Creating the Razor Crest

The Razor Crest, the ship from The Mandalorian, gets its close-up in a new behind-the-scenes video from ILM. While so much of modern filmmaking relies on CGI, The Mandalorian team actually went a little old school here and built a model they could use for filming. They still used a digital version of the ship as well, but it’s still neat to see the show resorting to classic modelmaking methods as well.

Creating the Razor Crest

“Miniatures and motion control are in our DNA at ILM, and it’s been over 15 years since we have done a motion-control shoot,” Creating the Razor Crest director Chris Hawkinson told StarWars.com. “Documenting the process wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the company and filmmakers.” To create this behind-the-scenes video above, Hawkinson “spent just over two months gathering interviews and shooting behind-the-scenes footage and finished post-production during shelter-in-place.” That included “the design of the ship, to the engineering the motion-control rig and model mover, to the incredible level of detail in the miniature, to the passion everyone brought to the project.”

As the video reveals, Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau wanted the Razor Crest to partially resemble an A-10 Warthog, and the team used World War II military-style aircraft as their guide while looking for a “George Lucas/Ralph McQuarrie school of an iconic shape.” While the original plan was to go completely digital, it was eventually decided to create a model that could be used to shoot with. To do so required multiple 3D printers running back-to-back for two weeks straight.

There’s a lot of talk here about how models and miniatures were ILM’s go-to solution back in the good old days of the 1980s, and while this video also plays plenty of lip service to the digital version of the ship, I will admit that I miss those old days. When special effects had a physical weight to them that made them seem all the more real rather than something conjured up on a series of computers.

The Mandalorian season 2 hits Disney+ on October 30, 2020.

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