The Lion King’s VFX Supervisor Believes Virtual Reality Will Become A Normal Part Of Filmmaking

by Jeremy Spirogis
Nala and Simba in The Lion King 2019

Jon Favreau’s The Lion King is a revolutionary little bit of filmmaking simply in being an animated movie meant to look hyper real looking – however it’s not solely within the completed product the place you may see the subsequent degree considering, because it was additionally a giant a part of the work behind the scenes. As a part of the event for the challenge, a particular digital actuality program was created that allowed key members of the forged and crew the flexibility to figuratively step contained in the world of Pride Rock and get a way of the setting as if the manufacturing was taking pictures on location.

Based on the commentary surrounding The Lion King each previous to and following its launch this previous summer time, the digital actuality program was apparently a serious boon to the filmmakers working to make the characteristic one of the best it may very well be – and what’s additional fascinating is that the idea isn’t merely restricted to the precise form of animation achieved by the Disney blockbuster. According to VFX Supervisor Rob Legato, it’s one thing that any manufacturing might use advantageously.

Walt Disney Studios held a particular VFX press day on their lot in Burbank, California final week, and it was whereas sitting down with The Lion King’s Rob Legato, along with fellow VFX Supervisors Elliot Newman and Andy Jones, that I inquired in regards to the potential way forward for digital actuality in live-action filmmaking. It was an concept that Legato was passionate about, saying,

I feel Jon [Favreau] coined it, ‘you made a recreation referred to as filmmaking and also you’re in a position to stroll by way of it.’ But even for me, I exploit it quite a lot of instances to determine if I had been to shoot this on stage with all the unreal issues, here is a display screen, here is a lightweight, there is a factor – what wouldn’t it really feel like earlier than I really step onto it, and what mechanical rig could be essential to create this phantasm? Well, now I cannot solely create the phantasm, however I can create the set and stroll round and go, ‘Oh, now that I see it, too near the wall, the sunshine will not be excessive sufficient.’

Surely one of many greatest hurdles for any blockbuster in pre-production should be the issue that comes with planning cinematography and manufacturing design previous to any form of building being achieved, which is the place digital actuality can develop into extremely helpful. While it will clearly take some work for artists to create digital variations of deliberate units, as soon as that work is finished filmmakers can begin interested by their work in solely new dimensions, and have the flexibility to alter key issues with out spending a dime.

Having beforehand labored with genius administrators together with Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, James Cameron, and Robert Zemeckis, Rob Legato is aware of a factor or two in regards to the limitations that may include working in live-action, and sees how digital actuality can clear up these points:

All of a sudden issues develop into clear, and also you reply quite a lot of questions. So whenever you present up on a stage, you may have answered all these questions and are actually on the subsequent degree on day one, versus… as a result of when it will get bodily and also you go, ‘Oh shit, the set is simply too near the wall,’ it is a deal to maneuver it. So you get all that. It’s actually nice.

Once set building begins, issues begin to develop into extra everlasting, and there may be much less latitude out there to alter issues on a whim. As described by Rob Legato, digital actuality has no such limitation, as there exists the likelihood to cycle by way of a number of choices in a matter of seconds, and exploring them is much cheaper than demolition and reconstruction. Said the filmmaker,

It’s actually nice to share an concept earlier than you really cement it. Even in synthetic phrases, it is like, ‘You know what? Let me present you one thing else. I’ll transfer the bushes over right here; what do you consider this?’ And it would not actually price you something, and also you get to experiment and proceed to iterate and make higher. Really, I feel it is right here to remain. It’s positively right here to remain, and each filmmaker I present, they’re like, ‘Holy shit, that is nice. This is a strong device.’

To that final level, all that should occur now’s for extra blockbusters to begin experimenting with utilizing digital actuality throughout pre-production. There is actually the likelihood that Jon Favreau will proceed to make use of it as he strikes to no matter his subsequent challenge winds up being (seemingly The Jungle Book 2), however it will even be attention-grabbing to see among the author/director’s colleagues over at Marvel Studios give it a whirl. Once phrase of mouth spreads, and folks begin to see authentic advantages, a complete new pattern might start.

Whether or not that occurs we’ll simply have to attend and see. For now you may benefit from the remaining outcomes of the method used on the set of The Lion King, which is obtainable for Digital buy and is now on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD. For these of you trying ahead to streaming it on Disney+, the title can be out there for subscribers beginning on the finish of the month on January 28th.


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