Walt Disney Co.’s photo-realistic version of “The Lion King” is predicted to still dominate the multiplex this weekend after already gathering about $79 million in global receipts. But the technologically innovative film’s impact could reach well beyond the box office.
“The Lion King’s” surprising however uncommon production techniques, including its use of video game technology and VR headsets, could also change the way movies are created, according to the people involved in making the big-budget blockbuster.
Though the blockbuster, which is directed by Jon Favreau, is completely animated with computer graphics, the filmmaker shot the film in a 3D virtual atmosphere using hugely traditional production methods and equipment like dollies, Steadicams, handheld cameras and cranes. The strategies were accustomed to give the remake a true-to-life, nature documentary-like feel.
The success of the film, a faithful remake of the 1994 animated hit, could also offer a welcome boost to the virtual reality business. While VR has long been hyped in Hollywood and Silicon Valley as the future of entertainment, the format has struggled a lot to break through with customers because of the expensive and clunky equipment required and the lack of quality content. Investment in once all-the-rage VR and AR start-ups has dwindled in recent years, reflecting the lack of demand.
But for Hollywood directors and digital effects experts, VR holds more promise as an advanced production tool. The ability to shoot scenes and scout locations in virtual reality could have perks for multiple productions, said “Lion King” visual effects supervisor Adam Valdez, who works for the Technicolor-owned effects company MPC Film. The new technological advancements promise to cut down on production costs, save time and plan the shooting of film scenes and television episodes in a better way, and not just for all-CGI undertakings like “The Lion King.”