Entertainment & Content

A Whole New World: Tech in Filmmaking

Overview Storytelling powerhouse Walt Disney Studios launched StudioLab as a dedicated space for tech innovations advancing the future of creative filmmaking. From the lab, cutting-edge solutions are creating and improving ways for Disney to connect with audiences.

On the CES® 2019 keynote stage with Verizon, Walt Disney Studios CTO Jamie Voris highlighted how technology has the potential to fundamentally change the consumption of entertainment media.

In the new Disney StudioLabs, an innovation center and program exploring the way technologies can develop next-generation entertainment, creative minds discuss and establish ways for technology to improve the making and marketing of movies.

During the Verizon keynote presentation, Voris announced that Disney StudioLab and Verizon were partnering to dive into the potential of 5G.

“5G is going to change a lot about our business,” Voris said, “everything from how we connect to our production facilities around the world to how we deliver our movies to cinemas.”


A Year Later

In December 2019, the world premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker unveiled two outcomes of the collaboration between Verizon and Disney with 5G.

At the livestreamed red carpet premiere, devices connected to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network sent high-definition real-time feedback of the event and were integral in helping Disney Studios incorporate key red carpet moments into the premiere’s broadcast, shown over multiple social media networks.

Teaming up with ILMxLAB, Disney and Verizon also created virtual Sith Jet troopers in an authentic Star Wars environment. The troopers, moved digitally and remotely by actors in motion capture suits from Verizon Media’s 5G studio, could interact with attendees in real-time through 5G.

The system used for the Sith Jet troopers also showcases virtual reality (VR), another technology the creative minds at StudioLab are experimenting with.


Virtual Productions and Virtual Characters

Created in partnership with Oculus, the VR system allows Disney characters to appear in retail locations, amusement parks and more — or even all of those locations at the same time —  while solving for logistics, pricing and travel difficulties.

Another tool incorporating VR is Disney’s Virtual Production System, which provides creators with real-time visualizations of what the fully rendered film will look like. VR headsets allow the team to immediately see the effects of lighting changes, and multiple people can control and make changes to the production at the same time.

5G is going to change a lot about our business, everything from how we connect to our production facilities around the world to how we deliver our movies to cinemas.

Jamie Voris
CTO, Walt Disney Studios

Drones Bring Locations to the Director

Even in pre-production, StudioLab innovations and technology implementations help better prepare the Disney team and improve workflows. For example, Disney is using a DJI drone to capture hundreds of photos of production locations from all angles. Software created by Accenture Interactive is then able to turn the images into 3D virtual models to give directors a close-up and accurate look at the area.

Designers are able to build production sets and make logistic decisions based on the models instead of visiting the location in person.

From artificial intelligence providing creative acting direction to internet-enabled light bulbs projecting 3D scenes onto multiple walls for a glasses-free immersive experience, the innovation brewing at StudioLab is awe-inspiring. As a playground for the developers at Disney and its partners, StudioLab is keeping up Disney’s reputation as a leader in the entertainment and tech industries.

Look back on the announcement of Verizon and Disney’s partnership at CES 2019.

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