This is the way! The VFX team at Industrial Light & Magic has pulled back the curtain on The Mandalorian in a behind-the-scenes reel dedicated to the endless wonders of Season 2. In particular, the 4-minute video reveals how creator Jon Favreau and his incredibly talented production team worked hard to capture the magic of the original Star Wars films.
ILM was perfectly-suited to the task since George Lucas specifically founded the company to handle all of the innovations required to bring A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi to life back in the day.
To channel the spirit of Episodes IV - VI, the Mandalorian crew utilized a number of old school visual tricks, including stop-motion animation (for the junkyard where Mayfeld works in "Chapter 15: The Believer") and practical miniature models (for Moff Gideon's Imperial light cruiser in "Chapter 16: The Rescue").
Check it out below:
The reel also explains how the second season was affected — at least partly — by the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, the plan was to send a team out to Hawaii to film jungle exteriors for the train robbery-inspired sequence in "Chapter 15" where Mando (Pedro Pascal) and Mayfeld (Bill Burr) infiltrate an Imperial refinery. Those natural landscapes would then be inserted into the blue screen that were used as the backdrop for the main shoot with the actors on a backlot in Los Angeles.
However, this became impossible once the world shut down in March 2020, forcing ILM to pivot and "develop a fully computer-generated jungle environment for an eight-mile stretch of road," states the video's narrator. "Everything seen in the background of the chase was completely digital and the result of thousands of 3D assets composed to create a natural-looking environment that matched the location [ILM] originally intended to photography."
The first two seasons of The Mandalorian are now available to stream on Disney+. A third season has already been green-lit by Lucasfilm, but won't premiere until after The Book of Boba Fett spinoff (apparently slated to debut this December).