… for Visual Effects

Tip #1420: Virtual Production Takes Big Step Forward

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Game design intersects with production using LED monitor walls.

Baby Yoda, surrounded by an LED wall, with images created with Unreal Engine. Image courtesy of Disney.

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This article, written by Trevor Hogg, first appeared in VFXVoice.com. This is a summary.

Traditionally, movies and television shows have been divided into three stages consisting of pre-production, production and post-production; however, the lines are blurring with the advancements in virtual production. A great deal of interest was generated with what Jon Favreau was able to achieve utilizing the technology to produce The Mandalorian. Interest turned into necessity when the coronavirus pandemic restricted the ability to shoot global locations. If you cannot go out into the world then the next best thing is to create a photorealistic, computer-generated environment that can be adjusted in real-time. Will virtual production be a game-changer that will have lasting impact?

Scott Schambliss, Production Designer:

“One of the best qualities of our medium is its essential plasticity. By replacing traditional bluescreen/greenscreen tech with LED display walls, a stage working environment is dramatically enhanced by its chief gifts of interactive practical lighting and directly representative motion picture backgrounds the screens display in-camera for shooting purposes. For sci-fi and fantasy projects these advances are major and practical additions.”

Scott Meadows, Digital Domain:

“We recently had a client in the middle of reshoots when COVID hit. We had several props and CG characters, and our team put together some blocking animation that we added to Unreal Engine. Within a day, we had everything we needed for the filmmakers to do whatever they wanted within the scene. For the actual shoot there were only seven people present, with the director, editor, VFX Supervisor and Animation Supervisor all calling in remotely.”

Sam Nicolson, Stargate Studios:

“Virtual production is the new Wild West of the film business where the world of game developers and film producers are merging. From photoreal avatars to flawless virtual sets and extensive Unreal worlds, the global production community has embraced the amazing potential of virtual production as a solution to many of the production challenges facing us during the current global pandemic.”

The article also interviews:

  • Adam Myhill, Unity Technologies
  • Paul Cameron, Westworld
  • Alex McDowell, Experimental Design
  • David Morin, Epic Games Los Angeles Lab
  • Christopher Nicols, Chaos Group Labs
  • Nic Hatch, Ncam
  • Ben Grossman, Magnopus
  • Rachel Rose, ILM

There are images and much longer quotes in the article.


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