Jon Favreau and his team are using cutting-edge filming technology on upcoming Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian, that is reminiscent of a Holodeck, according to Bryce Dallas Howard who has directed an episode of the show. From the opening shot of an Imperial Star Destroyer crawling menacingly through space in the original 1977 movie, the Star Wars franchise has always broke new ground when it comes to technology and the art of film-making. Whether it be pioneering CGI effects from Industrial Light & Magic, masterful puppetry from Frank Oz or award winning animation in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the franchise has always been at the forefront of the visual medium. Even Jar Jar Binks, for all the vitriol aimed at him, paved the way for the development of entirely computer-generated main characters.
2019 is a hugely exciting time for Star Wars fans, with a number of new projects in the pipeline to accompany the release of Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker later this year, and perhaps the most hotly anticipated of these is The Mandalorian. A live-action TV series due to air on the Disney+ streaming service this November, The Mandalorian is set several years after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows the titular warrior on his adventures in the outer reaches of the galaxy. Inspired by the popularity of the bounty hunter Boba Fett, The Mandalorian's first season will run for eight episodes and Jon Favreau is acting as writer and showrunner. Game of Thrones' Pedro Pascal has been cast in the lead role and the series will feature supporting turns from Nick Nolte, Taika Waititi, and Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito.
The Mandalorian will feature a host of directing talent, and among the names currently confirmed is Bryce Dallas Howard, whose father Ron directed last year's Solo movie. Known more widely for her on-screen roles, The Mandalorian will be Dallas Howard's most high profile behind-the-camera gig to date and, in an interview with Collider, she discussed the cutting edge filming techniques Favreau is implementing on this new project. Dallas Howard claims:
"John Favreau, of course, is known for pushing emerging technology forward. What he did with Jungle Book, what he is doing now with The Lion King. I mean this is really extraordinary, sort of what is possible because of these projects. There were so many times when I would be like "It’s okay John we can just do it that way" and he’s like "I just want to see if its possible, we just need to see if its possible," I’m like "okay" and its tested and way more times you find out it is possible and its better.
There was specifically something that we shot in called The Volume, and basically you step into it and the naked eye, you can’t tell that you are surrounded by, basically, LED screens. And you feel like [you’re] wherever the story is taking place. It’s almost like — this is the wrong term to use, especially for this project, but it’s almost like a Holodeck."
For those who strictly support only one side of the science fiction divide, the Holodeck is a feature of the Star Trek universe (hence Dallas Howard's assertion that the comparison was probably unsuitable) where characters visit an area of a ship capable of rendering fully immersive virtual reality experiences that are indistinguishable from real life.
Star Wars fans will no doubt be thrilled to see their favorite franchise breaking down the barriers of film-making once again and it'll be fascinating to see how shooting scenes in "The Volume" will translate into the finished product. Will viewers be able to tell which scenes have utilized this cutting edge tech or will the telltale signs of CGI trickery still be present?
As Dallas Howard suggests, Jon Favreau, when he's not having to reign in billionaire playboy philanthropists in the MCU, is no stranger to trying out new things and "The Volume" could be a potential answer to a long-standing issue in modern-day filming. Due to the increased power of technology, both movies and TV shows are making heavier use of special effects but on the actual set, this often requires actors to perform in front of a blank green screen or, in the case of CG characters, exchange lines with a stick. The likes of Ian McKellen have expressed dissatisfaction at this practice and although it's impossible to say for sure without further details, "The Volume" sounds like something that offers the actors a more immersive and enjoyable way to shoot.
The Mandalorian premieres November 12th on Disney+.