While many details about how the The Lion King is being made are still under wraps, The Lion King’s VFX supervisor Rob Legato offered at NAB, “We are going to use a lot of virtual reality tools so it feels akin to what you are looking at if you were on a real set. You can walk around the set like a cameraman. Wearing VR headsets the actors can now walk into a scene and see the other actors and trees; and because you are in 3D, you get a realistic sense of the environment. That’s what we are incorporating in the next version of this.”
Legato has often said that production of The Jungle Book felt like a traditionally shot live-action movie, though it was filmed entirely on a bluescreen stage and only live-action element in the movie is Mowgli and whatever small piece of set Neel Sethi stood or climbed on, The rest is a photo-real CG jungle.
Legato asserted that the virtual production process used to make The Jungle Book is “so outdated” from what they are doing on The Lion King.
As the first clip of The Lion King — the opening sequence — was screened last summer exclusively for attendees at Disney’s D23 Expo, and the audience went absolutely wild. It featured jaw-dropping photo-real shots of African landscapes and many types of animals. It ended with the iconic moment in which Rafiki introduces young Simba on Pride Rock as “Circle of Life” plays.
in reply to the Hollywood Reporter’s question implying that the new Lion King should be considered as an animated movie Legato without hesitation said . “I don’t consider this an animated movie,” he said. “I consider this just a movie, and this happened to be the best way to make it. We made it comfortable for Jon Favreau to come in and be able to direct as if it was a live-action film.”
In the 90th Academy Awards rules, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines an animated film as “a motion picture in which movement and characters’ performances are created using a frame-by-frame technique, and usually falls into one of the two general fields of animation: narrative or abstract. Some of the techniques for animating films include but are not limited to hand-drawn animation, computer animation, stop-motion, clay animation, pixilation, cutout animation, pinscreen, camera multiple pass imagery, kaleidoscopic effects created frame-by-frame and drawing on the film frame itself. Motion capture and real-time puppetry are not by themselves animation techniques.”