Industrial Light & Magic Expands Virtual Production Services, Supports 'Thor 4'

Virtual Production -On the set of THE MANDALORIAN- Lucasfilm Publicity_H 2020
Courtesy of Melinda Sue Gordon /Lucasfilm Ltd.

Lucasfilm's VFX unit Industrial Light & Magic is growing its virtual production services, which will  support productions including Marvel's Taika Waititi-directed Thor: Love and Thunder. The expansion also supports a training program that's part of the company's diversity initiatives.

ILM’s existing StageCraft LED set at Manhattan Beach Studios was configured for Jon Favreau's virtual production of Lucasfilm's Disney+ series The Mandalorian, which is nominated for 15 Emmys including one for its visual effects. This project prompted the introduction of ILM's virtual production services offering, which was announced in February.

Now a second StageCraft set will be installed at Manhattan Beach Studios to further support Los Angeles-based clients. It's expected to be operational next March. In addition, ILM is building a StageCraft volume at Pinewood Studios in London (expected to open in February), and a larger custom volume at Fox Studios Australia that will be used for Thor: Love and Thunder. Waititi previously used virtual production when he helmed the final episode of The Mandalorian season one.

As previously announced, ILM also provides “pop up” virtual production configurations, as it recently did for Netflix's The Midnight Sky, helmed by George Clooney.

According to the company, the newest stages are larger, use more LED panels than ILM’s original stage and offer higher resolution. “When combined with Industrial Light & Magic’s expert visual effects talent, motion capture experience, facial capture via Medusa, Anyma, and Flux, and the innovative production technology developed by ILM’s newly integrated Technoprops team, we believe we have a unique offering for the industry,” said Rob Bredow, head of ILM.

Meanwhile, through its longstanding Jedi Academy training program, ILM is expanding its diversity and inclusion efforts by offering paid internships and apprenticeships with an eye toward those with underrepresented backgrounds. Participants will work on actual productions with ILM supervisors and producers who serve as mentors.“We believe this program can have a multiplier effect, attracting even more diverse talent to the industry and creating a pipeline for visual effects careers," said ILM vp of operations Jessica Teach, who oversees the company's diversity and inclusion initiatives.