The fantastic behind-the-scenes look at the first season of The Mandalorian continued today with the fifth episode, which this time focused on the practical effects.
Last week, if you remember, we got a look at the digital effects on the show, which were revolutionary, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that the whole thing was made that way. In true Star Wars fashion, The Mandalorian not only pushed the boundaries of what digital filmmaking can do, but also used a stunning number of incredible practical effects too.
That includes some of the most beloved characters on the show. For example, the Ugnaught Kuiil was a suit worn by Misty Rosas, while Nick Nolte provided the voice. Or the assassin droid IG-11, who was voiced by Taika Waititi, was also somewhat practical. The folks at ILM explained that they based K-2SO (in Rogue One) on a human performance, but they didn’t want to this time, based on how IG-11’s movements worked. They built a model of his top half that they wheeled around, however.
And then, of course, there’s the Child. Baby Yoda. Called by the cast and crew simply as “Baby.” The star of the first season, we hadn’t really seen the Child have much of a presence in this behind-the-scenes show, but that changed in this episode. A significant portion of time was devoted to him in this one, talking about how he came to be. In the script, at the end of the first episode it says:
“It’s a baby. The same race as Yoda. And it’s smiling up at them.”
When Dave Filoni read it, he began drawing it on the flight home and then passed that on to Doug Chiang, who began drawing not just the baby but the egg-shaped floating cradle as well. From there, there were many different iterations of the baby drawn, and we are shown several of them in this episode. Jon Favreau wanted the expressions of the child to come mainly from his eyes and ears, and he didn’t want it to be too cute nor too ugly. In my opinion, the final product is easily the best of all the potential concept images shown in this episode. Eventually, a drawing of the child was made that Favreau and his team knew was the right one, and from there they wound up making an actual puppet of the Child on set.
In fact, the story is told of how Werner Herzog fell in love with the baby and actually started directing it as if it were a real person (and Herzog himself talks in this episode of how fond he is of the baby). There are adorable shots of both Favreau and Filoni watching the Child, and plenty of looks at him in action. It’s pretty astounding to see that so much of him was done practically – and Favreau said that evne when they did him digitally, they followed the same rules as that of the puppet, so that they weren’t having him do things the puppet couldn’t.
The episode also, like many of them have, discussed trying to honor what George Lucas did with Star Wars with all of these practical elements, and the episode ended (like others have) with Dave Filoni talking about that being what makes Lucasfilm special, because the people there come into a history of Star Wars and the making of it and truly love and honor it.
All in all, this was another fantastic episode. As I’ve said before, this is one of the best behind-the-scenes features I’ve seen.