Despite its innovation and mass successful use, green screens do have several drawbacks. Removing the green screen is never as quick as VFX artists would hope, and can tend to cast a green light over the set and the actors. Even green-screen substitutes, like projecting an image onto a screen behind the actor, fail to dynamically respond to camera movements the way they would in the real world.
Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) software is here to change the game. Essentially, it consists of LED panels that use the same technology as video game engines to place a realistic-looking world behind the actors. In a way it’s a super advanced version of the cinema screen backdrop used in multiple infamous car scenes in 1950s movies (think Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina or Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief).
The best example for use of this software would be Star Wars. The series has made use of ILM in both The Last Jedi and The Mandalorian series. According to Charmaine Chan, part of the ‘Brain Bar’ Virtual Production Crew on Star Wars, ILM “doesn’t feel fake, it feels like an extension of a regular set”. It also enabled her to get up close and personal with the set and crew where, as a post production artist, she would usually work remotely. That collaboration means this technology doesn’t just eliminate a screen — it eliminates a creative barrier.
ILM is ideal for projects that require impossible-to-film environments or include incredibly expensive shots – like Star Wars.