As we look ahead to the first season of The Book of Boba Fett and the third season of The Mandalorian, we look back to the groundbreaking VFX of The Mandalorian’s second season.  VFX supervisor Richard Bluff delved into the technical challenges and advances, looking at the creatures – and there are many – and environments that made that second season such a visual feast.

The tech highlight, though, was the launch of StageCraft 2.0, the virtual production game changer from Industrial Light & Magic. Offering a new in-house render engine called Helios, the immersive LED wall digital backlot at Manhattan Beach Studios in L.A. generated cooler-looking digital environments in real-time, and continued the illusion of being on location with interactive lighting and perspective-accurate camera tracking.

“Helios gave us higher resolution and more image fidelity,” said Series VFX supervisor Richard Bluff. “The assets that were going into the environments could not only be rendered in real-time on the wall, but could also be easily rendered in any one of our render engines that we use in post-production. This allowed a lot of flexibility on the back end. We were basically supersizing the pixels being drawn to the screen.”

The other important improvement was extending the space outside the LED wall volume to provide greater scope. Thus, for the first time, ILM built physical sets adjacent to the volume, allowing the filmmakers to push a character from a physical set out all the way into the middle of the volume or vice versa. A good example occurs in Episode 5 (“The Jedi”), which takes place entirely outdoors on the planet Corvus, where Mando (Pedro Pascal) discovers from Jedi Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) that Baby Yoda’s name is Grogu. In a single shot, the camera tracks Mando through the burnt forest to the other side.

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Star Wars: The Rising Storm (The High Republic) (Star Wars: The High Republic)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Scott, Cavan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 06/29/2021 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)