Solo: A Star Wars Story–Creating Sets, Lighting, Visual Effects

The shoot of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” took place mostly at Pinewood Studios in the U.K., as well as two foreign locations in the Dolomites and Fuertaventura—settings equally stunning in very distinctive ways.

The set design was by production designer Neil Lamont, who was able to refer to an “amazing plethora of material” from Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston, Star Wars’ original concept designers, which was especially helpful in the design of the film, as the filmmakers wanted to capture and preserve the spirit of the late ’60s and early ’70s, with more than a nod to the Western genre.

Lamont and his team created many practical sets, notably Corellia, Han’s home planet, built to resemble a Star Wars industrial version of Venice.

The interior Millennium Falcon set, which took three months to build and is the largest interior Falcon set ever made on any Star Wars film.

One of the criteria for the story films is that each one have its own character and its own distinct look, so the director of photography is vital to achieving that goal. Filmmakers were thrilled to sign on Bradford Young as the cinematographer. “The director of photography can make the look of the film a real character in the story,” says producer Simon Emanuel. “Bradford’s work is incredible. He truly is an artist, who lights by instinct, lights by how he feels looking at the particular scene or particular shot.”

Bradford Young’s approach was to create realism with the lighting. He offers, “If you want to feel the snow, if you want to taste the snow, if want to smell the snow, or if you want to feel the sand and taste the sand, nothing is better than allowing that sand or that snow to be lit by the sun or be lit by the moon. I always feel like audiences are now really hyperaware when things don’t feel real. And this film had to feel real. It’s more difficult to work that way, but it’s something that I feel like I’ve trained myself to do, which is to find the moment, find the source, and then construct the moment around that.”

Over 1000 Costumes for Solo

The costume design team, headed by Dave Crossman and Glyn Dillon, made over 1000 costumes for “Solo.” The majority of the costumes were designed and produced in house, and the stand-out costumes for the crowd scenes ranged from wide-brimmed hats and fringed jackets, to colorful indigenous costumes of the nomadic tribes, and all the way to high-fashion looks.

Neal Scanlan, two time Oscar nominee for his creature work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens, is again responsible for populating the “Solo” environments with an extraordinary array of creatures. Scanlan and his talented team produced over 500 designs for the creatures during the design process.

Tying it all together was visual effects supervisor Rob Bredow, who oversaw the 2,000 visual effects shots for the film.

Bredow and his global team of 1,200+ artists and technicians created vehicles, character performances, otherworldly environments and spacecraft unique in the Star Wars universe. The film’s gritty realism is infused with digital creations that set the bar for seamless integration and awe-inspiring visuals.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” offers viewers a chance to ride along on Han Solo’s roller-coaster journey of self-discovery, which director Howard describes as “about a character defining himself and the relationships that will form him.”

“It utilizes Star Wars and the galaxy in really cool ways, but you don’t have to know anything about it. You don’t have to have seen another movie, read a comic book, seen a cartoon, or played a video game. This is about Han discovering himself and the universe.”

What can audiences expect from Han’s journey?

Producer Kathleen Kennedy says firmly: “They can expect to have fun, laugh a lot, and fall in love with Han and Chewie all over again, or for the first time.”