Andor breaks the CGI Trend on the Star Wars Show — and It’s a Relief

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Unlike other Star Wars shows, Andor will focus on using physical scenery and locations rather than computer graphics. The events unfold five years before “Star Wars: A New Hope”. Andor will present many characters from the first days of the Uprising. Cassian Andor, introduced in Rogue One: Star Wars. Judging by the first trailer, Andor already looks better than some earlier “Star Wars” shows, such as “The Book of Boba Fett” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” This may be due to the fact that Andor did not use a new computer graphics technology: volume.

The Volume, officially named StageCraft, is a new invention inspired by the use of LED screens during space battle scenes in Rogue One. This prompted Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) division to develop a new type of scenery that surrounds the physical area with 20-foot-high curved 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 “Tom” ever since. However, this may not be a good thing, given that both “Boba Fett’s Book” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” have been criticized for looking unrealistic or even cheap.

On the contrary, showrunner Tony Gilroy said in an interview that Andor did not use The Volume at all. Instead, Andor was shot mostly on real, elaborate sets or locations around the world. This broke the trend of Disney+ to always use Volume for Star Wars shows, which may be a good thing given the higher quality of Andor’s first trailer. By shooting in real locations rather than relying on computer graphics technology, Andor was able to avoid some common “Volume” issues and use more realistic, immersive scenery.

The Star Wars Show After the Mandalorian Misused the Volume

During the filming of the first season of The Mandalorian, Tom was a new invention that reduced costs, reduced restrictions and depicted stunning scenery. Unfortunately, both The Boba Fett Book and Obi-Wan Kenobi failed to meet the standards of the Mandalorian, creating a backdrop that did not impress the audience. Despite the fact that “Tom” represents a big step forward in computer graphics technology, it has some inherent problems that filmmakers are still trying to overcome. Firstly, one article [via the Daily Dot] notes that the volume reduces the active area on the set. Like the scenery with painted backgrounds, The Volume divides the sound stage into two parts. One section is physical, with real props and scenery where an actor can perform. The second section is a background image shown by a wall of LED panels. This restricts the actors’ movements, encouraging a scene in which the actors do not interact with their entire surroundings. For example, Obi-Wan Kenobi showed a scene on Daiya where Obi-Wan was crossing a busy street, but he didn’t visibly interact with anything in the urban landscape behind him.

Secondly, the volume can create lighting problems for actors in the foreground. Although LED panels emit a certain amount of light, they are often not bright enough depending on the settings. This makes the actors look muted or flat on screen later. For example, the final duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in the final of Obi-Wan Kenobi took place at night on a barren rocky terrain. Because of this, most of the scene was painted in an indistinct gray color, unless the former master and disciple had lightsabers lit. Although this color symbolism corresponded well to the themes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, it also made it difficult to see the actors. Using real scenery or shooting on the spot, Andor will be able to avoid the typical problems with setting and lighting for the “Volume”.

Andor Already Looks Better Than Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Book

With the release of Andor’s first trailer, it already seems that the upcoming Star Wars show will look better than Boba Fett’s Book and Obi-Wan Kenobi for the final product. While elements such as spaceships would be added with CGI as needed, Andor’s landscapes and interiors were real locations or constructed sets. Many of the sets even had mechanical parts and functions that the actors could use. Thus, Andor’s settings should be more exciting for both the actors and the audience. As for the actors, they could see the world of “Star Wars” around them, rather than imagine it, and interact with their surroundings. For the audience, each frame should look real and mundane, allowing them to fully experience the harsh world of Andor. Although “Volume” is an impressive new technology, the realism and scale of Andor’s trailer have already shown that the Star Wars show is better not to rely entirely on computer graphics.

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