'The Mandalorian' Used Practical Miniature Ships, Shot Like The Original 'Star Wars' Trilogy

Jon Favreau is becoming known as a director who loves testing the boundaries of cutting-edge technology and using that to further the limits of filmmaking. But sometimes, even he loves to go old-school. The writer, creator, and showrunner of The Mandalorian revealed that the effects used to shoot the ship of the titular bounty hunter, called the Razorcrest, will be entirely practical.

Inspired by the use of models to shoot the ships of the original Star Wars trilogy, Favreau and fellow executive producer Dave Filoni (Clone Wars) elaborated at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on how they teamed up with Industrial Light & Magic to pay homage to the original Star Wars movies by shooting with old-fashioned models and rigs.

Favreau and Filoni's recruited ILM's Doug Chiang for the design of the Razorcrest, which has a worn-out, grimy design that befits its history as a "reflective silver old army surplus gunship." Inspired by the design, Favreau suggested that they build a miniature just "for lighting reference." However, it ballooned from there, and the discussions turned to shoot the ship "with a miniature like they used to do with the motion-control rig," Filoni said. That's when the Star Wars fans at ILM became involved.

Jon: Up at ILM there's a lot Star Wars fans, and people started coming out the woodwork when they heard that we were doing this.Dave: We had a meeting [with ILM], and there were more people in the meeting than normal. And we started talking about the process of building a model, and there was a lot of interest in that. Then we started hearing that [John Goodson]'s making something in his garage.Jon: It was like a Star Wars club back in high school. So, up in ILM, they shot some behind-the-scenes footage of how they did that.

Favreau and Filoni showed footage of the ILM team building the models in their garages and rigging up cameras to shoot the ship, just like the old days. But this time there were some injections of new technology — the team built the models using 3D printing, and used LEDs for the engines. But there was still a touch of nostalgia during the whole process, with Filoni noting that the team even went back and researched the flight patterns in old Star Wars films.

"Star Wars at its core has to feel hand-made and practical," Favreau said. "So we have a lot of audio-animatronics and puppetry, all the techniques that we've used from the beginning."

But really, the reason that the team behind The Mandalorian decided to use practical models was for Jon Favreau's desk. "The trick I learned from Guillermo del Toro, make sure you build practical props so you can have it for your house. [Dave] has nothing from Clone Wars...You can't hang a Quicktime up in your office!"

The Mandalorian debuts on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.