If you've every tried keying out a person you know the NLEs have improved a lot over the years. After Effects can even give you a workable cut-out without a green screen now. But what are the professional movie making folk changing to now? What's next?
You're inside a circular space filled with curved screens. The cameras are set up and everything is captured in-camera and it's not needed to key something out and fix a badly lit green screen frame by frame.
What Are the Other Benefits?
The benefits of this is that I think the actors can put themselves in the space easier. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to envision a certain era if you're only surrounded by green screens. I do think an actor feeds off their co-actors, but also the space they're in. A green screen surely affects that, and therefore I think it also affects the quality of the acting.
Another bonus is the fact that you don't get the screen's reflection, and any metal reflections from the monitors that are playing back the background footage of the actors, so it looks more real. Depth of field is another one. The background footage won't be as sharp as footage inserted after the fact in post. Sure, footage added in post can be blurred, but just like in photography, getting it right in-camera is just so much better and more of a skill, while it also saves a ton of time you would've spent behind a computer.
I also think it can lower costs. If I don't need the post-production team, or even a smaller one, it will save on some expenses.
They have also said that it cuts the post FX budget because the screens give a more accurate interpretation of the highlights and shadows that the post FX need to add.
Incredible! So cool!
I would not say that it replaces the green screen. I'd rather say it is an additional tool in the film makers arsenal when the situation allows for it.
The main problem is that the initial costs for the whole rig and the maintenance crew (especially the crew bar) is much higher than "just" putting up a greenscreen (which can be also quite cumbersome on big sets).
Also every creative decision has to be made BEFORE the shoot and cannot be altered afterwards (extensively) like in classic postproduction. That can be a good thing for the creatives. Or a "bad" thing. That depends if you are the director or the producer.
I guess for The Mandalorian" it was an excellent choice because there was a sound budget available and they had so much stuff to shoot that it made fiscal and creative sense.
But there are other shows where all the parameters to install "The Volume" might be too expensive.
It probably easily adds options that wouldn't be available otherwise for post too. Since they have the exact camera tracking data, and scene geometry, as well as the rendered projected background in Unreal, they can probably pretty easily subtract from the final image as well as edit it after the fact, as long as the new background wouldn't produce dramatically different light. I can see some crazy new techniques coming from "The Volume"
I wonder how they clean after a shot with so much sand and dirt being practically used. I would think its a difficult task. Worth it of course but I'd think its another big cost. Imagine cleaning the ceiling after several shots! Geez!
This is epic!