VFX Voice, by IAN FAILES, 2023 April
“Today, virtual production encapsulates so many areas – visualization, real-time rendering, LED wall shoots, simulcams, motion capture, volumetric capture and more. With heavy advances made in processing power for real-time workflows, virtual production tools have exploded as filmmaking and storytelling aids.
The idea, of course, is to give filmmakers and storytellers more flexible ways to both imagine and then tell their stories, and in that way virtual production has no doubt improved creative outcomes.
Via on-the-ground stories told by visual effects, virtual production and virtualization supervisors, we look at examples of where virtual production has provided new options and practical solutions to storytellers and how it has made a clear difference on real productions.
VISUALIZATION IS STORYTELLING
Studios specializing in previs (now more commonly referred to as visualization) have always helped filmmakers shape stories. In the past few years, those same studios have also spearheaded a number of virtual production innovations. Proof Inc., for example, recently added real-time motion capture during its virtual camera (VCAM) sessions. “We can now direct performance and cinematography at the same time,” notes Proof Creative Technology Supervisor Steven Hughes. “The data captured during a VCAM session is quickly passed to the shot creators, who know that the staging and composition are already in line with the director’s vision.”
On Amsterdam, Proof’s ‘viz’ work was directly used by the filmmakers for a period New York sequence. It started with a virtual production set build of 1930s New York and then blocking of animation in Maya before moving into Unreal Engine 4. “Then we were ready for our virtual camera scout with Cinematographer Emmanuel ‘Chivo’ Lubezki and VFX Supervisor Allen Maris,” details Proof Previs Supervisor George Antzoulides. “The filmmakers were able to use our virtual sandbox to plan out complex shots and camera movements before filming ever began.”
“With a scene that required visual effects work in nearly every shot, with Proof’s help, we were able to create a master scene file and then using the VCAM, go in and block out the camera moves with Chivo,” says Maris. “This allowed us to figure out the bluescreen details on the main unit set and then to plan the specific plate needs in New York.” Continue reading