THE CASE STUDIES

The basic approach was nothing new: film an actor in front of a projected image, and voilà—a bounty hunter crosses the tundra of a far-off planet. Except now, with LED screens, ILM and the “Mandalorian” team found a way to make a normally obvious technique (think Hitchcock) nearly impossible to detect.  I had been thinking about that when I found myself working on a project with way too many locations for the budget. If ILM could bring a distant planet to a stage in Manhattan Beach, could we bring a small town fair or Broadway theater to Burbank? Could we use LEDs to eliminate the time and money lost to company moves? Increase production value? Shoot more pages per day?  The questions didn’t end there. What’s pixel pitch? How close can you put an actor to the LED screen? Does lens length effect moiré? Is there room to improvise camera angles? How much prep do you need? What’s the best size and shaped “volume” for the scene? And what’s a “volume,” anyway?  Only one way to find out.