Can Virtual Production Save Hollywood & Indie Film from Coronavirus?

When COVID-19 hit Hollywood, and for that matter, the world wasn’t ready for it. Film production instantly halted around the world overnight. Millions of film professionals were sent home to shelter in place. With COVID-19 not letting up anytime soon how will film production get back online?

Well, it seems that the technology is already here and it will become the new way filmmakers bring their stories to life now and in the future. For years green screens have been the norm to replace backgrounds of a set. We have all seen actors performing in front of a giant green or blue screen. Then later in post-production, the VFX wizards would replace the green with a “plate” or background. But imagine that you could just shoot everything in-camera without major compositing or VFX work.

Now, LED walls are revolutionizing the film production process by projecting real-time 3D environments using video game engine technology.

This technological advancement is as big as when a CG T-Rex walked across the screen for the first time in Jurassic Park.

Filmmakers really put this tech to the test on Disney+’s Star Wars show The Mandalorian. If you haven’t seen this show do yourself a favor and get a month subscription to Disney+, sit back and enjoy. I also recommend you watch The Gallery, a behind the scenes show on how they made The Mandalorian.

You can how they create this effect in the videos below.

Now you must be asking

How will this help indie filmmakers on a budget tell their stories?

Glad you asked. Just like 3D CG creatures and compositing tech in the ’90s and early 2000s was out of reach for indie filmmakers but then became affordable and the norm, I believe this tech will be a game-changer in the indie film world.

Unlike the tech from yesteryear virtual production technology is based on video game technology that can be downloaded and using extremely affordable if you know what you are doing. That is the key “if you know what you are doing.”

You can see below how a filmmaker can create a film, in their house using very affordable off the shelf technology.

I’m not saying a newcomer to the filmmaking process will just be able to pick up this tech and make The Mandalorian but the tools are there for filmmakers who are ready to make that leap. This is a massive jump in how filmmakers tell their stories. The tech will get cheaper and cheaper and more and more accessible.

The coronavirus has jumped started Hollywood’s adoption of this technology and indie filmmakers will be able to take advantage of this tech to tell bigger and bigger stories on smaller and smaller budgets.

It could be used for world-building or to just have two characters speak emotionally to each other overlooking a beautiful sunset that lasts for 14 hours. I’ll keep you all updated on this tech in the weeks and months to come. What COVID-19 has forced everyone in our industry to do is to think outside the box. Virtual production is way outside the standard way of filmmakers tell stories but man it is extremely exciting to see how this tech will change filmmaking forever.

Can’t wait to see a $100K indie film use this tech to make it look like they shot a $20 million dollar film. Viva la revolution!

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