Hollywood turns to video game tech to complete stalled productions

Studios have turned to computer-generated virtual sets for upcoming films and series
Virtual sets created from a green screen.
Jonathan Ybema / Unsplash
Virtual sets created from a green screen.
Andy Serkis talks to Digital Studio editor Nikhil Pereira on the sidelines of IBC 2019.
Andy Serkis talks to Digital Studio editor Nikhil Pereira on the sidelines of IBC 2019.

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Video game tech created by companies such as Unity, which was used in the widely popular mixed reality game Pokemon Go, are piquing the interest of Hollywood filmmakers to complete productions that have been delayed due to the Coronavirus.

Hollywood has turned to computer-generated virtual sets for upcoming films and series from big studios like Disney and Netflix, it has been widely reported.

This is, however, hardly breaking news for Digital Studio readers – our October 2019 cover story with Andy Serkis (of Gollum / Lord of the Rings, Venom and Planet of the Apes fame) uncovered the rapid strides taken by the film industry in embracing technology.

We have seen advanced green screen production in popular Netflix shows such as The Irishman and Disney’s Mandalorian TV series.

It has been widely reported that Warner Bros., Paramount, Hulu and CBS’ television studio are turning to these technologies now. The migration toward virtual sets is likely to continue long after the crisis recedes.

Unreal technology was used to create The Mandalorian, including the vast desert backdrop for the fight scene in the first episode between Pedro Pascal’s character and the rhino-like Mudhorn creature.

Apart from a successful acting career, Serkis has been involved behind the camera in several different films. A lot of work gets routed through his London studio – The Imaginarium.

Technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality have transformed the manner in which performance capture is done. The advancements of video game rendering engines have even helped lower production costs.

 “It’s [financially better] now because of realtime rendering using video game engine technologies. Video game engines such as Unreal and Unity are used for large scale film making which help in background shots and sequences. You can render in real time. There are certain shots, even now, that are fully rendered using video game engine technology, which saves thousands of man hours of post-production.” Serkis told Digital Studio in a previous interview.

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