Doug Chiang Gives New Details on the U-Wing, Jedha, Vader’s Castle and More Rogue One Designs

Rogue One did an absolutely fantastic job of looking and feeling like the galaxy we know in the original trilogy. The lived-in world that made Star Wars feel like Star Wars, the futuristic yet somehow familiar. One of the many people we have to thank for nailing the look and feel is production designer Doug Chiang who scoured through an incredible amount of concept art by a vast team of artists to bring Rogue One to life. Chiang recently sat down with The American Society of Cinematographers and gave a lot of interesting insight on the development of the film and striking a balance between the old and the new.



The interview takes a deep dive into the most difficult aspects of the production and how long it took to nail the look they were going for. Chiang went into great detail about the most difficult design to get right saying:


[Laughs.] It would be the U-wing — and Kay-Tu, the robot [played by Alan Tudyk]. Our film needs to dovetail seamlessly with Episode IV, but we also wanted to add a component of new. I think it’s very important in a Star Wars film that you add that small percentage that’s fresh. Episode V had the walkers and Episode VI had the speeder bikes. You need that little bit to keep the audience engaged and to build the world more thoroughly, because it is an expansive universe.


He goes on to talk about the entire development of the U-Wing and how that looking back now, they had 781 different individual designs. 781! That’s an insane amount of drafts until they got it right. As a fan it’s really cool to see that – the amount of dedication and time that went into making just one ship.



To me, the most interesting aspects were the inspirations for Jedha and Vader’s Castle. Once they figured out exactly what Jedha was going to be, an ancient city important to the Jedi, they immediately drew inspiration from Jerusalem, which influences can undoubtedly be seen in its design. Jerusalem is an important ancient city that has huge religious significance to just about everybody.


A lot of the architecture was based on Jerusalem and the Middle East. It goes back to what George Lucas was doing with Tunisia and the dome architecture of Djerba [for Tatooine in A New Hope and The Phantom Menace]. There was an early pre-shoot where Gareth and Greig went and shot a bunch of plates in Morocco, and they became the underlying foundation for Jedha City on top of which we could overlay our Star Wars aesthetics. So the city felt very real and grounded in something that we’re very familiar with.



Finally we get some more information about the design of Vader’s Castle, which in a lot of ways is the opposite of the temple designs on Jedha, saying:


“It’s going for the symbolism that maybe these temples are ‘tuning’ the Force, and Vader’s version is going to be tuning the dark side of the Force. That was the foundation that drove the design.”


It was a good mix between Ralph McQuarrie’s designs and that line of thinking, adding that it’s on Mustafar, the place where he truly became Darth Vader, it’s incredible to see it finally fully realized. There is a lot of informative stuff in there and it’s a great view into the production of the film. Take a look at it here, its well worth the read.


For the full interview make sure to go to



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46 thoughts on “Doug Chiang Gives New Details on the U-Wing, Jedha, Vader’s Castle and More Rogue One Designs

  • February 13, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Nice write-up – all great designs for Rogue One.

    It builds confidence that they’re taking design very seriously, with so much tought & consideration going into making things fit in the SW universe, as well as grounding some things with real-world (relate-able) aesthetic.

  • February 13, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    So glad the brought back Mustafar. I never thought that we would ever see a prequel planet in a starwars movie again after disney hired prequel haters like JJ Abrams and Simon Pegg. The prequels have amazing planets.

    • February 13, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      Simon Pegg doesn’t create content for Star Wars and the people who made TFA and Rogue One are the ones who helped make the prequels. Yours fears were irrational.

      • February 13, 2017 at 10:36 pm


      • February 14, 2017 at 2:15 am

        Yeah. Guess who he voted for?

        Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.

        Don’t worry, those Emergency Powers will be laid down once he has restored peace to the Galaxy.

      • February 14, 2017 at 11:18 am

        Abrams had nothing to do with R1 far as I know which is probably why I actually enjoyed it. Same goes for Gareth and TFA.

        • February 14, 2017 at 3:16 pm

          The Lucasfilm production team, meaning artists, special fx and the designers are what I mean. They made the prequels and they are making the new movies.

          So they aren’t prequel haters because they made them.

          I’m not talking about Abrams or Gareth.

    • February 13, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      Even if some found the prequels disappointing in terms of plot, writing and acting, there is nothing wrong about the planets featured (okay, I wish Naboo had been spelt “Nabou” instead). I was perfectly fine with seeing Mustafar again. Another planet too important to ignore is Coruscant. Especially if the capital was for whatever reason moved to the Hosnian system in the Sequel era, Coruscant might well regain its importance after the First Order blew up the Hosnian system.

      • February 13, 2017 at 11:25 pm

        I know but theres people out there who hate everything about the prequels even the aliens and the planets even though in my opinion they are awesome! I guess by putting prequel stuff in the new movies it gives it a slight prequel feel and the haters dont like that because the creator are not ignoring the prequels. I am glad they brought in Mustafar and Bail Organa. That was awesome!

        • February 14, 2017 at 1:07 am

          The R1 Bail Organa was much cooler than Prequel-Bail rolling in that baby-blue-turtleneck……

          • February 14, 2017 at 10:31 pm

            We are not Fashion police. Soo characters are not cool because of clothes they wear. But in my opinion Bail had awesome clothes in PT.

      • February 14, 2017 at 2:22 am

        “Even if some found the prequels disappointing in terms of plot, writing and acting”

        You know, the three things that make a movie. LOL?

        You are right, though. Much as I dislike the Prequels, they expanded the Star Wars Universe more than any of the other films which always had a very narrow location focus and how those remote places played a part in the larger struggle in the galaxy.

        Couple those with the Clone Wars, and it’s given us what Star Wars is today and would not have been if it remained a trilogy. I am grateful for that; as there are some great concepts to be explored during that era.

        P.S. Apparently in the Sequel Era, the New Republic moved its capital every couple of years to deter how centralizing power on one world would affect representation of member worlds through out the galaxy.

      • February 14, 2017 at 11:17 am

        Yeah, The planets were mostly done pretty well except for the overt CG ones. I appreciated that we got all new terrain with each new one as opposed to the rehasing we got in TFA.

        I thought Naboo should have been Alderaan though which would have made it more powerful when the Death Star destroys it and they maybe could have introduced Bail Organa earlier.

        • February 14, 2017 at 10:29 pm

          All planets in prequels are done using practical miniatures enhanced with CGI and real locations.

      • February 14, 2017 at 9:39 pm

        I’m curious, what’s wrong with the spelling of Naboo?

        • February 15, 2017 at 1:54 am

          The “boo” syllable makes the name slightly silly. (I believe it was called “No-booboo” in the MAD parody.) “Naboo” sounds like something out of the Jungle Book.

          And yes, I probably would have found a way of prominently featuring Alderaan instead, adding much poignancy to its destruction in Episode 4. There are hardly any good reasons why Alderaan could not have filled much the same the function Naboo has. (Well, in hindsight some would regard Tarkin as a HERO if he blew up the entire Gungan race, presumably including its most infamous member, and cheer uncontrollably whenever that scene came along. But except for that.)

    • February 13, 2017 at 11:37 pm

      I admit I am not a big fan of the Prequels, but all the different planets and environments I thought were great!

    • February 14, 2017 at 1:21 am

      Yes, prequel haters that referenced the Clone Army despite the fact that they didn’t need to.


    • February 14, 2017 at 2:13 am

      It’s a conspiracy!

    • February 14, 2017 at 6:24 am

      Agree. I am giddy to see Mustafar in a new Star Wars film.

  • February 13, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    weird how Mustafar was the only planet not titled on screen.

    • February 13, 2017 at 11:26 pm

      I was thinking the same thing.

    • February 14, 2017 at 1:14 am

      I bet it was to preserve the surprise of seeing Vader in the bacta tank.

      • February 14, 2017 at 2:13 am

        Yeah, had the planet been tilted he’d have fallen out and ruined everything.

    • February 14, 2017 at 11:15 am

      I figured it was Vjun till I got the Visual Guide.

    • February 14, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      It was to preserve the surprise.

    • February 14, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      Prequel association phobia disorder – Real thing.

  • February 14, 2017 at 2:19 am

    I love how they’ve brought back the mystical elements of the Force in a big way.

    Buildings that could some how “tune” to the Force is ridiculous yet fun and much truer to George’s original presentation of the mystical energy field that binds the galaxy together.

    Plus it’s a subtle smack down to the Prequels. This in turn continues to promote the “alleged” conspiracy to bury the Prequels forever.

    I mean, that isn’t real anyways. All Star Wars films are equal. No one is trying to make sure that the Prequels disappear and are forgotten by all except the Ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

    Never. Promise. No Fanboy Cabal to see here. Really.

    Wait, why am I even talking about this?

    • February 14, 2017 at 6:21 am

      Thank you for saying that I love the prequels because I do.

      • February 15, 2017 at 3:55 am

        It’s sad that you’re the only one who picked up on my sarcasm, but it was meant just for you.

    • February 14, 2017 at 9:36 am

      All Star Wars films are absolutely NOT equal. The Prequels do not carry the cultural-relevance that the OT does. Not even REMOTELY close. Most retailers — including Hot Topic, inc — have ABANDONED the PRequel merchandise because that crap won’t sell. No one wants an Anakin shirt. But fans of ALL AGES still clamor for Luke or Han.

      • February 14, 2017 at 3:15 pm

        Oh, hush. That’s not what he meant and if you took off your blind hatred for a second you would see that.

        He means in the eyes of Lucasfilm. They don’t favor one over the other. And that’s a fact despite what crappy merch is sold at HOT TOPIC.

        And actually, yeah, kids and teens love Anakin b/c of the prequels and clone wars. Despite HOT TOPIC’s accurate tracking of all things Star Wars.

        • February 14, 2017 at 8:26 pm

          More teens / kids love the OT. The numbers and merchandise-receipts are on my side here. The Prequels have not held culture relevance at all. On Halloween every year, you see kids of all ages dressed as OT characters and now Force Awakens characters like Rey. The Prequels have not provided any generation with long-standing icons. You are more likely to see a Teen in a Rey shirt or a Luke shirt — than a “Little Ani” shirt. No one is getting caught dead in that…….

          • February 14, 2017 at 9:10 pm


            I’ve seen kids as Anakin, Obi-Wan (PT, never OT) and Ashoka, not to mention Clone Troopers.

            You left out the popular characters and went right for “little Ani”. Surprise.

          • February 14, 2017 at 10:27 pm

            I disagree. Characters like Darth Maul, Clone troopers and Ashoka Tano are very popular.
            As for ST characters, they are still new. We will see in 20 years how they will standing.

        • February 14, 2017 at 8:31 pm

          And the NEW Films *ARE* favoring the OT over the PT. Hence the recent DIS-ABLING of midichlorians. Hence Force Awakens WIPING out the “Pod Race Flags” that some LucasFilm intern tried to SNEAK past JJ.

          Will take a few years, but we are breaking those horrid Prequel films and their defamation DOWN…… And I can provide lists of more National Retailers that have ABANDONED Prequel Merch b/c it wont sell…… if push comes to shove 🙂

          • February 14, 2017 at 9:09 pm

            no one disabled midichlorians. Fiction. (Also, that’s kind of the point: by using midis in the PT, the Jedi were getting away from their core beliefs.”

            The reason the new films are favoring the OT is b/c they take place during or after the OT, which means they are closest in the timeline to them. Simple math.

            They kept some of the flags, they just didn’t want them to all be podracers. “Lucasfilm intern”? I can make things up, too you know.

            The only one defaming things here is you. And as for prequel merch, well they aren’t exactly making it bc the prequel merch cycle has been over for about 11 years.

            So shove away. Only thing you will hit is your face flat on the ground. Come to reality Lucasfilm (the true owners of Star Wars, not JJ) made the prequels and they embrace them.

            God, I honestly hate that I have to defend that mediocre trilogy to you, but your baseless and blinding hatred is so devoid of reason that I am forced to.

          • February 14, 2017 at 10:25 pm

            Midichlorians are canon. And they are in Clone Wars series explaned even further. Also PT are still one of the best selling movies on Blu-Ray and Digitally.

      • February 15, 2017 at 3:54 am

        Learn to sarcasm better.

    • February 14, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      I don’t see how it is a smackdown to the prequels. The Force created a living person out nothing. It was plenty mystical then, too.

      • February 15, 2017 at 3:54 am

        Sorry, I had just finished replying to the Ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi who dredged up Prequel hate Conspiracy theories, so my sarcasm bled into this post.

        • February 15, 2017 at 3:29 pm

          haha, I hear you. I like the prequels. Hell, I even like ROTS better than ROTJ. But depending on if someone is saying they are the best ever or the worst ever, my position changes into “Be reasonable.”

  • February 14, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I think Doug Chiang is hitting his stride in older age, I was not all that crazy about his stuff in the PT but I liked it in R1.

    • February 14, 2017 at 10:23 pm

      I love his work in both PT and R1.

  • February 14, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Very cool tidbit on Vader’s castle as a ‘tuning fork’.

    Wonder if he has headphones in that helmet…..

  • February 14, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    He done a great job in PT and R1. I love his work. I’am only disappointed with TFA.

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