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Steven Spielberg on making The Shining sequence for Ready Player One

One of the stand-out sequences in READY PLAYER ONE found Parzival (Tye Sheridan), Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Aech (Lena Waithe), Daito (Win Morisaki), and Sho (Philip Zhao) entering a re-creation of THE SHINING straight out of the Stanley Kubrick film. Even considering the pop-culture smorgasbord of references which the Steven Spielberg film contained, seeing the Overlook Hotel brought back to life was truly memorable. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Spielberg explained how they managed to pull it off.

"It’s a combination of set construction and digital set construction," Spielberg told EW. "So we built the elevators and we built the hallway leading up to the elevators, but the main living area of the Overlook with the fireplace is digital." As for why they needed to build actual sets at all, production designer Adam Stockhausen said it had to do with whether or not the shot contained real human beings.

It was determined by the needs of the visual-effects people. Whenever we have our characters walking around, Aech and Parzival and Art3mis, there’s no need for any real-life scenery. In fact, it would just get in the way because it would block the infrared cameras that were trying to record the performance of the actors. When we were filming the girls in the hallway going to the elevator, and when we were filming the woman who was stepping out of the bath, we had the real bathtub and real shower curtain, and we matched the elevator doors just for those pieces. We had a real background behind an actor so you wouldn’t get that green-screen effect.

It also helped that Steven Spielberg had actually stepped foot on the real Overlook Hotel set when he first met Stanley Kubrick. "It was nostalgic for me because I first met Stanley Kubrick on the set that I depict in Ready Player One," Spielberg said. "The main living area with the grand fireplace in the Overlook is where I first encountered Stanley in 1979 when I went to look at the soundstages. They were about to build the sets for Raiders of the Lost Ark in Elstree Studios. When I found out Stanley had completed a set and was planning his shots, I asked if I could meet him." When Spielberg went to meet Kubrick on the set of THE SHINING, the director was planning out his shots using a small model of the set and taking pictures using a Nikon camera with an inverted periscope lens. When Steven Spielberg asked Kubrick why he was looking for shots using a scale model when he had the whole set all around him, Kubrick merely said "Yeah, what's wrong with that?" Spielberg added that Kubrick invited him to his house for dinner that night and that they "stayed friends for 19 years after that. Until his death."

READY PLAYER ONE is now available on Digital HD, and will be released on DVD/Blu-ray/4K Ultra HD on July 24th.

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