Andor Shot In Real Locations And Didn't Use The Mandalorian's StageCraft Tech At All

It's always the same story: Whenever there's a technical breakthrough in the film and TV industry, it quickly becomes all the rage. As soon as it does, however, certain studios and directors inevitably use the tech to try and cut corners in the filmmaking process. This is how we went from ILM's StageCraft (which generates virtual scenery using high-def LED video walls) being the hottest new thing when used in "The Mandalorian" season 1 to drawing criticisms after being unevenly implemented in "The Book of Boba Fett" and "Thor: Love and Thunder" just three years later.

(To quote Albert Brooks in his 1996 comedy "Mother," "You're [using StageCraft for] everything. It was a good invention, but it wasn't meant for everything.")

On the flip side, the trailers for the upcoming "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" prequel/spin-off show "Andor" look all the more refreshing thanks to the absence of obvious StageCraft backdrops. In an interview from the September 2022 issue of Empire Magazine, "Andor" creator and head writer Tony Gilroy confirmed it's the first of the live-action "Star Wars" series to forgo utilizing the tech after "The Mandalorian," "The Book of Boba Fett," and "Obi-Wan Kenobi."

"Yep, we're old-school," said Gilroy, chuckling. "We didn't use StageCraft at all."

'Amazing! Like being on another planet'

Ironically, the use of StageCraft on "Star Wars" projects dates back to 2016's "Rogue One." It was the movie's director of photography Greig Fraser who came up with the idea of filming cockpit scenes during the space battles by employing an LED screen to project a virtual background. Fraser has since gone on to utilize StageCraft proper to great results in "The Batman," which goes to show: The problem isn't the tech itself but how it's integrated. If it's not done carefully, a StageCraft backdrop doesn't look much more convincing than the old-school rear projected backgrounds used in decades past.

Of course, it's no mystery as to why StageCraft has taken off in popularity. Filming in real-world locations is hard, as "Andor" star Diego Luna told Empire when recounting his experiences working on the show:

"In Pitlochry, Scotland, we had to walk for hours up a mountain to set up one shot. Huge effort. Really dangerous to get there. All you can see around you is sky, trees, rivers, lakes. Amazing! Like being on another planet."

So far, though, that "huge effort" appears to have paid off. Where it's too-often apparent the actors are limited to moving in a finite space in the other live-action "Star Wars" series so far, the "Andor" trailers show the series' sprawling ensemble running around much more freely. More than that, there seems to be a healthy balance between the practical sets/props and CGI in the footage without one or the other being over-used to the degree that it becomes a hindrance. And as any "Star Wars" fan could tell you, "balance" is always vital to a harmonious existence.

"Andor" premieres September 21, 2022 on Disney+. The September 2022 issue of Empire Magazine goes on sale Thursday, August 4.