The Lion King technology

Back in 2017, I caught a glimpse of the future.

During a visit to the set of Jon Favreau’s The Lion King, we got a look at the technology the director and his team used to create the film’s locations in virtual reality. Using a video game engine called Unity, all of the movie’s sets were built as explorable environments that can be visited and scouted by simply donning a virtual reality headset. You can be standing in a sound stage in Playa Vista, California at 9am, and then, five seconds later, be looking around the African plains as the sun sets in the distance.

During our set visit interviews, some of The Lion King’s primary crew members shared their observations and insights about what other kinds of movies could be made with this technology and how it might change the way we think about entertainment moving forward. Remaking classic films is just the beginning – this could be a stepping stone to an entirely new form of experiential entertainment. Read More »

Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor Rob Legato has been involved in many Hollywood classics and blockbusters over the last two decades, including: Apollo 13, Titanic, Armageddon, Cast Away, Harry Potter, Bad Boys 2, The Aviator, The Departed, Avatar, and Hugo. Over the summer, Legato gave a TED talk entitled “The Art of Creating Awe” about how visual effects are used to recreate reality or sometimes even “trump the real thing”.

In the TED Talk, Legato shows us behind the scenes footage of how the movie magic was created, how he tries to recreate the idealized memory of a moment and not necessarily the reality of a moment We learn about the reaction from a NASA consultant who worked on Apollo 13 and legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin. We see how he seamlessly blended real footage of the Titanic with shots of miniature models, and how our brain is tricked into believing that its all real. And lastly, Legato shows how set size limitations on Martin Scorsese’s Hugo resulted in some creative choices: Moving the floor to create the illusion that the train was moving and combining a five different sets and a multitude of shots into the long “steadicam” shot from the beginning of the film.

In the wake of excitement over NASA’s mars rover Curiosity I recently revisited Apollo 13, and was amazed at how well the visual effects held up for a movie released 17 years ago. And after watching Legato’s TED Talk, I’m pretty sure most people watching the film today probably don’t even notice the visual effects. Watch Legato’s TED Talk embedded after the jump.

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