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How ILM’s Volume Technology Reinvents Visual Effects (And What It Means For The Future)


Just like CGI has both excellent moments — as the doc itself showed, from the magic of the T-1000 in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” to “Jurassic Park” — there are also terrible uses of CGI, and the same is true of The Volume as well. From “The Book of Boba Fett” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” to “Thor: Love and Thunder” (a movie that feels all but forgotten already), The Volume at its worst can look just as fake as old-school rear projection.

And that’s because The Volume is in essence just a green screen that already shows whatever background is supposed to be made later in post-production, only it is done before filming begins. So just like green screen, it can be seamless and unnoticeable, or it can ruin the immersion of the story. Because it is an enclosed space, the technology can make a scene feel weirdly small and restrictive.

It worked in “The Mandalorian” because it was mostly used for desert scenes with vast landscapes and a handful of characters in the foreground, and not much happening in the background. “The Batman” successfully used The Volume to bring Gotham City to life, but used it sparingly, with the CGI backgrounds meant to be in the far distance and covered by practical sets — like the scenes set at the Iceberg Lounge where the city projected on the windows of the club was made in The Volume.

Indeed, like all magic tricks, this technology works best when unnoticed. According to ILM, the technology has been used in shows like “How I Met Your Father” and “The Old Man,” and you’d be forgiven for never really figuring that out.



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