See How a Novel Technology Helped Create The Mandalorian’s Hyper-Realistic Worlds

Disney+’s The Mandalorian looked so ravishingly good it was easy to forget it wasn’t a Star Wars feature film sliced and diced into a series. The feature film-level look was achieved primarily through a new technology called StageCraft. What StageCraft does is create a hyper-realistic, reactive environment that moves with the camera. In a new behind-the-scenes video from Industrial Light & Magic, you’ll see how The Mandalorian used this tech to create the many worlds our titular bounty hunter plied his trade on. This groundbreaking approach helped the first-ever live-action Star Wars series look incredible.

StageCraft helps create the backdrops that actors are working against in real-time, lighting them as they and the camera moves. The technology is sophisticated to the point where describing it is hard to do, yet the video reveals just how novel, and game-changing, this approach is. And we really do mean game-changing; ILM is committed to making StageCraft available for filmmakers and showrunners all over the world. This means that TV will soon be able to match the insanely high-quality effects we’ve come to expect from feature films.

Check out the video here:

Here’s how ILM describes the process:

Over 50 percent of The Mandalorian Season 1 was filmed using this ground-breaking new methodology, eliminating the need for location shoots entirely. Instead, actors in The Mandalorian performed in an immersive and massive 20’ high by 270-degree semicircular LED video wall and ceiling with a 75’-diameter performance space, where the practical set pieces were combined with digital extensions on the screens. Digital 3D environments created by ILM played back interactively on the LED walls, edited in real-time during the shoot, which allowed for pixel-accurate tracking and perspective-correct 3D imagery rendered at high resolution via systems powered by NVIDIA GPUs. The environments were lit and rendered from the perspective of the camera to provide parallax in real-time, as if the camera were really capturing the physical environment with accurate interactive light on the actors and practical sets, giving showrunner Jon Favreau, executive producer and director Dave Filoni, visual effects supervisor Richard Bluff, and cinematographers Greig Frazier and Barry Baz Idoine, and the episodic directors the ability to make concrete creative choices for visual effects-driven work during photography and achieve real-time in-camera composites on set.

Featured image: The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) in his ship the Falcon Crest. Courtesy Walt Disney Studios


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