Unreal Engine was an important part of the Disney series.

Some of us are still mentally projected that series based on a galaxy far, far away but at the same time with the air of a western that Disney + premiered as one of its flagships: ‘The Mandalorian’. It is not something strange given the scenarios that were shown to us in the planetary adventures of this peculiar bounty hunter and his most particular companion, and it is still surprising us the technology used to generate the scenarios

At the moment we knew that they had innovated thanks to Stagecraft, a technique that although with foundations from decades ago was perfected to give the result that many of you will have seen, making us almost feel the heat of the desert when in reality it was a study (large, but Not that much). The possibilities of it are many for cinematographers, filmmakers and other members of a production, and what we now know is that Epic Games, the developer of ‘Fortnite’, has a bigger piece of cake than we thought of all this magic

Unreal Engine was an important part of the Disney series

Goodbye to chroma

Stagecraft is a system of real-time 3D projection that goes beyond what a chroma allows. It consists of the projection of a 3D environment around the actors, which changes in real time to adapt to the perspective of the camera, so that when the camera moves, the background also moves from their hand.

The effect it is very successful and it manages to convey the feeling that it is filming in a forest, a glacier or any other setting when it is not. In fact, the technique also quite successfully achieves very dark interior scenarios such as that kind of office in which he meets “The Client”.

Unreal Engine was an important part of the Disney series

‘The Mandalorian’ was not the first content that Stagecraft has released, but was already used in the movie ‘Solo’, for which they have been developing it for more than five years. Although it is true that, as pointed out in Quartz, in the Disney + series it is where it has been used to a much greater degree.

In fact, the foundation of Stagecraft comes from the rear projection, a technique that began to be used more frequently in the 30s in which the visual effect of the actors in different scenarios was created thanks to placing them between the camera and a screen on which a still or moving image was reproduced (previously filmed ). It was used in films like ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Aliens: The return’ or ‘Terminator 2: The final judgment’, and it was progressively evolving towards more sophisticated techniques like the one we have seen in this case.

Unreal Engine was an important part of the Disney series

One of video games to achieve greater realism

The ins and outs of this technique have already been revealed, but it doesn’t hurt to remember them a bit before talking about the role of Unreal. The physical space in which it is filmed (“The Volume”) is made up of a real physical floor (and in line with what is going to be emulated) and three large LED panels with 4K resolution (“Render Nodes”) on the left, right and on the ground (the latter as a sky).

More than 50% of visual effects are born thanks to Unreal Engine 4

Unreal Engine was an important part of the Disney series

The main evolution with respect to rear projection is that in this case a 3D CGI stage is loaded, and since the panels are connected to the camera, if the camera rotates the stage will react as a consequence of said movement. These 3D scenarios were generated with the graphics engine Unreal Engine 4, making public that more than 50% of the visual effects are born thanks to the technology of the well-known engine in a beautiful video from behind the cameras.

In fact, a few months ago it was the people at Epic Games who were showing the potential of your engine in the film world taking advantage of SIGGRAPH 2019, a great event organized by the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery). What they taught was Project Spotlight, which allows directors to have realistic, fully lit sets that can be modified in real time.

Those who were in charge of composing the universe in which ‘The Mandalorian’ takes place are Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the Lucasfilm subsidiary that George Lucas founded in 1975 to create the special effects of ‘Star Wars’ and the rest of the films . This team turned to Unreal Engine to create all those landscapes and sets that we see in the series, achieving much more realism and with one of the added advantages of Stagecraft: that the actors can immerse themselves much better in that imaginary environment than in front of a green wall.

Unreal Engine was an important part of the Disney series

They explain in Polygon that environments were edited in real time and that they allowed the cast to interact much better with them. A technique that also saves time, effort and money by not having to take the entire team for months to a location (perhaps remote, expensive and adverse) to shoot and to be able to do it in multiple “locations” in a single day.

“This is the way” for the industry (according to Lucasfilm)

As we have said, it is a kind of magic combo. The symbiosis between Stagecraft and Unreal Engine 4 gives much more realistic results, allowing the work of the lighting team to avoid the headaches involved in moving from one exterior to another and being able to play with the lighting to create frames that, as we said at the beginning, it is impossible for us to forget at the moment.

Hence, it involves a qualitative and technological leap to using a chroma, which requires a static image. Not surprisingly, from Lucasfilm they stick out their chest and believe this technique will revolutionize the way complex shots are planned and executed in the cinema, according to declared the president of the company Kathleen Kennedy (and that they included in Quartz).

Unreal Engine was an important part of the Disney series

It is clear that nothing can replace a real setting in terms of realism (and if not that they tell the staff of ‘Game of Thrones’ and other productions that have dealt with extreme climates and uninhabitable locations), but of course this combo gives a lot of play and says a lot about the potential of third-party engines.

Images | Slashfilm