EMMY SPECIAL PRODUC T I ON .
REINVENTING TV GREIG FRASER, THE MANDALORIAN
We’re sure our readers are familiar with the filming efforts The Mandalorian employed to create visual effects. Unlike previous Star Wars projects, which relied heavily on location shots or green screen technology, The Mandalorian used real-time, in-camera compositing. This involved shooting on a stage in front of a structure termed ‘the volume’: a concave video wall enveloping the set with photorealistic digital backgrounds. “I think this technology is the most groundbreaking, revolutionary breakthrough in maybe 50 to 70 years – or even since sound. When processed screens came along, that was a leap forward, but to be frank, they looked a little hokey in the early days,” explains DOP Greig Fraser. “I still question green screen’s effectiveness because it’s not a lighting tool: I have major contentions with processed screens as they stand. If you are trying to light a set, with in-camera VFX everything around you is a lighting tool.” Despite this, the look is still classic Star Wars , with beautiful, big wide shots complementing tight shots and small camera moves. “If you look back to how Star Wars: Episode IV was made, you’ll see
CUTE CLOSE-UP Anamorphic lenses, in combination with the Arri Alexa LF, allowed for character shots without losing focus
a particular style – we drew upon that from the beginning,” explains Fraser. “Jon Favreau (showrunner) wanted me to watch a number of westerns and samurai films because of their influence on the gunslinger idea of Mando . We started there and figured out the path through. We also knew we were going to shoot with new technology, the LED volume, so we had to create a look for that environment. It meant we didn’t do too much handheld because the volume doesn’t love that. But we made sure there were enough slow moves, dusk shots and landscape shots to work for both the volume and our own aesthetic.” A SPRINKLING OF MAGIC One of the things that makes Star Wars characteristically Star Wars is that it’s widescreen. Fraser and Favreau did discuss switching the 2.40:1 format to 16:9, since The Mandalorian is for TV, but it didn’t quite hit the right spot. “That’s not to say Star Wars could never be 16:9, but for us, the use of a wide aspect ratio makes it what it is.” Fraser’s choice of lens – which he combined with the Arri Alexa LF – was also influenced by the cinematic style of the franchise. “We had the good fortune to use the Alexa 65 on Rogue One and the Alexa LF on The Mandalorian – both times with anamorphic lenses. We used CONTINUED RECOGNITION After winning seven gongs at last year’s Emmy Awards, Season 2 of the space-western is nominated in a whopping 24 categories for 2021
different squeeze ratios, and they had anamorphic qualities,” he says. “Again, you don’t have to shoot anamorphic for Star Wars , as proven fantastically by DOP Bradford Young on Solo . But on The Mandalorian , it was just one of those things that added little drops of Star Wars to the series.” Fraser adds: “What I love about using the LF with anamorphic lenses is the focus fall-off. As we all know, for a larger sensor, the same focal length gives a wider field of view. If you shoot with a 50mm anamorphic on an Alexa LF, it acts as a wide lens without the distortion or bowing that normally has. This really brings the audience in. “For me, if you get a wider field of view, you have to move in. Suddenly your 50mm is closer than it would have been on Super 35; you are nearer to the actor, but not wider. You don’t get that distortion putting a wide lens in someone’s face, so it’s a beautiful look.” “This technology is the most groundbreaking, revolutionary breakthrough in maybe 50 to 70 years – or even since sound”
15. OCTOBER 2021
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