Here’s how Lucasfilm used the Unreal Engine to make the hit Disney series, “The Mandalorian”

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Here’s how Lucasfilm used the Unreal Engine to make the hit Disney series, “The Mandalorian”

Fri, 3 Nov 2023

The Mandalorian is a space Western that kicks into the Star Wars timeline at the point after the defeat of the Empire at the hands of rebel forces. It focuses on a local bounty hunter operating in the Outer Rim, drawing on the fictional race of Mandalorians that was originally created by George Lucas. The film was inevitably going to be innovative and the use of the Unreal Engine had some big advantages.

Epic Games Unreal Engine 4

We’ve come to expect cutting edge from Lucasfilm so it was perhaps no surprise that this collaboration with John Favreau that has proven a wildly popular hit was rife with it. Perhaps the biggest single innovation to note was the use of Epic Games Unreal Engine 4. This was integrated into the set for the Mandalorian via a  20-foot high, 270-degree semicircular LED video wall. The wall showed the backdrop for the scene, essentially taking on the role of location and scenery in a hyper realistic way. It’s a bit like the way old school background projections were used in film – only way more effective. The projection on the wall was happening in real time, which allowed the actors to interact with it, and looked much more believable than films where it has been added in later.

Why did the Unreal Engine make a difference?

As well as being present in real time it added a huge amount of flexibility to the way that this Disney series could be produced. For example, shooting could happen in multiple ‘locations’ in a single day thanks to the use of the wall. It meant that the cast and crew could shoot for as long as it took to get the right shot, without being subject to weather or sunlight, and improved versatility too – mountains (and other visuals) could literally be moved in order to get this right.

The Sci-Fi fuel of the future?

The huge LED video wall, combined with Unreal Engine, could well pave a new path for how sci-fi movies are made in the future. It offers all the production values of a big budget release but with a most cost-conscious approach. It could even prove to be a more sustainable approach to film-making, given the potentially lower transport and equipment commitments involved. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that could be a very useful platform in a creative medium like sci-fi. In The Mandalorian, the video wall transported the cast and crew anywhere during shooting, from The Client’s hideout to Maldo Kreis ice world – the challenges of bringing these aesthetics to life were much easier to manage with this technology on board.

The Unreal Engine, plus that huge LED video wall proved to be a gamechanger for The Mandalorian – and could change the face of filmmaking going forward too. Innovation is at the core of everything we do at Scott Fleary, from engineering to the kind of LED and electrics that could bring a giant video wall to life.

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