Game on No need to don that virtual reality headset. Simply pick up this book and start exploring the concepts behind the year’s most visually innovative film
The Art of Ready Player One goes under the ImagineFX microscope.
The ‘art of’ title is fully justified here, with plenty of paintings on show
The film adaptation of Ready Player One was a mash-up in the true sense of the word. It combined live action, mo-cap, animation and VR techniques to create two film worlds in one: a ‘real’ one and a virtual one. How that vision was put together is the focus of this coffee-table read.
The ‘art of’ title is fully justified here, with plenty of paintings on show throughout the book’s 160 pages. We see concepts for some of the film’s key scenes, such as the big race, the virtual bedroom of visionary creator James Halliday, and the final showdown. And there’s also great concept art for elements that didn’t make the film, such as an unused design for lead character Parzival’s hair that resembles a 1980s rock star, and some alternate depictions of how The Shining sequence might have played out.
Such paintings aren’t the whole story, though. The images here are pretty evenly divided between concept art, stills from the film and behind-the-scenes photography. And when it comes to the text, this is just as much a ‘making of’ book as an straightforward art book.
Accompanying a foreword by Steven Spielberg and an introduction by the original book’s author, Ernest Cline, there are detailed breakdowns of how each character was conceived and an in-depth exploration of the mo-cap technology. There’s also quotes from some of the film-makers, including production designer Adam Stockhausen and costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone, as well as chapters on the VR suits, the environments and some key scenes.
If you’re expecting this book to be purely art-focused – in the narrowest sense of the word – then you may be disappointed. While the concept artists are, happily, credited, they’re hardly mentioned in the text and their paintings are not the main visual focus. If, however, you enjoyed the film and want to know as much as possible about how it was made, as well as explore a great range of visuals, then you’re going to appreciate this thoughtful, detailed and beautifully produced book. And if you truly loved the film then you might also be willing to pay the – in our estimation – slightly overcooked price. Harsh reality, indeed.
Aaron Sims’ studio designed many of the avatars that populate the film’s virtual worlds. New avatars are spawned on the planet Incipio, as depicted here by ILM’s Stephen Tappin.
Concept artist Kirsten Franson’s take on the famous DeLorean from Back to the Future.
Dominic Lavery painted this early version of Wade’s VR gear.