As we've written about extensively for Star Wars: The Mandalorian, the hit series from Lucasfilm changed the game with its two seasons thanks to its virtual production technology known as StageCraft. Featuring extensive LED screens on sound stages, it offered the production teams the opportunity to create a lot of their visual effects and exotic planets from that galaxy far, far away completely in camera. In a new extensive write-up on FXGuide, the outlet revealed new details on updates made to the StageCraft volumes and new innovations that The Mandalorian crew conceived of, specifically the challenges they overcame in episode 2.05, aka the one with Rosario Dawson's Ahsoka.
Set on Corvus, a planet previously lush with forests and now burned to ash, and the city of Calodan, the episode presented a few challenges for the team. For one sequence the sets were built and then brought into the volume, with the screens extending into areas that would normally be reserved for technical setups so that a tracking shot could extend from outside the walls all the way to the inside of the set. Another challenge was that reflecting pool fight sequence, which featured a big problem.
"We had a pool with small ripples on the water and you could walk into the stage and be 50 feet away from walking into the volume, and you could see with your naked eye the moire patterns," Production Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Bluff said. "It was clear to your eye that the effect was being magnified by the ripples on the water, and instantly you thought that this is never going to work." Apparently though when the crew turned on the cameras and placed in the same area the camera couldn't pick up the patterns, apparently another set-up later in the series resulted in the opposite problem where the camera could see the pattern and the crew couldn't.
Bluff added, "It can be so strange, and that was one of the reasons why in season one, we decided that it was too risky to shoot a scene with water in the volume, but we could be more flexible in Season 2."
As to the future, Bluff expressed hope for future seasons of the series as well as the other Star Wars shows that were announced at Disney Investor Day, plus other productions that will use the StageCraft volumes (like the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3).
"What we thought were limitations were really interesting and are being solved in creative ways, because everybody is contributing," Bluff said. "From the writers to the directors, and DPs to the heads of department and crew, – everyone has a much better understanding of the technology now. The gloves are off, and now we are just asking: what else can we do? How can we use this technology in new and interesting ways to tell more compelling stories?"
Production on The Mandalorian season 3 is scheduled to begin in April.