Due to their other-worldly nature, many of the environments of Star Wars need to be created in a computer. Now, a groundbreaking soundstage, The Volume, has given filmmakers the chance to put their actors directly in different planets across the galaxy.
Industrial Light & Magic, the VFX arm of Lucasfilm, used a warehouse in Manhattan Beach to construct a massive curved LED wall known as The Volume. Any type of setting can be created on the screen, whether it be the sands of Tatooine, or the far reaches of space. The technology, officially known as StageCraft, was first pioneered with The Mandalorian, and has now become part of everyday production for Lucasfilm.
A good portion of Obi-Wan Kenobi was shot using The Volume, and the show’s star and lead director say it was an invaluable part of the filming process.
BUILDING THE STAR WARS WORLD IN THE VOLUME
During the official Obi-Wan Kenobi press conference, Obi-Wan Kenobi himself Ewan McGregor compared the experience of being in The Volume with how the Star Wars prequels needed to be filmed:
“I’d never worked on the StageCraft set before, and it’s just such a gamechanger for us. The experience of the first three, especially Episode II and III, it was so much blue screen and green screen, and it’s just very hard to make something believable when there’s nothing there, and here we were in this amazing set where if you’re shooting in the desert, everywhere you look is the desert, and if you’re flying through space, the stars are flying past you, it’s so cool.”
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Attack of the Clones came out 20 years ago, and this week marked the 17th anniversary of Revenge of the Sith, and there have been some impressive technological advancements since those films. There’s been great progression in VFX work even in the last seven years since The Force Awakens hit theaters, which is allowing smaller projects like the Star Wars Disney+ shows to look comparable to their feature film counterparts.
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While Obi-Wan Kenobi director Deborah Chow was familiar with The Volume before helming the series, she said she could be more creative with the setting this time around:
“Obviously, I started using that technology, StageCraft, on The Mandalorian, so I was actually incredibly excited to be able to use it on Kenobi as well. I think one of the interesting things is in the first season of Mandalorian, a lot of the tech, it’s advanced so much, every passing year there’s advances, so by the time we came to do Kenobi, there were things that we could do that we couldn’t do on the first season of Mandalorian.
It was also really exciting to be able to design and to develop material knowing that I was going to shoot StageCraft, and so a lot of times I’d be looking at the scene as we were writing it and thinking about, how is this going to translate into The Volume, and how can we take advantage of the tech as best as possible.”– Director Deborah Chow –
The Volume has become an essential piece of creating Star Wars, and ILM now has three in different locations around the world to accommodate the growing amount of production that utilize the stage. Shows such as Andor, the third season of The Mandalorian, and the upcoming Ahsoka series have all benefitted from the technology, and once Star Wars films start back up, you can bet that many of those scenes are going to be shot using The Volume.
Obi-Wan Kenobi debuts on Disney+ on May 27, 2022. How excited are you for Obi-Wan Kenobi? What have you thought about the visual style of the Star Wars Disney+ shows? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to follow us on social media for more!
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