LED Production Tech, Season 2 Alerts & That Unique Mandalorian Momentum


There was a time in our galaxy when the word ‘Mandalorian’ was foreign, even alien. It was a strange and unknown name, given to a strange and largely unknown club of bounty hunters known as much for their ruthlessness as their efficiency in getting the job done. That is their way.




Ever since “The Mandalorian” premiered its season one on Disney+ in November 2019, the whole world fell in love with the lone gunfighter who traverses the outer reaches of the galaxy in search of bounty contracts. Far from the influence and authority of the New Republic, the Mandalorians carry on their bloody trade armed with superb tech, exceptional training, unique armor, and sharp wits.  



Behind The Helmet

The actor playing the infamous Mandalorian is none other than Pedro Pascal, the man who gave us some great moments in the hit TV series “Game of Thrones” where he played Oberyn Martell.


But he is not the only star of this show that features bounty hunters and a story that links back to the Star Wars Universe. Pedro is accompanied by Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, and Giancarlo Esposito in “The Mandalorian”, which fans have lauded has one of the best casting combinations they’ve seen in a series.


Season 2 has roped in directors like Jon Favreau, Bryce Dallas Howard, Dave Filoni, Rick Famuyiwa, Peyton Reed, Carl Weathers, and Robert Rodriguez. Favreau (The Lion King) is also the showrunner for “The Mandalorian”, and he is executive producing it with Colin Wilson, Dave Filoni, and Kathleen Kennedy, with co-executive producers Karn Gilchrist and Carrie Beck, also involved. Ludwig Göransson’s music for the show (and that killer main theme) has been praised to no end.


Looks like the cast is not the only golden name on this show’s roster. Meanwhile, Pedro Pascal has been busy shooting “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” in Europe with Nicolas Cage. Jon Favreau has shared with Variety magazine that “The Mandalorian Season 3” will begin once Pascal has finished with that project, which could be sometime near the end of 2020.





Hold The Door! There’s Going To Be A Movie?


Reportedly, yes. No confirmations have come in, but there seems to be every possibility for a movie version of this super-popular show. It all depends on the status of the ongoing Wuhan virus pandemic. Much has been shared on how the cast and crew of “The Mandalorian” have been tackling the pandemic in their own ways.


One of the most important factors involved is a clever technology that lets them use LED screens to ‘project’ all sorts of environments that also help the actors immerse themselves in their roles.


The fact that all this can be done in one place, inside a controlled studio setting, has further added to the safety demands that we’ve all been following this year. The tech is so effective that even “The Batman” started implementing it now. The show “Westworld” did much the same during its season-three production. Movies like “First Man” relied on it, and there are other titles on record that have used LED-based filmmaking.


Granted, it is not cheap. But it certainly beats the traditional approach and is cheaper than other techniques that were in use pre-pandemic. In truth, the tech is crucial for any studios looking to jumpstart production amidst the covid-19 crisis.



An LED Revolution in Post-Pandemic Filmmaking




This is the way indeed, especially for filmmakers looking to kickstart production on pending projects. Hopefully, they will all include China as one of their main producers, because #MakeChinaPay is something that seriously needs to happen for what we’ve all been through this year.


According to Variety, Favreau had some key points to share about Disney+’s use of specialized LED screens:


Production technique pioneered for “The Mandalorian” — with wall-sized video panels for location backdrops — [that] puts the show in a unique position within the industry.


This technique not only reduces expenses it leaves a smaller carbon footprint on the real world. After all, everyone is indoors and working with LED screens that bring the vast scope of the outdoors to them, instead of the entire team going to this or that location just for the view.


It is as ridiculously simple as it sounds, and heaven knows why they didn’t think of this before. The pandemic has proven that necessity is indeed the mother of…re-invention. More than 50% of “The Mandalorian” uses this innovative LED approach.


With this tech, film crews have been saved the trouble of having to build their own rigs from scratch. Post-production work has also become smoother.


Mark Gill, CEO, and president of Solstice Studios (“Pulp Fiction” | “Shakespeare in Love”) is on record saying:


 [LED film-tech] was coming anyway. It’s now been accelerated and everybody is pushing really hard for it.



If This Is The Way, Is It Also The Future?




Former Disney CEO Bob Iger shared a few choice words on the show back in February 2020. He stated that future seasons of “The Mandalorian” following season two will include “the possibility of infusing [the show] with more characters…taking those characters in their own direction in terms of series.”


Jon Favreau’s statement to Variety about this was beautifully worded and suffused with possibility:


I learned a lot from my experience over at Marvel, where it was very organic, how it would evolve. You’re paying attention to larger story arcs and characters that could come together, but also smaller stories of individual characters that could go off [on their own thing]. The key here is to keep maintaining the quality and never scaling to the point that we’re losing sight of what’s important to us and what people like about the show…The line is blurring now. Things that you would have only seen in the movie theater, you’re seeing on streaming, and I think it could go the other way as well.


Does this mean that “The Mandalorian” could enjoy its very own universe in the “Star Wars” franchise? Whatever this means for the future, the LED-centric technology we detailed earlier is definitely here to stay.


In a time of social distancing and reductions in how many people can work on set at any one time, not to mention regular testing of cast and crew, and the obvious travel restrictions and budget constraints, the cost-effective and shoot-in-one-location advantage of LEDs will be most welcome.


According to CNBC:


Although not the first production to implement LED technology, “The Mandalorian” has become the most famous for it. The team at famed visual effects company Industrial Light and Magic devised a system known as StageCraft that immerses actors in a 20-foot high, 75-foot wide, and a 270-degree semicircle of LED video walls.


This clever use of LED does not merely fling a static image on a screen, it actually moves that image about as if in a 3D environment. It performs this movement in sync with the camera that is capturing not just what’s on these LEDs but also the actors before it, performing their scenes as if on a stage. The tech, therefore, generates a seamless background that looks as real as if everyone was actually there filming the shot.


Certainly does away with the whole green screen hassle and saves on the CGI bill, if you ask us. Imagine having to edit out that green shine on the Mando’s armor and replacing it with realistic environmental details. This show has plenty of reflective surfaces, come to think about it. Yikes! The LEDs make everything more convenient, and definitely more natural.


According to Erik Messerschmidt, a cinematographer deeply involved in emergent production technology:


LED virtual production technology offers tremendous opportunities for filmmakers; whether it’s car process work, live set extensions or interactive lighting effects. This particular technique is valuable in the age of COVID when insert cars and extensive location work are compromised or otherwise impossible.



Be sure to catch Season 2 of “The Mandalorian” streaming on Disney+ on 30th October 2020. This writer is playing that sensational theme song in his head as he writes. Coz… This is the way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *