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Whether you love the new Star Wars trilogy or not, there's no denying that Poe Dameron's gyroscopic droid, BB-8, is one of the greatest Lucasfilm creations made under Disney's watchful eye. Prior to the release of The Force Awakens, many fans thought that a character like R2-D2 couldn't possibly be one-upped, but here we are.
As with the invention of any new character, BB-8 went through several different designs from ILM concept artist, Christian Alzmann, before a final version was chosen by writer/director, J.J. Abrams. Luckily, Alzmann's unused ideas weren't scrapped, but later re-purposed for another Star Wars project, Resistance, which currently airs on the Disney Channel.
In a new behind-the-scenes featurette, we learn about how the head animators referenced some of Alzmann's original designs, which were very well suited to the show's unique visual style that mimics Japanese-produced anime.
"I noticed that the proportions [in Christian's drawings] were slightly different, the head was a little bit bigger, they eye was a little bit bigger. And I thought that that really translated well into the anime-inspired style of Resistance," says art director Amy Beth Christenson in the video below. "That's how BB-8 evolved for the show."
Given the fact that he can move around a lot easier than R2, BB-8 does very well with physical/slapstick comedy in the new Star Wars films. In The Force Awakens, it was the now-iconic "thumbs up" lighter moment, while The Last Jedi had him shooting casino coins out of his metal casing at surly prison guards and piloting a freakin' AT-ST against First Order Stormtroopers.
The droid's distinctive beeps and boops were allegedly performed by a combination of famous comedians/actors, Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz. Of course, some digital enhancements were no doubt needed to make the robotic character sound like a happy-go-lucky machine in a galaxy far, far away.
Recently renewed for a second season, Star Wars Resistance recently returned to the Disney Channel for the second half of its first season. Dave Filoni, mastermind behind Clone Wars and Rebels, also created this series.