Ant-Man 3 Used The Mandalorian Tech To Create Immersive Virtual Sets

"Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" makes use of the cutting edge technology first popularized by the "The Mandalorian," according to writer Jeff Loveness (via The Direct). 

While you may or may not be partial to all the sandy "Star Wars" stories ruling Disney+ these days, it's clear that they're upping the ante in terms of television craft in at least one way. Both "The Mandalorian" and "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madess" utilizes a set-up called "the Volume" to make set experiences feel closer to the final product than they have in the green screened days of filming past. 

While the term "volume" can apply to any area featuring motion capture filming, the Volume means something else. According to TechCrunch, the best modern volumes (called StageCraft when used by Industrial Light and Magic) are massive LED panel walls behind actors that project realistic, dynamic renderings of what the final scene's background may look like onto the wall in real time.

Way more than a green screen

On Bridger Winegar's I Said No Gifts! Podcast, Loveless dug into some of the mind-boggling modern technology bringing Marvel's next Ant-Man sequel to life. The writer says he was able to witness three months of the movie's pre-production, and saw awesome innovations like 3D VR location scouting. The crowning achievement in terms of cool tech on the "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" set, though, seems to be the Volume. Loveless referenced its use on "The Mandalorian" before explaining the unique system in further detail:

"There's this new technology called The Volume, which is basically a living green screen. You can actually put up the backgrounds and the cool visual effects that you want in real-time. Much better for the actors, and then they'll do digital stuff later to make it look better. It is pretty cool, it reminds me of an old David Lean matte painting or something in the background, or Wizard of Oz."

It's surprisingly heartening to realize that Hollywood has circled back to something akin to matte painted backdrops after decades spent in the CGI uncanny valley with ping pong ball suits and blindingly green walls. While "The Mandalorian" doesn't exactly look as exquisite as matte painting classics like "Black Narcissus," it's still much more striking than its typical CGI counterparts. Filmmakers who have used the Volume seem to agree that it's a major step up in terms of visual craft and on-set realism. In a video for Vox, ILM compositor Charmain Chan explains that the technology feels like "you're at that location. It doesn't feel like it's something fake, it just feels like an extension of a regular set stage."

Loveness seems equally impressed, even citing one specific shoot that he says felt akin to early moviegoers seeing the Lumière brothers' "The Arrival of a Train." He mentions a sequence in which Evangeline Lilly's character, the Wasp, flies through a forest, saying that the Volume tech made it look disorientatingly real. "The camera's moving with her and it tracks on the screen," Loveness shared, "so it just kind of looks like a legitimate shot from the movie, and it's very jarring to have this gigantic screen moving like a camera."

"Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" will premiere in theaters July 28, 2023.