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The Lion King: To remake the movie, Disney made a VR game

In this exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from the Disney Blu-ray, see how Jon Favreau and Co. used virtual reality to step into the African landscape.


This summer Disney used cutting-edge CGI to reboot animated classic The Lion King. But before it made the new movie, it made a video game -- a virtual reality game in which director Jon Favreau and his crew could take real cameras into a virtual African world.

The 2019 Lion King will be available on digital Oct. 11, coming to 4K and Blu-ray on Oct. 22. It's packed with bonus features including various featurettes on the making of the movie.

In this exclusive behind-the-scenes clip, you can see how Favreau and Co. used VR to plan and shoot the reboot. They wanted to use real camera equipment to walk around and film, just like a live action movie. So they made a "game" -- a virtual reality environment where you could do just that simply by donning a VR headset.

"Instead of cars and guns and points being scored, we've got cameras and lights and lions," producer Jeffrey Silver explains.

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For previous Disney reboot The Jungle Book, the crew built rudimentary sets so the camera team could film the movie's human star, Mowgli, and used bluescreen to add the digital background afterwards. There aren't any humans in The Lion King, so there was no need for even the most basic physical sets. Instead, the crew worked in a blank room dubbed "The Volume." When they donned VR headsets or watching screens, they felt as if they were in the animated world. They could even fly drone cameras round the room as if they were swooping over the savanna.

As movies rely more and more on computer-generated sets, VR offers a great way for filmmakers to treat the digital environments like real sets. When Steven Spielberg made Ready Player One, for example, he wore a VR helmet to walk around the virtual environment and look for interesting camera angles.