How ILM’s volume technology is reinventing visual effects (and what it means for the future)
Just as CGI has two great moments – as the doc itself showed, from the T-1000 magic in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” to “Jurassic Park” – there are also terrible uses of CGI, and the same goes for Le Volume too. From “The Book of Boba Fett” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” to “Thor: Love and Thunder” (a movie that already seems all but forgotten), The Volume at its worst can feel as fake as old-school rear projection.
And that’s because The Volume is essentially just a green screen that already shows any background that’s supposed to be created later in post-production, but that’s done before filming begins. So, just like green screen, it can be transparent and unnoticeable, or it can ruin the immersion of the story. Because it’s an enclosed space, technology can make a scene feel oddly small and restrictive.
This worked in “The Mandalorian” because it was mostly used for desert scenes with vast landscapes and a handful of figures in the foreground, and little 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 distance and covered by convenient sets – like the scenes set at the Iceberg Lounge. where the city projected on the club’s windows were made in The Volume.
Indeed, like all magic tricks, this technology works best when it goes 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 understanding that.