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Nov 26

In a Quartz article, Adam Epstein writes about the filmmaking technology used to film The Mandalorian on Disney+: Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) — the Lucasfilm subsidiary George Lucas founded in 1975 to make the visual effects for Star Wars — deployed a real-time 3D projection system called “Stagecraft” on the Disney+ series that could, eventually, replace green-screen as the film industry standard for rendering virtual environments. The company has been testing Stagecraft for five years — most recently on the Star Wars spin-off movie Solo in 2018. But The Mandalorian, the flagship series on Disney’s new streaming service, likely marks the most extensive use yet of the new system.

Stagecraft’s chief innovation is that it can project a 3D visual environment around the actors that changes in real time to match the perspective of the camera. When the camera moves, the background moves too, simulating the experience of filming in a different location. It’s a significant upgrade from green-screen technology, which requires the filmmakers layer in a static image or footage after filming in front of the blank backdrop. […] The tech has a wide range of benefits. For starters, it can draw better performances from the actors, who don’t have to imagine the environment they are in, as they do when filming in front of green-screen. They can instantly be transported to any location, real or made-up, and feel as though they are there. And that’s another big advantage: Stagecraft allows films and TV shows to simulate environments without actually having to send an entire production there to film. “One downside is that the displays used in Stagecraft require liquid crystals that take several years to grow,” the report adds. “Growing and maintaining these crystals, which are the backbone of LCD (liquid crystal display) screens, can be expensive and time-consuming, perhaps complicating the attempts of other companies to adapt the technology.”

This video from Unreal Engine shows a smaller scale version of the tech in action.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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