During the final episode of Variety‘s Sustainability in Hollywood event presented by Toyota Mirai, Rob Bredow, senior vice president and chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic, and Janet Lewin, senior vice president and general manager at ILM and co-producer of “The Mandalorian,” talked to Artisans editor Jazz Tangcay about how the virtual production of “The Mandalorian” has allowed the show to reduce its carbon footprint.

When Bredow and Lewin were first approached to sign on to “The Mandalorian,” producer Jon Favreau had just wrapped two virtual production-based films, including the live-action “The Lion King.” And with his upcoming project, Favreau and the team hoped to use virtual reality tools to create an authentic story from the “Star Wars” universe.

Lewin said the key to creating a live-action film through virtual production is “moving post-production to pre-production,” which means creating and editing the backdrops prior to shooting.

Breaking down the process of virtual production, Bredow explained, “You can bring these locations — these amazing desert locations, these amazing buildings that you would probably never be able to take a crew of 100 or 200 people to, because they just might not be suitable for that big of a team.”  She added, “But you can bring these amazing locations into our Stagecraft (virtual production platform) set and reproduce them, make changes to them, make them appropriate for “Star Wars” and put them up on the wall, so the director of photography can directly photograph it.”

Lewin added advances in virtual production have changed the creative team’s workflow. Rather than relocating the cast and crew from one location to another, “The Mandalorian” team shot half of the series on one Stagecraft that provided more than 60 backdrops. Some scenes were shot in a small backlot, Lewin said, especially when the team working in a virtual environment wanted a bit of sunlight to brighten up their day.

By reducing set construction and relocation costs, the production was also able to cut down on carbon emissions by 30 tons, the equivalent of 39 acres of trees for a year, according to Bredow. With lighting, the team used LED-powered lights that use 70% less energy than the equivalent incandescent light. For the physical components of the set, the production designers also used foam and luan, materials that are less harmful to the environment.

Despite creating the upcoming season remotely, due to coronavirus-forced shutdowns, Lewin said the show’s virtual production allowed the team to easily collaborate from home. “The way that we can approach our reduced footprint onset is very appealing to everyone who’s wanting to get back into production,” she said. “It’s not a one size fits all. We can tailor the way in which the production wants to use virtual production, so it could be for a couple of days or it can be for 20 weeks. So I think it’s a really exciting time for virtual production in that regard.”