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Visual-effects production house Industrial Light & Magic published a closer look at some of the new techniques it used for The Mandalorian today. I previously reported how ILM worked with Epic Games’ tools to project virtual environments onto giant LED walls on a studio set. Now, ILM is finally sharing more of how that process works.

In the video above, the production company shows the power of its virtual sets. It can quickly make adjustments to the virtual backgrounds and then capture the results with the camera. This means that ILM no longer has to composite together separate effects and green-screen footage. Instead, it can point the lens at the action inside of one of its “volume” LED production sets.

“Everything in the volume is designed to both light the actors and to be a background that we can directly photograph,” ILM creative director Rob Bredow said. “So you end up with real-time final pixels in camera.”

Above: Yeah, this is probably going to change some things.

Image Credit: ILM

ILM, Epic, and ‘The Mandalorian’ are changing film making

The Mandalorian team says that bringing digital effects onto the set opened up more space for creativity. And this is an aspect of the technology that Epic Games thinks sets it apart.


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“When we started to play with the idea of Unreal Engine for virtual production, that’s one of the things that [visual effects supervisor] Richard Bluff and [executive producer] Jon Favreau started to embrace,” Epic chief technology officer Kim Libreri said. “You have this really dynamic world where you can have randomization of things and find the happy accident that gives you the perfect shot.”

And if the perfect shot means that ILM needs to move a mountain, it can do that. And it can do it immediately, on set, and without having to stop production.

“With Star Wars, we’re building on a rich history of innovation,” said Bredow. “[This is] really a game changer for film making.”

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