Published on April 23rd, 2013 | by Andrew Krasniak
Front Projection Scenery in Oblivion
In the video below Director Joseph Kosinski describes how they used front-projection rather than blue screens to create the immersive world of Oblivion, particularly the scenery surrounding the “skytower,” a residential military installation built amongst the clouds 3,000 feet above the ground. In order to create a 360º panorama of sky and clouds, Kosinski and his design team built the skytower set on a sound stage surrounded by 500 feet of projection screens. Visual effects supervisor Bjorn Mayer then spent four days atop a Hawaiian mountain capturing footage of clouds from above using three modified EPIC cameras, each capturing at 5K. The footage was then stitched together to make one seamless image of sky and clouds from nearly a mile above the ground.
Back at the soundstage, twenty-one projectors played five-minute loops of the cloud footage on 500 feet of screen at 15K resolution. This created a background that was visible to the cast and crew, allowing the performers to become more immersed in the story world than they would have if they were filming in front of a blue screen.
The projected scenery also provided ambient light consistent with the weather and time of day; a blue screen’s reflections on the glass surfaces of the skytower would have been extremely difficult to eliminate in post production. “If we had done this bluescreen we probably would still have been trying to key it!” says Mayer.