The Mandalorian was a game-changing chapter of the Star Wars franchise for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest was no doubt the debut of "The Child," aka "Baby Yoda." The Mandalorian's pilot episode ended with the reveal that the bounty hunter had been tasked with hunting down a young member of Yoda's race, and over the course of the series the odd-pair grow into a surrogate family of misfits. Well, behind-the-scenes looks at the making of The Mandalorian and its Baby Yoda character have been equally exciting. Now, we learn that one shocking Baby Yoda moment was entirely done with CGI!
In new breakdown of The Mandalorian's second episode, "Chapter 2: The Child", over on Variety, we learn about all the technical wizardry that was required to create the climactic sequence where Mando (Pedro Pascal) is battling a beast called a Mudhorn, and is almost killed - until Baby Yoda saves him, revealing his Force powers for the very first time.
“We shot the scene on the lot in a big, huge mud pit under a hot sun," cinematographer Baz Idoine explained. "The stunt team did a great job of throwing Mando around in the mud, but the most important shot of the whole scene is that beautiful one of Mando’s profile with the Mudhorn floating above him. [There’s a] close-up on Mando when he’s got nothing left to give: all he can do is hold up his knife at this charging beast, he’s ready to accept as fate. Then he looks up and the beast is floating and he turns to look at the Child. It’s a fantastic moment and it was a joy to shoot.”
“We cordoned off an area to build the entrance to the cave and the mud arena based on the concept art, and dug a hole with a bulldozer," continued Production designer Andrew Jones. "We prepared a particular bit of ground for special effects to fill up with a softer soil so that we could do a shot where Mando is punched into the ground by the Mudhorn, but that was when the rains came. In a lot of ways it helped, but when you’re driving all that heavy machinery around, you would rather wet the ground where you want to instead of turning the whole backlot into a mud bowl — that made things more complicated.”
Aside from staging the sequence and preparing the set - there was one more challenge: getting Baby Yoda to give a properly dramatic performance for his big power reveal moment. As animation supervisor Hal Hickel reveals:
“We had a handful of shots of the Child where it wasn’t the puppet. Of course, the puppet does the heavy lifting in the show — the puppet is the baseline — but at that moment in time we were still figuring out what the puppet could do and how to get the best out of it. That particular shot of the baby using the Force to pick up the Mudhorn was the hardest from a CG perspective because it was such a big performance moment — its face was so concentrated. We were trying to make sure we didn’t do more than the puppet could do, and that we didn’t break what’s awesome and charming and perfect about the puppet.”0comments
If nothing else, this should tell you just how seriously the makers of Star Wars take their cute alien characters.
The Mandalorian season 2 debuts on Disney+ this fall.
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