With The Mandalorian, Lucasfilm employed a new production technique with technology they had developed called StageCraft, described as a "virtual production solution." StageCraft employs giant screens with photo-real environments which allowed for the series to create its locations on a stage and shoot it in camera, one of the reasons it was able to continue filming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now others are getting into the virtual production game as Sony has revealed their own version of the technology ahead of next week's Consumer Electronics Show. The Hollywood Reporter brings word of Sony's Crystal LED C-series and B-series, each with different potential uses but with the later created specifically with film production in mind.
Each of the displays are equipped with Sony's ZRD-2 Crystal LED display with "ultrafine LED elements." Both the C and B-Series come in a wide variety of sizes for all occasions with "scalible, flexible configurations." The official website for the screens notes its use in corporate presentations, visitor information in displays, and in movie and television production. A demo video released by Sony shows the many different ways that it can be used which you can find below.
Differences between the C-series and B-series are described as follows by Sony:
- "C-series displays are designed with contrast in mind. Enjoy deep blacks and rich colors in a range of environments including showrooms, entrances, and lobbies."
- "B-series majors in brightness, making it ideal for installation in brightly lit environments such as corporate lobbies, virtual sets, and production backdrops."
- "Both C-series and B-series are available in two pixel pitch sizes (P0.05 inches and P0.06 inches) to suit different installation needs and applications, including corporate showrooms, lobbies and productions."
Both the Crystal LED C-series and B-series are set to be available this summer, pricing from Sony wasn't immediately released.
It would appear, based on the released videos and photos of Sony's Crystal LED B-Series, that the primary difference in it and Lucasfilm's StageCraft is primarily size and shape. Images of the production screen released by Sony appear to indicate it's a large, semi curved screen while StageCraft curves almost 360 degrees around the set, though perhaps future versions of Sony's technology will match it.
Lucasfilm's StageCraft has become enough of a game changed in Hollywood, not only in terms of just creating big-budget spectacle media but also in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this year the Disney owned company announced they were in the process of building more StageCraft volumes around the world including in Los Angeles, London, and Australia (where it will be used for Marvel Studios' upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder directed by Taika Waititi). Lucasfilm also has a “pop up” version that has been used as well.