Andor had its three-episode premiere last week, which is already very different from other Star Wars TV shows. It has a much darker and more mature tone, created by the acting, the story, and the atmosphere. Unlike other Star Wars shows, Andor created its environment by shooting on location rather than using The Volume. By shooting on location, Andor looks much better than the other shows on Disney+.
What is The Volume and how is it used in ‘Star Wars’ shows?
Star Wars has been a trailblazer in the industry in terms of revolutionizing visuals within the film medium. They continued this trend in The Mandalorian by introducing StageCraft, also known as The Volume. The Volume is a massive soundstage with LED panel walls that creates digital backgrounds. Unlike a green or blue screen, actors and filmmakers can now visually see what they’re working with rather than only seeing it in post-production.
The Volume does have positives and negatives. It can save digital effects artists time as they do not have to go back and remove possible reflections or errors that come with using a green screen. Actor cans also work directly off of their environment instead of having to rely on their imagination. For example, Ewan McGregor was vocal about how much easier it was to film Obi-Wan Kenobi with The Volume rather than using green screens, which were used for the prequels.
However, some downsides come with it. Sometimes, the backgrounds in The Mandalorian and other shows that utilize The Volume can look fake, and actors cannot interact with their surroundings. Plus, it can create continuity errors if the camera cuts and the background is now missing objects or looks slightly different than before.
‘Andor’ does not use The Volume and it looks better than other ‘Star Wars’ shows
Creator Tony Gilroy elected not to use The Volume for Andor, and the results are paying off with just the first three episodes. Andor is shot on location, and it looks more cinematic, with grand sets and a dirtier atmosphere that fits the tone. While it doesn’t have the same budget as Rogue One, it’s hard to notice any difference in quality.
Actors in Andor are also able to play around more with the setting. For example, the episode 3 shootout in the warehouse is intense, and part of that is due to the actual props and the actors’ ability to move around the set. When Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) walks through the shipyard with wrecked ships, the lighting and attention to detail allow audiences to feel more immersed in the post-war atmosphere. It may be more work for the creative team since they have to build everything and add all the little details, but it’s paying off so far with all of the positive reactions.
Fans are noticing the difference
It’s not just a small group of Star Wars fans noticing the difference in production quality. The reactions from audiences and critics have been incredibly positive, and many are praising the fantastic production design. Many are happier with the grittier tone, and the practical sets and effects bring that tone to life. The Volume has plenty of benefits, but Star Wars has always benefitted from being less digital, and that’s true for Andor.
Andor is streaming on Disney+.