the batman virtual production

When filmmaker Jon Favreau and the team at Industrial Light and Magic concocted a new way to transport audiences to a galaxy far, far away in The Mandalorian using a combination of video game engines and massive, high-quality LED screens, we knew it was only a matter of time before those techniques started making their way into the film industry’s biggest blockbusters.

Now director Matt Reeves is utilizing some of that Mandalorian technology on The Batman, Warner Bros.’ high-profile relaunch of the DC Comics film franchise.

During a discussion on Monday as part of this year’s virtual VIEW visual effects and animation convention, Rob Bredow, Industrial Light and Magic’s chief creative officer, explained to The Hollywood Reporter that The Batman is using some filming techniques that were pioneered during season one of The Mandalorian.

The movie, which is currently filming in the United Kingdom, is not using the techniques for the entire production, but only for select scenes. Bredow pointed out that the film’s production design team is wrapping a huge LED wall around some pre-built practical sets, allowing Reeves and cinematographer Greig Fraser to create digital extensions and an immersive environment which looks and feels seamless to audiences. Fraser, of course, is intimately familiar with these techniques, having served as a cinematographer on both The Mandalorian season one and the upcoming second season, which hits Disney+ later this month.

Here’s a video of the technology in action:

StageCraft, the official name of the new technology, gives any production an unprecedented level of speed and control over the lighting in a scene, which helps reduce the overall time spent waiting on lighting reconfigurations between shots (which is often one of the most time-consuming processes while shooting). The less time spent waiting for set-ups to be switched out, the more time can be paid to things like performance, framing, and all the other details that add up to make a project memorable. (I don’t want to downplay the importance of lighting – it is obviously vital – but ask anyone who’s worked on a set where most of their down time comes from, and they’ll tell you that it’s waiting for lighting set-ups.)

With more StageCraft-ready production facilities already being built around the world, this technology will only continue to be utilized in more and more high-end films moving forward. (Thor: Love and Thunder will be using it soon as well.)

The Batman was originally set to be released in 2021, but was bumped all the way until March 4, 2022, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

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