With Disney+ arriving to the UK months after its US release, Star Wars fans could not wait to get stuck into ‘The Mandalorian’. The Star Wars TV Series that we’ve been inundated with via ‘Baby Yoda’ memes and twitter reactions landed on our shores on March 24th. Created and produced by Hollywood multi-tasker Jon Favreau, the show follows the adventures of a brand-new anti-hero.
Favreau is no stranger to a VFX challenge, from Iron-Man to The Lion King, however he decided to make some drastic changes to the production of this project, or in his words, “technical innovations… that are going to have an impact on the way television and movies are made moving forward”.
As we know, most CG heavy sets would use green or blue screens, for the backgrounds to be added in post-production, but that isn’t how the ‘The Mandalorian’ crew have done things. Instead, by teaming up with ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) and Fortnite developer Epic Games, a 20ft high by 270 degree semi-circular LED video wall was built to display the real-time 3D creation program known as Unreal Engine.
In an interview with CNBC Favreau said this on his vision coming to life, “we’re really pushing the limits of things… in The Mandalorian we’re able to apply game engine and real-time rendering to the film making process, which allows you to have a lot more creative flexibility, it really helps condense the time frame and therefore the budget”.
Displaying the Unreal Engine in this way gives the production team the ability to use the rendered landscapes, that have been created in pre-production, as the backdrop in the scene. Bringing the entire cast and crew one step closer to the world they have created, meaning they are able to see and interact with it instantaneously. This all looks and sounds exciting, but for filmmakers it means the ability to bypass numerous industry challenges such as location shoots, whilst allowing filmmakers to ‘capture a significant amount of complex VFX shots with accurate lighting and reflections in-camera, and iterate on scenes together in real-time while on set.’ These are just a few notable changes listed on UnrealEngine.com, but in these first stages of the development and use of this type of technology in film it appears to be bridging the gap between pre/post-production and principal photography.
If his work on ‘The Mandalorian’ wasn’t ambitions enough, Favreau is once again joining the masters of practical effects the Chiodo Brothers (whose work involves the cult classic ‘Killer Klowns From Outer Space’) for the first time since Elf. Together they will bring the brothers’ 2015 book ‘Alien Xmas’ to Netflix in the form of a stop-motion animated Christmas special!
Writer : Jonathan Murphy