Friends, I think it is safe to say that the majority of the World was very happy with Disney+’s first season of The Mandalorian – I feel that would be true even without the addition of “The Child” or Baby Yoda. I truly believe that creator John Favreau (Elf, Iron Man) in addition to the writers’ room featuring Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood), Christopher Yost (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2005 – 2008, Star Wars: Rebels), as well as Dave Filoni (Avatar: The Last Airbender, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) were able to make something special and meaningful for Star Wars fans. Giving us a glimpse of a different slice of that Galaxy from a long time ago and far, far away – filled with just as many dangers, adventure, scoundrels, and unexpected heroes as the films have given us so far. Of course… there is also the matter of the Child – which Disney is about to make bank on now that the merchandise is going to be rolled out in a couple of months.
Make no mistake about it, the puppeteers responsible for the Child in The Mandalorian deserved to have heaps of praise piled on them – as does Werner Herzog who was revealed in a Vanity Fair article to have called the showrunners cowards for thinking of using a CGI “Baby Yoda”. What I was not aware of though while watching the Disney+ series was that The Mandalorian featured a pretty groundbreaking new virtual production for the backgrounds. It turns out that over 50 percent of the series used a “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.”
Everything was done in real-time on these backgrounds – plus they could be tracked and lit from what the camera was seeing… and all altered with a few simple taps on a tablet. From the ILMVFX short video below you can see how the hard work of ILM Stagecraft, Unreal Engine, Lux Machina, Profile Studios, ARRI, Fuse, and Golem Creations paid off. It really is rather inspiring – especially when you get to see it in action… plus it’s always cool to see Clancy Brown (Burg from Episode 6) just hanging around the set, right?