The Volume was instrumental in bringing The Mandalorian to life on the small screen, let’s see how Disney use the tech in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Thor: Love and Thunder will be the first project from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to utilize a Volume stage in its production. The Volume is a visual effects tool pioneered by Industrial Light & Magic and first used to mainstream success in Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian. It’s exciting to see the effect The Volume has had on the production of Thor: Love and Thunder and how the use of this technology could mean great things for the MCU going forward.
The way The Volume works is simple in principle. It’s a stage where the backdrop is made up of a giant, extremely high-resolution LED screen. The filmmakers then project onto that screen whatever VFX-heavy backdrop is needed, and the actors perform the scene in front of the screen. For fans of classic Hollywood and 20th-century filmmaking, it’s reminiscent of rear-screen projection, the technology that was used prior to the advent of blue/green screen.
If anything, the introduction of the Volume has allowed the industry to circle back to more traditional methods of filmmaking, just on a more technologically advanced level. It’s immediately a great asset for actors in big blockbuster filmmaking, a helpful move away from the blank green screen sets that have become the norm. Furthermore, there are numerous elements to the Volume that streamline the production process supremely well. The screens are synced to the camera, which means as the camera’s perspective shifts, so too does the screen. And it means that filmmakers are moving back to a form of visual effects that is primarily focused on capturing as much in camera as possible, as opposed to adjusting and fixing things in post.
On a similar note, this should shift the whole production process for blockbusters to a more balanced level in the long run. It’s no secret that in recent years that big blockbusters, especially superhero movies, have increasingly relied on CGI and post-production VFX. The Volume shifts the balance back so more of the traditionally post-production work will go to pre-production.
This is an important shift, especially for the MCU. Recently, the Marvel blockbusters have increasingly relied on post-production CGI to hold their projects together. Even going as far as to create entire costumes through CGI, such as the time-travel suits in Avengers: Endgame. It’s incredible work and completely flawless, but one cannot escape the fact that this takes away work from costume and make-up departments. These institutions of film should not have their work taken away just because it can be rendered just as well through a computer.
It’s an exciting for blockbuster filmmaking, and it feels like the industry is moving into a space where all styles and disciplines of filmmaking are being accepted. It’s much nicer than one specific style ruling over the industry — audiences can live in a world where they feel the power of real jets in Top Gun: Maverick. And now, thanks to The Volume, they get transported to a fantasy world like never before. Disney has shown the world what it can do with The Volume on the small screen, now it’s time to flex and put it to its potential in the cinema. The Volume should make Thor: Love and Thunder pretty special.
To see The Volume in action, Thor: Love and Thunder is set to hit theaters on July 8.
A graduate who has recently completed an English and Creative Writing degree – and a lover of all things nerdy. Has written for publications such as New Welsh Review, and Aberystwyth Student Media; having regularly covered film & TV for the latter. Also enjoys acting and performance in their spare time. They/He