'Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian' Episode 6 Review: Advance rendering of scenes offers a unique edge
The episode focuses on the pre-visualization process, and how rendering each scene beforehand gives directors the freedom to dream big
'The Mandalorian' has been praised for its tight storytelling. A high level of efficiency in filming can only come from very detailed planning, and this episode expands on its explanation of the technology used to show how every scene of 'The Mandalorian' was digitally created months before actual shooting began. The episode begins with a quick explanation of how each episode is envisioned through the storyboard process once the script is written. Each episode goes from script to storyboards, with a team of artists led by David Lowery. The storyboard is then animated with minimal effects at the level of a PowerPoint presentation. It offers a basic yet vital look and it is the first time the directors, producers, and scriptwriters have a chance to see the episode and see how well it works visually.
What makes 'The Mandalorian' different is how the entire episode is animated again and this time with much, much more advanced technology. Using the Unreal Engine, which allows them to shoot scenes in VR with stuntmen in motion-capture gear, the directors actually have a chance to create every single scene months before actually shooting on set. It's a freedom most directors just don't get, as Deborah Chow explains. 7-8 days on set is generally what directors get to shoot an episode and deal with the problems that arise. With pre-visualization, however, the production team, the directors, everyone, gets to see exactly what the episode is meant to be before shooting even begins.
As Dave Filoni points out, the process is largely how animation works. And, in fact, there are probably animated episodes of 'The Mandalorian' held by Lucasfilm right now that lack the nuance of performance but contain all of the series' best action. Comparisons on the episode reveal just how faithfully the show adhered to the pre-visualization of shots, meaning that there was likely very little wiggle room for improvisation on set. The technology used in 'The Mandalorian' necessitates this, as with no actual sets outside of the Volume, every scene needs to be properly programmed in VR before shooting can begin. This technique gives the director unprecedented freedom in being able to plan for efficiency in the shooting. Filoni and Taika Waititi talk about how this level of planning was used in Marvel reshoots, allowing for up to 360 different shots being taken in a single day.
This process has led to some of the more ambitious scenes in 'The Mandalorian' -- from the bounty hunter battle in Episode 3 to the hallway droid fight in the heist episode, the freedom to plan is the freedom to dream big. Big dreams are already in place, as Jon Favreau is already figuring out ways to bring this technology to other films and, more importantly, everyone is just waiting for the scripts to begin planning out 'The Mandalorian' Season 2.
The next episode of 'Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian' airs June 12, on Disney+.