scenes, along with numerous other creative decisions, were meant to give Rogue One a "documentary feel." As has been mentioned many times over the course of Rogue One's production and post-production, the movie will feel more like a war movie, adding grittiness that hasn't been seen in the main saga movies. So even though this is a story involving lasers flying and spaceships caught in dogfights, it could feel like the most realistic Star Wars movie yet.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on Friday, December 16.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.