How film production has changed over time

Edward Settle
Edward Settle

The Star Wars franchise has long pushed technological advancements in film, thanks to George Lucas and special effects master John Dykstra, who led Industrial Light and Magic, the studio that pulled off the films’ otherworldly characters and environments. Despite more than 40 years in the business, the company is still pushing the boundaries of modern technology to new heights with its newest creation, StageCraft, which it used for “The Mandalorian.”

“The Mandalorian” was Disney’s first live-action Star Wars TV show, which was critically successful when it aired in 2019. Despite its success, audiences at the time were unaware of how impressive the show was. Using a traditional green screen would have presented a very specific problem for filming “The Mandalorian” as the protagonist is always seen in a full-body metal suit—it’d be incredibly difficult to mask all of the green reflections out and the reflections from the scene’s landscape in.

Enter StageCraft, a massive circular wall of LED screens that utilize 3D technology to create a moving, interactive backdrop for scenes to play out in. Unlike traditional backdrops, Stagecraft’s screens are linked via GPS to the camera. If the camera tilts left, the images on the screen’s perspective shift left as if they were filming in a real location. ILM has since rolled out permanent and temporary virtual production stages, the latest located near its facility in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Meanwhile, more and more companies are looking to get into the action with virtual production explored in studios worldwide, including the U.K. and Canada. Despite these advances, the technology is still incredibly young and continues to be expensive, and the industry is challenged to find more viable solutions so studios can stay afloat and film lovers can continue to get their fix of fantastical worlds and action-packed scenes.

This story originally appeared on Giggster and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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