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Virtual Production: Supercharging Filmmaking


Virtual production melds the physical and digital, transforming filmmaking with real-time graphics and interactive shooting environments. This guide to virtual production goes into its revolutionary impact on storytelling and production efficiency.


In This Article:


 

Virtual Production: A Definitive Guide


At its core, Virtual Production is a process that replaces traditional sets and shooting locations with real-time rendered computer graphics displayed on large LED walls and green screens. These environments can be applied to the screens and be interacted with similarly to how they would function in a game, making real time changes and movements much more accessible.


This enables filmmakers to visualise complex scenes as they are captured, saving weeks in post production and reshoots. This is just one of the many benefits that come with this technology.


Virtual Sets: The New Frontier in Filmmaking


Virtual production introduces the capability to generate expansive and diverse virtual sets. These can replicate real-world locations that emit and reflect light naturally. They bring versatility and control to the scene, either by mimicking nature or introducing something completely new and unique. These sets are not only visually rich but also interactive; with motion tracking technology, they can respond to the movements of actors and cameras, enhancing the authenticity of the on-screen action.


Allegiant Airlines Advert: Virtus Studios


At Virtus Studios, we have recently utilised virtual production to facilitate the filming of six diverse sets for an Allegiant Airlines advertisement, all within an impressive two-day timeframe! This was possible due to the environments being accessible all in one place, even though they were from locations all over the country.


Vū, the studio where the commercial was shot, had its wall configured in a large horseshoe. This enabled production to shoot on one side of the stage, whilst set dressers were setting the next scene up with foreground props and tracking. When one scene had finished shooting, all they had to do was spin the cameras around, and a whole new world was there in front of them, ready to continue the shoot.


This process shows the rapid adaptability and efficiency of virtual sets, allowing for multiple location simulations for the shoot without the challenges of traditional set changes and travel limitations. Our innovative approach helped streamline the production process, leading to considerable time and resource savings while still ensuring a high-quality final product.




The Benefits of Virtual Production


Virtual production, a revolutionary technology in the film industry, offers several key advantages that are reshaping the way we create movies and TV shows. Some of which are:

  • Enhanced Creative Control: Virtual production allows for real-time visualisation and modification of scenes, providing directors with dynamic and responsive creative capabilities.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: By reducing the reliance on physical sets and location shoots, virtual production can significantly lower production costs.

  • Time Efficiency: The process streamlines production, enabling quicker scene changes and adjustments without the need for physical set alterations, saving valuable production time.

  • Environmental Impact: Virtual production minimises the ecological footprint by lessening the need for transportation and material usage for set construction.


Virtual vs. Traditional Production


In comparing virtual and traditional production methods, a clear distinction emerges in their approach to scene creation and execution. Virtual production, with its innovative use of real-time graphics and interactive sets, offers a more fluid and adaptable workflow. This contrasts with traditional methods, where set construction and post-production adjustments can be time-consuming and inflexible. Virtual production's ability to integrate live-action footage with CGI in real-time helps bridge the gaps in realism which adds a new level of interactivity in the filmmaking process, allowing for immediate feedback and alterations during the shoot.


Educational Spotlight: Reality Heist


Virtus Studios has played a part in the education of virtual production through Reality Heist,

a short film. This collaborative effort with the National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield marked a significant step in integrating virtual production into academic training.


Our involvement extended from consulting on the development of the film to hands-on training and mentoring of students. We led them through the complete virtual production pipeline, from previsualization to on-set facilitation. A key aspect of our educational approach was teaching students Unreal Engine from scratch. Over 14 weeks, under the guidance of our own Luke Anderton, students gained practical experience in creating a film using real-time LED wall workflows and state-of-the-art technology​​.


The Reality Heist project involved integrating multiple shots into a traditional pipeline using real-time technology and camera tracking. This approach provided students with a comprehensive learning experience and valuable insights into some modern filmmaking techniques. The project emphasised core features like real-time camera tracking, LED wall output, and the creation of fully CG shots.​


The demand for skills in virtual production is growing, leading educational institutions to integrate this technology into their curriculum. Aspiring filmmakers and technicians are now being taught virtual production, preparing them for a changing industry landscape where these skills are becoming increasingly essential.




Virtual Production Workflow:


The virtual production workflow offers a refined and efficient alternative to traditional film production, marked by its seamless integration of technology at each stage:

  1. Previsualization: Unlike traditional storyboarding, previs in virtual production uses simplified 3D modelling in a whiteboxing stage for planning, saving time in decision-making on set. This can be done by a small team of artists without the need of location scouting.

  2. Virtual Set Preparation: Setting up virtual environments is faster and more adaptable than constructing physical sets, and this is the stage where the majority of the Art and visuals are implemented.

  3. Performance Capture and Filming: Real-time capture and integration of performances with virtual elements reduce the need for extensive post-production by having the additions already displayed on the screen from in the environment.

  4. Post-Production: This stage is simplified as many visual elements are already polished during filming, cutting down on editing and special effects time.


Future Trends:


The future of virtual production is set to revolutionise the film industry. Its impact, highlighted in ground-breaking projects like The Mandalorian and our Allegiant Airlines advertisement, showcases its growing significance. As it becomes more commonly seen, we expect to see further advancements in efficiency, creativity, and environmental sustainability. At Virtus Studios, we are excited to be at the forefront of this evolving technology, leading the charge in exploring and utilising the full potential of virtual production.



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