Without its spaceships, Star Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars—or even Star War. It would just be Planet War, and that definitely would not be nearly as epic. Fortunately, the galaxy far, far away mastered interstellar travel a long time ago. And for more than 40 years, the team at Industrial Light & Magic has been bringing its iconic spacecrafts to life. Now they’re taking us behind-the-scenes to show how a massive fictional ship can look so real. A new featurette provides an in-depth look at The Mandalorian‘s Razor Crest. Building it required a mixture of old and new technology, and also both a digital ship and a real-life model. Not that you can tell which is which onscreen.
“Join us as we journey behind the scenes of the Emmy Award-winning visual effects behind the first season of The Mandalorian. We’ll pull back the curtain on one of our favorite bounty hunter’s ship, the infamous Razor Crest, and look at the distinctive former military ship from its initial concept design in Doug Chiang’s Lucasfilm art department through to ILM artists building the ship in the digital realm and as a practical miniature for filming. We’ll also look at the parallel development of the custom motion control camera system created by ILM Visual Effects Supervisor, John Knoll to allow for the first motion control shots to film at ILM in 15 years.”
This fantastic short from ILM takes fans through the process of designing, building, and filming Mando’s Razor Crest. It all started with show creator Jon Favreau‘s desire for a craft that had an “army surplus vehicle” look. For that the creative team drew inspiration from WWII plane aesthetics, military style aircraft, and derelict planes seen in airport graveyards. Favreau also wanted a ship that predates X-Wings in the Star Wars timeline. And he wanted the Razor Crest, like to the show, to recall original designs by George Lucas and Ralph McQuarrie. Then the hard work really started.
Rather than go entirely with a digital ship, the design team at Industrial Light & Magic also went old school. They built a miniature they could shoot. That process required some classic techniques combined with some modern technology.
The result was a beautiful model that everyone was obsessed with. It made it into 15 shots during season one. Good luck figuring out which ones they are, as the digital ship looks as authentic as it’s real-life counterpart. According to the designers, that’s because having a miniature raised expectations for how good the digital ship had to look.
The end result is a spaceship that looks authentic, both to its world and its character. And it also harkens to the original Star Wars aesthetic. Clearly combining techniques both old and new is the way.
Featured Image: ILM