Jon Favreau’s live action remake of The Lion King was one of the most technically astonishing films of 2019. It also marked a milestone for VR, as Favreau and his crew used VR to visualize scenes before committing them to film. According to one of the film’s senior VFX supervisors, this technique is here to stay.
That is according to Rob Legato, who spoke to Cinema Blend about the process.
“It’s really great to share an idea before you actually cement it,” Legato said. “Even in artificial terms, it’s like, ‘You know what? Let me show you something else. I’ll move the trees over here; what do you think of this?’ And it doesn’t really cost you anything, and you get to experiment and continue to iterate and make better.”
Over the course of production, Favreau and the crew would all meet inside VR to tour virtual versions of their sets to help plan filming. In an interview last year the director described it basically as a “multiplayer VR filmmaking game”. It seems to have had a profound impact on an industry veteran like Legato, whose other credits include Avatar and Titanic.
“Really, I think it’s here to stay. It’s definitely here to stay, and every filmmaker I show, they’re like, ‘Holy shit, this is great. This is a powerful tool.'”
It seems likely, then, that Favreau will use this approach in future films. Fittingly, Steven Spielberg also used VR when filming his adaptation of Ready Player One last year.
Could we see more high-profile names start to use headsets to film their blockbuster pictures?