'Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian' Season 1 Episode 4: Proud display of what could end use of green screens forever
The episode dives into the technology involved in the making of 'The Mandalorian'
'Star Wars' has always been at the forefront of filmmaking technology, showing audiences new worlds in ways they had never thought possible before. This level of crafting and innovation hasn't stopped, as the technology used in the making of 'The Mandalorian' might just be the next step in CGI filmmaking, making green screens a thing of the past.
This episode is a little more technical for those who don't have an active interest in the minutiae of filmmaking and initially can feel a bit dry as they're explained by Jon Favreau and the heads of 'Star Wars' veteran special effects company, Industral Lights and Magic. The show does its best to educate the audience without boring them, and it's worth sticking around to truly appreciate the new territory that 'The Mandalorian' has explored in terms of technology.
While the episode is titled 'Technology,' it doesn't cover all of the technology used in the making of the show and instead focuses on what truly set 'The Mandalorian' apart — the 21 feet high and 75 feet in diameter collection of LED video screens that make up "the Volume". 'The Mandalorian' was not shot in front of a green screen — it was done in a set that, essentially, was a bubble whose walls displayed sets rendered by Epic Games' Unreal Engine (which, for whatever strange legal reasons Disney dictated, was never mentioned by name during the episode), bringing virtually rendered sets to life and capturing them on camera during shooting, as opposed to adding sets in post-production.
This, combined with the lighting techniques Jon Favreau made use of in films like 'The Jungle Book' and 'The Lion King', created the illusion that 'The Mandalorian' was filmed outdoors, on location, when in fact the entire thing was created indoors. It is incredibly realistic — even in the documentary, the episode has to go out of its way to show that the sets aren't, in fact, entirely real, but a blend of props, manufactured sets and virtually rendered ones.
Acting with green screens has become a bit of a joke when talking about the shooting of big-budget films. It's a challenge for every actor, trying to sell a fantastic world they're set in while they're dealing with tennis balls on sticks in a set that's bright green, wall to wall. As Rick Famuyiwa points out, the technology gives directors the freedom of a full set — one their actors can fully immerse themselves in. Even the actors themselves were blown away by the technology, allowing it to add a realness to their performance that would have been that much more challenging in front of a green screen.
'The Mandalorian' was a return to 'Star Wars' at its best, which makes new uses of technology to make the worlds in a galaxy far, far away as real as they possibly can be. From the costumes to this new kind of immersive set, to animatronic Baby Yodas (not featured in this episode but likely to be in episodes ahead), 'Star Wars' is at its best when it's pushing the boundaries of technology to make its worlds real. What 'The Mandalorian' has created is a big step forward — and from the discussions featured in the episode, it doesn't look like 'Star Wars' is slowing down its technological advancements in filmmaking anytime soon.
The next episode of 'Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian' airs May 29, on Disney+.