The Mandalorian's $5 Million Dollar Baby Yoda Puppet Was Sometimes Replaced With CGI
And you didn't even notice!
It's wild to realize that society's obsessive adoration of the Child--more commonly called Baby Yoda--from the Star Wars Disney+ series The Mandalorian has only been part of our lived reality since last November. At that time, much was made over the show's use of a $5 million animatronic puppet to play the beloved character, over a more industry-standard computer-generated version. It turns out that, even with all those millions, the show's production still, at times, relied on CGI to bring the Child to life.
Famously, the puppet was defended by austere German filmmaker Werner Herzog, who played the Client. According to Vanity Fair, he interceded when the show's creator Jon Favreau and executive producer Dave Filoni were about to move the puppet and film a take they could potentially insert a CGI version into. "You are cowards," he declared. "Leave it."
Variety fair has now revealed that, even with Herzog's firm admonishment, the show still sometimes used CGI over the animatronic puppet. A quote from Animation Supervisor Hal Hickel described one instance, where the Child first exhibited force powers.
"Of course, the puppet does the heavy lifting in the show--the puppet is the baseline--but at that moment in time we were still figuring out what the puppet could do and how to get the best out of it. That particular shot of the baby using the Force to pick up the Mudhorn was the hardest from a CG perspective because it was such a big performance moment--its face was so concentrated. We were trying to make sure we didn't do more than the puppet could do, and that we didn't break what's awesome and charming and perfect about the puppet."
The Mandalorian Season 2 is still expected to debut in October 2020. But Disney+ confirmed the release date in February, before much of Hollywood shut down production due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Catch up on everything we know about the next season of The Mandalorian here.