Planes, cranes and automobiles

Using generative AI to compare the carbon impacts of location shooting and on-set virtual production

For those of you who are interested in how shooting on an LED stage saves the planet compared to going out on location, Morden Wolf’s Rob Chandler, pictured below, was a panelist at an event in Lille last week called Series Mania. The topic of Rob’s session was the relative cost, to the planet and our wallets, of the two. Afterwards, he completed an interesting exercise, using generative AI. Rob’s WhatsApp message to the Starting Pixel group showing what ChatGPT made of his question is reproduced in its entirety below. The words are ChatGPT’s …

The total CO2 emissions for 20 return flights, each covering 3,000 miles on a commercial carrier, are estimated to be 21,600 kg.

Comparing this to the daily CO2 emissions of operating the LED wall (124.7 kg per day), the flights generate significantly more CO2. Specifically, the CO2 emissions from the flights are equivalent to about 173 days of operating the LED wall under the conditions specified.

The calculations in detail
  1. The LED wall is 20 meters wide by 5 meters high, giving it a total area of 100 square meters.
  2. The LEDs used are from the Sony Crystal LED Verona series.
  3. The LED wall is used for an average of 10 hours per day.
  4. ⁠The power rating is 580 watts per square meter.
  5. The location is Central London, but the specific CO2 intensity of the local grid wasn’t provided. For this calculation, I’ll use an approximate average CO2 intensity for the UK. As of my last update, the UK’s grid intensity was around 215 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour, but this can vary significantly throughout the day and year.
ChatGPT calculated the daily power usage and CO2 emissions for operating this LED wall
  1. the total power consumption in kilowatts.
  2. the total energy consumption per day in kilowatt-hours (kWh).
  3. the CO2 emissions based on the energy consumption and the average CO2 intensity of the UK’s electricity grid.
For the LED wall with the specified dimensions and power rating, operating for 10 hours per day in Central London
  • the total power consumption is 58 kW.
  • the total energy consumption per day is 580 kWh.
  • the estimated CO2 emissions associated with this energy consumption are 124.7 kg per day, based on an approximate CO2 intensity for the UK’s electricity grid.

These figures provide an overview of the power usage and environmental impact of operating the LED wall under the given conditions.

To compare the CO2 emissions of the LED wall with those from 20 return (round-trip) flights, each covering 3,000 miles, we need to calculate the emissions from the flights.

The CO2 emissions per passenger for air travel can vary significantly based on the type of aircraft, its fuel efficiency, and the occupancy rate. As a general estimate, a typical value for CO2 emissions for air travel is about 90 kg of CO2 per hour flown per passenger, considering an average commercial flight. However, this value can fluctuate, so I’ll use this as a rough estimate.

ChatGPT then said, let’s calculate the CO2 emissions for the flights. We’ll assume:
  • an average flight speed of about 500 miles per hour (which is typical for commercial jetliners), to estimate the duration of a 3,000-mile flight.
  • each flight is a round trip, so the total miles flown per trip are doubled
  • the emissions factor is 90 kg of CO2 per flying hour per passenger

Rob’s thoughts on the findings …

One person can fly (return) approximately 346.4 miles to achieve the same CO2 emissions as the daily operation of the LED wall mentioned earlier. This calculation uses the same assumptions regarding average flight speed and CO2 emissions rate per passenger per hour of flight.

If you are interested in seeing how others responded to what Rob did here and the online chat that developed, you might like to join the Starting Pixel WhatsApp group.

If you would like to use generative AI to perform similar exercises, Mondatum can help. For advice, guidance and support, contact Colin Birch ( or John Rowe (