Lightsabers and shots of crimson laser beams cut through a landscape of deciduous trees within an eerie fog. Ahsoka Tano (played by Rosario Dawson) establishes herself as a Jedi warrior, slicing through enemies with brute strength and a creative edge to each killing. Nightfall is upon this forest of death, and the bare trees that still stand after all the fighting take on an endless quality. Where does the forest end and where does it begin?
In an instant, the sky brightens and the seemingly endless forest is suddenly behind the camera. The colossal doors to a guarded village open slowly, revealing a new set in the grayish blue light of dawn. The transition in the environment is smooth and takes on an effortless quality. “The Mandalorian” season one and two both take on magical qualities of seamless transitions from one otherworldly set to the next. When the audience isn’t immersed in the uncanny forest with Tano, they’re in the air with Cara Dune (played by Gina Carano) flying a ship through the crevices of towering mountains in the bright light of day, walking through the desert before sunset alongside The Mandalorian (played by Pedro Pascal) and Grogu (David Acord), and more.
Evolutionary cinema is happening across the globe as television series and films adapt to virtual production on a grander scale, creating true-to-life sets that exceed viewers’ expectations. The Disney+ Star Wars spin off, “The Mandalorian,” was shot on an LA soundstage encased by LED walls that displayed ever changing digital sets. Instead of being challenged with the static green screen, “The Mandalorian’s” cast was able to engage with a 20 foot high and 270 degree semi-circular LED video wall with ceiling and a 75 foot in diameter performance space, called the Volume.
Now, virtual sets can be built before going into principal photography. The results are groundbreaking. The location backdrops are drafted by VFX artists as 3D models. Then, photographic scans are mapped onto the stage. Practical set pieces are combined to create a lush mise en scene.
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