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April 05
2023

ISSUE

Spring 2023

Yesterday and Today – Reimagining How It’s Done

Ben-Hur image courtesy of MGM.

Ben-Hur image courtesy of MGM.

The Mandalorian image courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd. and Disney+.

The Mandalorian image courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd. and Disney+.

In 1958, the grueling chariot race in the 11 Oscar-winning film Ben-Hur needed 15,000 extras on an 18-acre set built at the Cinecitta Studios near Rome. A total of 18 chariots were built and the race took approximately 10 weeks to get on camera. That sequence cost the producers roughly $4 million or about a quarter of the film’s entire budget.

Ben-Hur and many films before and after it reflected the long tradition of classical movie making – using physical cameras, sets, locations and actors – and a lot of post-production. Today, that movie would certainly employ the newer approach of virtual production (see special section page 66).

Virtual production, as the term is used today, is a newer filmmaking and TV production technique that combines live-action elements with computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create film and TV content. This method uses virtual reality technology, motion capture and computer graphics to create and visualize scenes in a virtual environment, reducing the need for physical sets and locations. This technique allows filmmakers to pre-visualize and design the look and feel of a scene before it’s actually shot and make changes on the fly during filming. Virtual production also enables filmmakers to create scenes that would be impossible to achieve in the physical world, such as fantastical landscapes, futuristic cities or large-scale action sequences. The result is a hybrid of live-action and CGI elements that are seamlessly integrated to create a more immersive and visually stunning viewing experience.

Notably, some recent films and streaming shows using the VP model include: The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, The Suicide Squad, Dune, The Batman, Loki, House of the Dragon, Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods.


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