Here’s how Industrial Light & Magic orchestrated Luthen’s ‘lightsaber’ ship in ‘Andor’

If there was one stand-out moment in the first season of Tony Gilroy and Disney+’s Andor–and there were several–it surely must have been the moment that Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) deploys the side-mounted laser beam projectors a , almost lightsaber-like, as he spins his Fondor Haulcraft to evade an Imperial patrol.

That sequence was just one crafted in visual effects by the team at Industrial Light & Magic, under visual effects supervisor Scott Pritchard, who worked with production VFX supervisor Mohen Leo and production VFX producer TJ Falls on the series.

Here, Pritchard breaks down the ‘Luthen escapes’ moment, as well as other key scenes set in Ferrix and Coruscant. He also discusses what was involved in approaching the visual effects to match the New Hope and Rogue One era of ship designs, as well as giving Andor its own look and feel.

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The unique style of Andor

b&a: In several ways, Andor felt a little different to the Star Wars movies and the other streaming shows. How would you say that side of the show was discussed in terms of VFX?

Scott Pritchard: When I was first told about it, it was all about that it’s not a big visual effects series. It was not going to have big, flashy visual effects. It’s predominantly an environment show, which I thought, brilliant, because I particularly like doing environments, that’s my kind of thing.

Mohen Leo was the HOD supe for the show, and I’ve worked with Mohen before, as an ILM supe on previous shows. Talking with Mohen, and with Tony Gilroy being such a strong writer, story was the key. It was all about what function do the visual effects play in driving the story forward?

It was funny, actually. I was watching an interview you and Hugo Guerra did with Craig Barron. It was something he said about: design, composition, execution. That was the trifecta, and what we always kept in mind for this show. It had to be well designed, and it had to be well designed from a filmmaking point of view as well. Where is the eye trace of the viewer? What are they looking at? How does it work from shot to shot in the cut? Is it well composed? Is it an interesting shot to look at?