That line, uttered casually by the Mandalorian, sets up what has become one of the more memorable and possibly iconic moments from Disney’s latest entry into the vast Star Wars canon: the taming of the blurrg. “We call [them] the piranha tadpoles,” says Goran Backman somewhat cheekily, as we discuss his company’s work on those creatures for the popular Disney+ series.
Backman says ILM also did similar location-based work to inform its environmental designs, with images of Iceland, amongst other natural landscapes, helping to build out the world as realistically as possible. “Starting from something that is natural, that is what you want,” he says. “You want to make it look like it’s real.
He says ILM was keen, in particular, for Pixomondo “to show the blurrg’s eyes well and have that come alive. ” So his team pulled references from elephants and rhinos to deliver that feeling for the viewer. “We looked at how the skin folds under the eyes.
And then from there, we started to animate,” says Backman. “We got the weight from the blurrg and we tried to get it to move it as much as we could because the motion base is limiting because it’s a practical thing with pistons trying to shove something around really fast.
Those muddy puddles aren’t some pure CG creation, however — they’re based on photos taken from a real Toronto park. “Our CG supervisor, he went out and he shot photos of mud outside in the Toronto area,” Backman explains. “And we got lucky with the weather because we had a bunch of snow and it was thawing right at the time, and a lot of water had just run through the area. … And then we take at least 50 — it can be between 50 and 200 photos — of the same area.
At the height of Pixomondo’s year-long work on The Mandalorian, Backman says his team had ballooned to encompass about 400 or so artists.