The Mandalorian is one of the most successful Star Wars franchise installments. Initially released on November 12, 2019, the show has successfully amassed millions of fans. Besides the clever storyline, visual effect is also one of the determining factors behind the success of the series. The show is capable of pushing the limit of VFX as well as creating a brand new technology that hasn’t been utilized before.
Star Wars and VFX
Ever since the release of the Episode IV in 1977, creative minds have gathered to fit George Lucas’ brilliant vision into cinema screens. Utilizing no computer, Star Wars production team was able to create an immersive world about space battle, the force, and evil empire. All of which thanks to the clever use of matte painting, scaled model, and controlled camera rig.
Star Wars cinema illusion continues to grow, particularly on the release of Episode 1. The Phantom Menace’s VFX team, the legendary Industrial Light Magic (ILM), was able to create a real time pre-visualization on the monitor screen. This allows the director to see a rough estimate of the final shot after all visual effects have been implemented.
Combining the magic of blue-screen, Star Wars was once again able to introduce spectacular visual effects into cinema screens. However, the green/ bluescreen technology that was once regarded as superior is no longer effective in modern movie production. So, a new technology was introduced.
The Mandalorian VFX technology
In 2019, Jon Favreau was tasked to adapt a Star Wars story into the TV screen. So, once again, ILM was involved in inventing another breakthrough in the cinema world. The result is what we know today as the Volume technology. Unlike chroma background, Volume technology utilizes a massive LED monitor to project a photoreal 3D background in real time.
The background was tracked using camera tracking technology. This allows the camera to capture the actor from various angles without breaking the 3D background illusion. Utilizing the Unreal Engine, 3D artists are capable of tweaking the 3D background in real time. This granted the director full control on how a scene can be constructed.
For those reasons, volume is considered as a massive improvement to green screen. When using a green screen, on-set actors often reflect the green color on their skins and clothing. Green screen also relies on accurate on-set lighting. So, this ultimately creates another difficulty in VFX construction.
However, since the Volume technology emits light, the LED can be used as a lighting source. On top of that, lighting that is projected into the set surface and the actor’s skin is also appropriately colored. As a result production can be done much faster. Combining real sets and the Volume technology, Star Wars is able to present interesting visual and technological breakthrough on cinema
What can we expect?
We can expect a lot of things for the future of cinema. Utilizing the Volume technology, movies can be produced much faster. The use of LED background also minimizes the VFX implementation in the post-production. As a result, a movie can be made much more realistic. So, let’s just hope that this technology is more widely use in the future.