By Hannah Shaw-Williams, Slash Film, April 23, 2023
“When it was first unveiled as an integral ingredient in “The Mandalorian,” StageCraft made a lot of jaws drop. Developed by Industrial Light & Magic, the concept of a sound stage surrounded with dynamic, high-definition LED backgrounds — a set-up referred to as the Volume — was a modern-day answer to old-school matte paintings. It gives actors something to look at besides mind-numbing blue and green walls, functions dually as a light source that matches the needs of the scene, and can convincingly simulate the experience of flying a ship through the vastness of space. The “Star Wars” prequel trilogy in particular had been blasted by fans for its overuse of green screens; StageCraft seemed like the ultimate solution.
At this year’s Star Wars Celebration, Doug Chiang — veteran “Star Wars” production designer, and executive creative director of Lucasfilm — enthused about the Volume’s role in “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and “The Mandalorian” season 3. “We only physically built the floor and the foreground set pieces like the tables in the markets,” he revealed as he shared behind-the-scenes photos of the stage floor, which is only 40 feet by 70 feet. “And yet,” Chiang continued, “the city streets looked like they were hundreds of feet long, and the buildings hundreds of feet tall.”
A few years ago, these images might have sparked mutterings of awe, perhaps even some applause. At Celebration 2023, they were met with a palpable silence. After audiences were told how the magic trick of the Volume worked, suddenly it became hard not to see the strings: the way that many scenes in “Star Wars” shows looked hemmed-in, the actors restricted to an area not much bigger than a theater stage. And when “Andor” premiered just a few months after the conclusion of “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” it showed us what was missing.” Continue reading