Star Trek: Discovery Offers Behind-the-Scenes Look at the New AR Wall

A new behind-the-scenes featurette offers a look at the "real-life holodeck," which is how the Star Trek: Discovery cast and crew refer to the AR wall installed at the show's Toronto studio when production began on the series' fourth season. The AR wall, built by effects house Pixomondo, is a massive 30-foot-by-70-foot LED screen wrapped around a studio set. VFX artists can project landscapes and objects onto the screen and have them react to camera focus. The Mandalorian made the technology famous as an upgrade to green screen, the industry standard for large VFX shots. As some of Star Trek: Discovery's actors explain in the video, actors seeing the environment while filming can make a world of difference in the performance. The absence of any green spill makes for a more straightforward post-production process and fewer on-location shots, both of which were boons during the pandemic when Discovery began filming its fourth season.

Visual effects supervisor Jason Zimmerman previously explained how valuable the wall is during an interview with American Cinematographer. "Getting something in-camera on the day is so much better than greenscreen in many ways," he said. "One major difference [in terms of workflow] is that the production-design and art departments are a lot more involved much earlier in the process, because they have to get assets ready to be photographed instead of waiting until after the shoot."

He continued, "In the COVID era, being able to shoot large-scale locations without having to leave the stage is a huge benefit. The LED wall is fantastic for creating environments, and on Star Trek, of course, traveling to different worlds is something we're very interested in doing."

Star Trek: Discovery fans saw some of the finished shots using the AR wall in the first two episodes of season four during scenes at Starfleet headquarters (such as the one paying tribute to Star Trek: Enterprise) and the council chamber on Kaminar. They should probably expect the wall to see plenty more use throughout the season.

In Star Trek: Discovery Season Four, Captain Burnham and the crew of the USS Discovery face a threat unlike any they've ever encountered. With Federation and non-Federation worlds alike feeling the impact, they must confront the unknown and work together to ensure a hopeful future for all.

What do you think of Star Trek: Discovery's AR wall? Let us know in the comments section. New Star Trek: Discovery episode premiere weekly on Thursdays on Paramount+.