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Virtual Sets Bring Worlds to Life in Ways the Green Screen Never Could

Virtual Sets Bring Worlds to Life in Ways the Green Screen Never Could

A cornerstone of the early 2000s and the industry’s first forays into heavily rendered 3D worlds, the green screen has always had a somewhat beleaguered reputation. Now a common piece of technology that is used from everywhere from film sets to a streamer’s living room, the green screen has improved leagues over where it once was but it may not be enough to stave off some extremely tough competition.

Meet the Stagecraft, a system capable of displaying rendered environments on a sound stage in real space. In other words, if seeing is believing, then Stagecraft aims to make fantasy worlds real and palpable on-screen in ways previously unimaginable. In fact, many viewers have probably already seen it in action, especially if they’re fans of Disney+ streaming blockbuster hit, “The Mandalorian”.

virtual set, Stagecraft, 3D, ILM, technology

It is quite simple in practice, combining the best of the stage with modern Hollywood magic. The aptly named Stagecraft allows for set pieces and physical action space in the middle of a larger room that, when filmed and edited correctly, gives the impression of being a different space or reality entirely.

How this is superior to the green screen is because it allows for this interactive area juxtaposed between two “ethereal” depictions thus allowing actors to interact and react in real-time to real set pieces and objects. Green screen, on the other hand, often required extensive acting direction and imagination on the performer’s part to visualize where and how certain scenes would be composed visually.

Director Robert Rodriguez commented to Tech Crunch, “What’s wonderful about this system is now everyone is on the same page. It inspires the actors, it inspires the filmmaker to now see what they’re shooting. You know, it’s like you’re painting with the lights on finally.”

Wunderkind Jon Favreau largely agreed, adding, “By the second season, ILM developed some software that was specific to this technology and to what the hardware was capable of…It also has forced us into having a more efficient workflow that draws pre-production, post-production, production, all into one continuous pipeline.”

In particular, the show’s visit to the planet Corvus demonstrated the layered approach that “The Mandalorian” could employ when using Stagecraft LED screens. They not only allow for interaction in physical space but also depth and even animated elements on the screen. Add in physically moving the screens themselves and you have a set that not only looks alive but legitimately comes to life via technology.

ILM senior vice president and chief creative officer Rob Bredow highlight the “burnt forest” scene as one such demonstration of this technique.

“Since we had the larger environment, we could actually push the camera well into the volume and out. So you could have these long walk and talks. You had more virtual set and more real set to leverage, so you could do much more expansive scenes like that,” he explained to The Hollywood Reporter.

Hungary is on its way to offer virtual sets in Budapest studio

“We bring four types of companies together under one roof, and so it becomes an end product, a service that movies need. What is needed is the LED itself, the technology that controls the system, the content that provides the background that the virtual world loads. Here we see and experience virtual reality in real time.” said András Krucsai project manager at ORIGO Studios earlier. Continue reading the story here…

China is experimenting with the new visual effects

“LED-based virtual production is definitely the future [of filmmaking],” said Guo Fu, co-founder of Beijing-based visual effects company Revo Times. Some Chinese studios have even started experimenting with their own virtual production sets. Hangzhou-based Versatile Media set up a studio for virtual productions while Shanghai-based start-up Surreal has tested its LED wall display. Continue reading the story here…

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