When Ewan McGregor went on stage on August 23 2019 at D23 the excitement was palpable. Everybody knew what was coming and his announcement that he would indeed get to play Obi-Wan Kenobi once again meant one of the best aspects of the Star Wars prequel trilogy was back.
In a recent interview with ACE Universe he shared that same enthusiasm while telling us that the technology the show’s production team will have at their disposal plays a big part in that. This technology while not brand new, hasn’t been around for a long time. The Mandalorian was the first production to use it in it’s first two seasons and they haven’t been shy about it.
If you got to watch The Mandalorian‘s first season on Disney+ you should really check out Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian, another Disney+ 8-episode mini-series that airs it’s final episode this Friday. It takes us behind the scenes with both the directors and the cast of the show, while also focusing on the production side of things, the score by Academy Award winner Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther), Star Wars’ legacy and a few more interesting topics.
But the episode that perhaps resonated with most people was episode 4 titled “Technology.” It’s perhaps the closest Star Wars has gotten us, in the past few years, to the feeling many had back in 1977 when it’s special-effects innovations changed Hollywood forever.
Episode 4 introduced us to what production called “The Volume.” It’s basically a soundstage surrounded by giant LED walls that are used to project photorealistic virtual environments, that Industrial Light & Magic developed alongside Epic Games. It turned out to be something that George Lucas toyed with 40 years ago but that proved to be a little too much for that era’s technological capabilities.
From an actor’s standpoint, and as Ewan says:
The prequels were all blue screen and green screen and it was hard to imagine, but nowadays I think things have moved on so much, and I think a lot of what you see is gonna be what we see on the set. I don’t know if you’ve seen the behind-the-scenes of The Mandalorian series, but they employ that incredible screen, it’s pretty amazing. It makes you feel like you’re in the place, it’s going to feel more real for us, as actors. And I think we’ll be using some of that technology on our show.
By removing green screens form the equation, actors are now reacting to something that isn’t inside their head but right in front of their faces. They are now able to correctly adapt their performances to it, and obviously, every actor in the same scene will now have the same reference points, allowing for a more coordinated response from everybody. It’s not a cheap option, but by eliminating expensive on-location shootings, and fast-tracking production in more ways than one, its benefits aren’t anything to sneeze at.
Another side of this is the fact that, by making it possible to shoot so many environments indoors, it allows for more secretive projects to remain as such. Star Wars and Marvel projects, that always like to leave audiences mostly unspoiled, can now avoid random set photos that disclose both minor and major plot points, and even characters’appearances, from appearing online without their approval.
Also, with the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting so many productions and studios looking into ways on how to better protect their crews and acting talent, this might just be a way of making sure sets are a bit more impervious to outside contact. You shouldn’t put it past Disney to decide to shoot as many projects as possible using this technology in the coming months.
For a more in-depth look into The Volume, check out this article by Epic Games
You can catch the entire ACE Universe interview right here, on their Youtube channel.