VFX Voice – Virtual Production Articles
Enjoy this selection of Virtual Production articles from VES’ VFX Voice Magazine – the award-winning definitive authority on all things visual effects in the world of film, TV, gaming, virtual reality, commercials, theme parks, and other new media.
HOW VFX STUDIOS ARE ADOPTING VIRTUAL PRODUCTION INTO THEIR WORKFLOWS
In the past few years, a number of technological developments – improvements in real-time rendering and game engines and high-fidelity LED wall tech, in particular, and the need for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic – have seemed to kickstart visual effects studios into a ‘virtual production’ whirlwind.
ADVENTURES IN INDIE VIRTUAL PRODUCTION
Around the world, excitement continues to brew at the filmmaking-related possibilities offered up by virtual production and realtime rendering. This includes independent filmmakers, whose projects might be on a much smaller scale than high-profile virtual production shows such as The Mandalorian and The Lion King.
VIRTUAL PRODUCTION TAKES A BIG STEP FORWARD
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.
MATT WORKMAN: SHARING HIS VIRTUAL PRODUCTION JOURNEY AS IT’S HAPPENING
There’s no doubt that virtual production, and the associated area of real-time, is the hot topic in filmmaking and visual effects right now. Since virtual production is a relatively new area of VFX, information, training and advice on the latest techniques have not always been easy to find for those eager to learn.
NEW TECH IN VFX: FALL EDITION
Keeping up with the latest in visual effects tools can be daunting. These past few years have seen major innovations in technology solutions for VFX artists and, as VFX Voice found out, there are many to come. Here’s a roundup of new or recently-launched products that you might already be using, or that you may soon find part of your visual effects production workflow.
NEW VIRTUAL TECHNOLOGIES REMAKE VFX’S FUTURE PIPELINE
Visual Effects Supervisor Sam Nicholson, ASC, who founded and heads Stargate Studios, remembers the pre-digital processes for visual effects. “I started on Star Trek,” he says. “It was all in-camera effects, shooting film and composting with optical printing.”
DYNAMIC DUOS: DP AND VFX – CALEB DESCHANEL AND ROB LEGATO
On a traditional effects-driven film, a cinematographer and a visual effects supervisor might tend to collaborate predominantly on set on individual visual effects shots, and rarely into post-production. This was the reverse on Jon Favreau’s The Lion King, a photorealistic, computer-generated re-imagining of the classic 2D-animated Disney feature, where Director of Photography Caleb Deschanel, ASC and Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Legato, ASC worked together on every single shot of the film.
WORKING REMOTELY: HOME RULES FOR THE VFX INDUSTRY
Working remotely is part of the regular routine for the visual effects industry; however, with the global lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the sheer number of individuals requiring offsite access has been unprecedented. Initially, impeding the remote solution were studio concerns about security, which led to an online petition from 10,000 visual effects artists to the Motion Picture Association of America and the Visual Effects Society releasing a statement in support of allowing artists to work remotely.
INSTANT FEEDBACK: EXPOZURE EXPANDS ITS VIRTUAL TOOLSET
In late 2018, virtual production company Digital Monarch Media (DMM) was acquired by game engine maker Unity Technologies. It was a suitable fit, since DMM had been utilizing Unity in its virtual production offerings, while Unity had also been continuing to develop a suite of more accessible filmmaker tools.
VES HANDBOOK: VIRTUAL PRODUCTION
Merging CG into a live-action shoot allows the director and crew to evaluate composition, lighting, timing, and more, before the final plate is captured. Bringing CG elements into the real world requires a great deal of planning. Avatar (2009) was the first film to use a system that allowed the crew to see a live composite of the CG elements through the eyepiece of the camera and on set monitors.
THE REALITY OF VIRTUAL FILMMAKING
It’s easy to think about a film being made by a crew with actors, a set, some lights and a camera. Indeed, many films are still made this way. But as films continue to be imbued with more complex action, and invariably more complex visual effects, filmmakers are turning to new production techniques to imagine these scenes virtually even before they’ve been shot, and then to scout sets, interact live with CG assets and characters, and to shoot, revise and iterate virtual scenes on the fly.