Wherever he goes, we go! Audiences love The Mandalorian and it’s become a major industry phenomenon! The long awaited Star Wars live-action series first premiered on Disney+ last fall and recently earned the streaming network’s first-ever Emmy Award.
In order to tell such ambitious episodic stories against the backdrop of a vast cinematic universe and still deliver on a tight production schedule, Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) combined forces with THE THIRD FLOOR’s Virtual Production Team. Throughout the ambitious production of The Mandalorian: Seasons 1 & 2, both companies developed a host of new virtual technologies and techniques to streamline production. In this edition, we discuss how these real-time advancements were leveraged to preserve more time for creative experimentation and synchronize virtual and real-world sets, lighting, and camera setups.
The Virtual Production Process on The Mandalorian began within the Virtual Art Department (VAD). VAD artists were able to reference inspirational production design concepts and build them as explorable 3D virtual sets. These pivotal set pieces were virtually scouted by directors and DPs who could evaluate lighting, mood, and time of day choices to inform their real-world lighting decisions.
Using virtual blocking, directors are able to plan their scenes shot by shot and communicate a clear vision for what will be filmed. Coverage can be visualized to design moves in virtual environments that represent physical LED volumes, stages, and locations. This helps crews plan to be more efficient on the day of shooting.
Virtual blocking can be produced faster than traditional animated previs by leveraging real-time tools such as wireless motion capture and virtual cameras. Performances by actors and stunt personnel can be directed and recorded, and any changes or new ideas appear instantly as fully-rendered previs in real-time. Directors can lens shots interactively and refine their shot list efficiently.
Digital assets are available for use on set by leveraging THE THIRD FLOOR-developed virtual production app, Cyclops, to view CG characters live in real shooting environments.
The virtual production techniques developed for The Mandalorian demonstrate some of the ways the Visualization Industry is evolving rapidly to accelerate production, and define directors’ visions as early and comprehensively as possible! Be sure to stream The Mandalorian Season 2 on Disney+ October 30th!
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