Andor Is Breaking A Star Wars Show CGI Trend - And That's A Relief
Unlike other Star Wars shows, Andor will focus on using physical sets and locations rather than CGI. Set five years before Star Wars: A New Hope, Andor will feature an ensemble cast of characters during the early days of the Rebellion. Cassian Andor, who was introduced in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will be one of these major characters, following his transition from a thief to a rebel spy. Based on its first trailer, Andor already looks better than some earlier Star Wars shows, such as The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi. This might be because Andor did not use a new CGI technology: The Volume.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Officially named StageCraft, The Volume is a new invention that was inspired by the use of LED screens during Rogue One’s space battle scenes. This led Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) division to develop a new type of set, which surrounds a physical area with curved, 20-foot-high LED panels. This set is called The Volume and creates more realistic backgrounds that naturally adjust perspective and lighting when the camera moves. The Mandalorian revolutionized this technology, and every Star Wars show has used The Volume since then. However, this may not be a good thing given that both The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi have received criticism for looking unrealistic or even cheap.
Related: Andor Timeline Repeats Disney's First Ever Star Wars Project
In contrast, showrunner Tony Gilroy revealed in an interview that Andor did not use The Volume at all. Instead, Andor was filmed primarily on real, elaborate sets or on-location around the world. This broke Disney+’s trend of always using the Volume for Star Wars shows, which may be good considering the higher quality of Andor’s first trailer. By filming in physical locations, rather than relying on CGI technology, Andor was able to avoid some common problems with The Volume and feature more realistic, immersive settings.
Star Wars Shows After The Mandalorian Have Misused The Volume
While filming The Mandalorian season 1, The Volume was a new invention that lowered costs, decreased restrictions, and depicted stunning settings. Unfortunately, both The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi failed to live up to The Mandalorian’s standard, creating backgrounds that left viewers underwhelmed. Although The Volume marks a major step forward in CGI technology, it does have some inherent problems that filmmakers are still trying to overcome. First, one article [via Daily Dot] notes that The Volume reduces the acting area on a set. Similar to sets with painted backdrops, The Volume divides a soundstage into two parts. One section is physical, featuring real props and set pieces where the actor can perform. The second section is the background image shown by the wall of LED panels. This limits the actors’ movements, encouraging a type of scene where the actors do not interact with their entire setting. For example, Obi-Wan Kenobi featured a scene on Daiyu where Obi-Wan crossed a busy street, but he noticeably did not interact with anything in the cityscape behind him.
Second, The Volume can create lighting issues for the actors in the foreground. Although the LED panels give off some light, they often are not bright enough depending on the setting. This makes the actors look muted or flat on screen later. For example, the final duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in the Obi-Wan Kenobi finale took place at night on a barren, rocky terrain. Due to this, much of the scene was an indistinct gray color unless the former master and apprentice had their lightsabers lit. Although this color symbolism fit the themes of Obi-Wan Kenobi well, it also made it difficult to see the actors. By using real sets or filming on-location, Andor will be able to avoid The Volume’s common setting and lighting problems.
Andor Already Looks Better Than Book Of Boba Fett & Obi-Wan Kenobi
With the release of Andor’s first trailer, it already seems like the upcoming Star Wars show will look better than The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi for the final product. While elements like spaceships will be added with CGI by necessity, Andor’s landscapes and interior shots were real locations or built sets. Many of the sets even had mechanical pieces and functions the actors could actually use. In this way, Andor’s settings should be more immersive for both actors and viewers. For actors, they were able to see the Star Wars world around them – rather than envisioning it – and interact with their surroundings. For viewers, every shot should look real and grounded, allowing them to fully experience Andor’s gritty world. Although The Volume is an impressive new technology, the realism and scale of Andor’s trailer have already shown that Star Wars shows are better off not fully relying on CGI.