Andor continues apace, with the Star Wars spin-off series quickly establishing itself as must-see, weekly viewing for subscribers of Disney+ after just a handful of episodes.
It’s one of this writer’s favourite Star Wars series so far (perhaps surpassing even the greatness of The Mandalorian’s second season - Season 3 will certainly have a tough act to follow), a tale of subterfuge and espionage we’ve not really yet seen explored in the galaxy far, far away.
We recently hit the halfway mark on Andor’s 12-episode run, and I for one can’t wait to see what happens to - what’s left - of the ragtag group of agitators that make up the embryonic Rebel Alliance (despite knowing what happens to all the main players in the end).
But where exactly was the sci-fi spy thriller shot? Andor has already taken viewers to spend ample time on Ferrix and Aldhani, two brand new planet locations for the sprawling space saga.
Which real life locations stood in for the new worlds, or were they all achieved using the pioneering ‘Volume’ technology?
Here is everything you need to know about it.
Did Andor use ‘The Volume’?
Disney+’s previous live-action Star Wars series have been notable for pioneering the StageCraft digital background technology known as ‘The Volume’.
Made up of a series of large, high-definition LED screens, it allows production teams to project any number of virtual backgrounds onto the set.
These backgrounds are computer generated within Unreal Engine, a programme initially developed for the production of video games.
However, Unreal’s graphical capabilities have become so advanced it is now able to output real-time imagery photo-realistic enough to be used in the production of live-action shows and films.
Combined with technology that tracks the location and motion of the cameras within the virtual set, the backgrounds are able to shift perspective and focus as and when needed.
It’s been used liberally across Disney’s previous Star Wars series, including The Mandalorian, allowing on-set actors to blend into the virtual backgrounds in a much more naturalistic manner than if a ‘traditional’ green screen technique had been used.
But Andor does not make use of this technology, because the scripts were instead better suited to being shot on location and large sets.
Star Diego Luna said that having a different filmmaking strategy for the series made it similar to the production of 2016’s Rogue One - of which Andor is a prequel series - which itself had a distinct filming style from past Star Wars films.
Where was Andor filmed?
In late January 2021, a vast village set was constructed on the grounds of a former quarry at Little Marlow in Buckinghamshire, close to the famous Pinewood Studios production hub used for filming Disney’s Star Wars films.
In April 2021, filming took place in the Coryton Refinery in Corringham, Essex, and at Canary Wharf in East London, where the plaza under the bridge to the Elizabeth Line station served as the entrance to the Imperial Security Bureau on Coruscant.
Several days of filming also took place in Cleveleys on Lancashire’s Fylde Coast, with the town’s promenade and beach area disguised as an alien environment, followed by another several days in Dorset‘s old Winspit quarry.
Second unit filming began at the end of May 2021 in Black Park, a Buckinghamshire country park, while main production on Andor relocated to Glen Tilt in Perthshire, Scotland.
A crew of 500 people travelled to Oban in Scotland, to film at the nearby Cruachan Dam in June 2021, with sets built around the dam, and filming taking place in its tunnels.
The dam stood in for the on-screen, Imperial controlled dam that played a central role in episodes three to six of Andor, the scene of a daring - and tense! - payroll heist.
In late June, filming also took place at Middle Peak Quarry near Wirksworth in Derbyshire.
Where can I watch Andor?
At the time of writing, the first six episodes of Andor are available to stream now on Disney+.
A total of 12 episodes make up the series, with new instalments dropping on a weekly basis at 8am on Wednesday mornings.