- One of the key pieces to making “The Mandalorian” was the use of a giant video wall as the background for scenes shot on a sound stage.
- The tech is a game-changer for how to make blockbusters as it makes post-production costs cheaper due to less CGI.
- But it will also help in production starting up in a coronavirus world where bare-bone crews will be required.
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Before Jon Favreau walked into the doors of Lucasfilm, the typical way to pull off the otherworldly landscapes in the “Star Wars” franchise was to either fly to a location or shoot inside a studio covered in green screen.
But how he made the Disney Plus series “The Mandalorian” wasn’t just a tech game-changer, but with the coronavirus now a part of everyday life in Hollywood, it will become perhaps the only way to continue making blockbusters for the foreseeable future.
Most of the first and second season (which wrapped production before the pandemic) of “The Mandalorian” was shot at Manhattan Beach Studios in LA with a massive LED video wall covering one side of a soundstage. While the actors would interact in a scene with practical pieces of the set in the foreground, behind them was a giant screen showing the backdrop the scene was taking place in, which could range from a desert locale, the outskirts of an outpost, or deep space.
Fans of the show are only now seeing how that was done on the show by the behind-the-scenes footage in the new Disney Plus show “Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian.”
The innovation is just the latest from Industrial Light & Magic and was able to let Favreau and his team not just give their actors a more immersive environment to act in, but saved loads of time (and money) in post-production as less CGI had to be added in the shot.
But with the coronavirus pandemic having halted almost all of production in Hollywood, the video wall now isn’t just a money-saving innovation but a lifeline for movies to continue production.
“It’s going to be the wave of the future, no question about it,” VFX supervisor Rob Legato (“The Lion King,” “Jungle Book”) told Indiewire. “And people are really interested in it now [during the lockdown]. It’s hastening acceptance because of the ability to do it and be socially distant still.”
When production on movies begin to ramp up, one of the biggest challenges will be pulling off shooting days with only an essential number of crew members (as states will have orders for how many people can gather together at one time). The video wall will be a tool used on big films to cut down who needs to be on set.
Favreau has been playing with tech innovations since 2008’s “Iron Man,” but he really leaned into it when doing the CGI-fuelled remakes of “Jungle Book” and “The Lion King.” However, his legacy may be how his video wall on “The Mandalorian” kept Hollywood going in these challenging times.