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“You’re here watching us flap our wings,” Favreau says to me with a grin as he prepares for another take. It’s a February afternoon in 2018, nearly a year and a half before The Lion King hits theaters, and we’re standing inside the aforementioned volume, which is itself inside a squat, nondescript facility in LA’s Playa Vista neighborhood. This is where the movie took shape. It’s where the voice actors met to record their scenes, with cameras capturing them so animators could use their expressions and emotions as reference for the animals. It’s where those real cameras then got swapped out for virtual ones, so the crew could shoot the movie. Today is one of the last days of principal photography, and it’s a pivotal one, involving a tense scene between Simba (Glover), Scar (Ejiofor), Sarabi (Alfre Woodard), and a group of hyenas. Simba has returned to the pride after years away, ready to confront Scar about his role in Mufasa’s death.
Standing at the edge of the volume, I’m able to watch each take twice on the largescreen monitors that overlook the action: once as they’re filming it, and once when they play it back to examine the results. (I also could have put on a VR headset and been there at Pride Rock itself.) At the moment, the scene isn’t overwhelmingly lifelike. The animals, synced with the actors’ voices, walk through their predetermined paths with a perfunctory stride; the environments look impressive but not breathtaking. All of it will later be polished to a high sheen, the footage handed over to editors and animators who will spend the next year and change optimizing each stride and snarl until the finished version vaults out of the savanna and past the uncanny valley. Before any of that, though, there’s a problem...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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