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  • Writer's pictureNigel

Digital sets and stage craft technology

I'm really interested in what seems to be the latest way big movies such as The Mandalorian are being made, and how the big studio's seem to be moving away from, or supplementing green screen, with what they call StageCraft technology.

Apparently more than half the season on Mandalorian was shot this way, using giant 7m / 20-foot-tall LED video screens that were around 70m wraparound (large volumes), to create fully digital horse-shoe shaped wraparound environments enabling them to film in-camera against digital backdrops.

This allows them to jump between global locations within the same day, the majority of the lighting seems to come from the screens themselves, (and don't forget the ceiling screens), I guess the time element dictated by how fast they can change the floor - and can they? - is it a desert or a field?

Image: Industrial Light & Magic and Lucasfilm Ltd.

The backgrounds used in Mandalorian were made by ILM using the Epic Games Unreal Engine and I think the Arri Alexa is the camera of choice, but don't quote me.

They projected the backgrounds around the actors, using physical set elements for interaction or foreground - as if on location - and then shot everything in-camera to create what appears to be a seamless effect that allows them to avoid the costs of location filming, hotels, travel, & closing roads.

To make the effect all the more realistic each environment is lit from the perspective of the camera & can be changed at the press of a button. Gone are the days of waiting for that perfect twilight window that needs shooting in a 5 minute window, you can now have twilight all day!

The actors can now interact with real objects - no more pretending against greenscreen, and no endless post rendering.

This video is fascinating.

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