June 11, 2023

Though “Andor” writer Tony Gilroy initially said that the Volume wasn’t used for the series, this isn’t entirely true. At Star Wars Celebration, the VFX team highlighted some of the scenes where the state-of-the-art StageCraft technology had been implemented — such as the Chandrilan Embassy on Coruscant, where the LED backdrop was used to create the city landscape seen through the grand windows framing the room. Talking about the scrutiny that the Volume had been placed under, visual effects supervisor Mohen Leo commented:

“It’s funny because it almost became sort of a talking point. ‘Did you use the Volume? Did you not use the Volume?’ And it was really not, at any point, a question of philosophically we do or don’t want to [use] it. It was just much more like, what is the right solution? This worked absolutely beautifully for what we needed, and it was actually a testament to how flexible StageCraft is that it can adapt to the different [needs].

The “Mandalorian” season 3 finale exemplifies what StageCraft can achieve when it’s the right tool for the job. The final fight staged in the Imperial base on Mandalore, culminating in an Imperial cruiser crashing into the structure, would have been seriously challenging to find a real-world location for, and certainly wouldn’t have looked as good if it had been shot in front of a green screen. Elsewhere on Mandalore, though, the reliance on the Volume made it difficult to connect to the Mandalorian homeworld in the same way that Ferrix and Aldhani felt like real places. 

The temptation of the Volume is understandable: in theory, the technology can recreate just about any environment. But just like having a real puppet on set allowed audiences to connect with Grogu in a way they probably wouldn’t have connected with a wholly CGI creation, “The Mandalorian” season 4 might benefit from putting Din Djarin’s boots on solid ground every once in a while.

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