Part of the appeal of The Mandalorian is how practical it all felt, to the physical Baby Yoda puppet to the desert planet landscapes that evoked old Westerns. A new behind-the-scenes video courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic goes inside just how Jon Favreau and Co. used never-before-seen tech to create the various worlds of The Mandalorian. Not to be hyperbolic or anything but what we’re seeing here is probably going to change filmmaking. Disney, being Disney, basically invented an entirely new option for catching in-camera shots on an indoor stage, blending practical and VFX in a way that’s probably gonna’ change the game for good.
As you can see in the video, more than half of The Mandalorian was shot surrounded by a “massive 20’ high by 270-degree semicircular LED video wall and ceiling with a 75’-diameter performance space,” which was then used to fill out a backdrop as far as the scene called for. This allowed the crew to not only envision a much larger space while filming on a soundstage but also seamlessly manipulate the environment in real-time. That goes for interiors, too; environments like the office of The Client (Werner Herzog) or the chop-shop operated by Ran (Mark Boone Jr.) were given new layers using this new technology.
“It completely surrounds your peripheral vision,” explains animation supervisor Hal Hickel. “You really quickly forget that you’re indoors and you’re not out on some planet’s surface. It feels like a real three-dimensional environment surrounding you, because it is a three-dimensional environment.”
Is largely eliminating the need for location shoots a good or bad advancement for filmmaking? Hard to say at this juncture, seeing as how The Mandalorian is the first test case. But the video is still a fascinating look behind the curtain at tech that would’ve seemed straight Star Wars-y just ten years ago. Check it out below.