The Corridor Digital visual effects team does their best to reverse-engineer the VFX behind Luke Skywalker’s return in The Mandalorian season 2 finale.
The team at Corridor Digital, popular for their educational reaction videos about visual effects, has just tackled the surprise return of Luke Skywalker in the season 2 finale of The Mandalorian. Star Wars as a whole has resurrected and/or de-aged characters with innovative VFX before, but only in the movies. The Mandalorian is a TV show, and the time and budget restrictions of television forced a very creative solution.
The season 2 finale episode, titled “The Rescue,” pitted Mando’s ragtag crew against the terrifying combat droids known as dark troopers (which were also CGI-augmented stunt actors in costume), with little hope of escaping. At the last moment, in what was likely the crowning jewel of Star Wars fan service, a young, very capable Luke Skywalker arrives to save the day and take the Child with him. Mark Hamill is no longer as young as he appears in The Mandalorian, though he did provide the voice for his VFX stand-in. So how did Luke come back?
Visual effects are complicated, but the reaction series from Corridor Crew‘s VFX team has become extremely popular by making them both entertaining and educational. They often shed light on the specific tricks used by filmmakers and VFX teams from information they’re given, but Disney doesn’t like to share secrets. Watch the first six minutes of their Mandalorian reaction video, where they do their best to figure out for themselves just how Luke’s return was pulled off, just by watching the scene.
They mention off the top that the only thing they know for a fact is that a body double was standing in for Luke, which means the character was not fully CGI, like Grand Moff Tarkin and Leia were in Rogue One. From there, it’s just a few experts in the field taking their best guess, but their logic is nothing if not solid. The Mandalorian has been a testing ground for more than one of Disney’s new VFX technologies, most notably their Stagecraft LED screens for creating vivid backgrounds in-studio. To assume their new deepfake software played a heavy role in young Luke isn’t a stretch. Deepfakes are still pretty new and difficult to pull off, so they’re mostly still used just on the internet for cool mashup videos, as the machine learning is never vivid enough to create a believable character. Even young Luke, as technically accurate as the Corridor Crew admits he is, looks weirdly lifeless whenever he talks and falls at least somewhat into the uncanny valley.
That’s not to say this wasn’t ultimately a triumph for Disney. Luke’s return was a huge moment for Star Wars fans, and for Star Wars itself. By the standards of human CG characters, especially on television, young Luke is undeniably an impressive achievement. The rest of the video goes over some of the comparatively less impressive, but still pretty amazing effects done for season 2, and is absolutely worth the time. Whether or not Grogu returns, or stays with Luke, or if they get a spinoff, The Mandalorian will definitely be back, and probably bring with it some newly unthinkable VFX.
Source: Corridor Crew
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