Jon Favreau’s The Lion King is nothing less than a marvel of animation, with the movie’s hyper realistic images the clear standout, leaving the audience wondering what might be achievable in the near future and what the implications might be for movie making going forward.
Well, the movie’s VFX Supervisor, Robert Legato, has addressed the use of virtual reality in creating The Lion King‘s visuals, and how much easier and more detailed this made the process of bringing the characters and the world to life.
“I think Jon [Favreau] coined it, ‘you made a game called filmmaking and you’re able to walk through it.’ But even for me, I use it a lot of times to figure out if I were to shoot this on stage with all the artificial things, here’s a screen, here’s a light, there’s a thing – what would it feel like before I actually step onto it, and what mechanical rig would be necessary to create this illusion? Well, now I can not only create the illusion, but I can create the set and walk around and go, ‘Oh, now that I see it, too close to the wall, the light is not high enough.'”
As part of the development of The Lion King a special virtual reality program was created and it allowed members of the cast and crew to step into the world and get a better sense of the setting and surroundings. The process was so detailed that the cast and crew could even get a sense of what it would be like as if they were actually shooting on location. As you can imagine, this made overcoming limitations much easier, leaving the animators with far fewer issues than would usually be the case.
“All of a sudden things become clear, and you answer a lot of questions. So when you show up on a stage, you have answered all these questions and are now at the next level on day one, as opposed to… because when it gets physical and you go, ‘Oh shit, the set is too close to the wall,’ it’s a deal to move it. So you get all that. It’s really great.”
As is the case with building physical sets, things start to become permanent with the option of changing things becoming less and less practical logistically, but this is not the case with virtual reality. As described by Legato, with virtual reality technology it is in fact possible to cycle through multiple options within a matter of seconds, with the ability to explore them in detail without any of the hassle or cost of reconstruction. Legato could not speak higher of the use of virtual reality in making The Lion King, and is very excited about the use of such technology becoming more commonplace in filmmaking.
“It’s really great to share an idea before you actually cement it. Even in artificial terms, it’s like, ‘You know what? Let me show you something else. I’ll move the trees over here; what do you think of this?’ And it doesn’t really cost you anything, and you get to experiment and continue to iterate and make better. Really, I think it’s here to stay. It’s definitely here to stay, and every filmmaker I show, they’re like, ‘Holy shit, this is great. This is a powerful tool.'”
This comes to us from Cinemablend.