Everyone has been jumping onto the “virtual production” train this year, maybe because it’s the type of technology that can greatly speed up production and save costs by combining real-time visual FX into the actual shoot, rather than the traditional process of shooting everything on green screen and then sending footage to visual FX houses to work on their craft for months.
Australia’s Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) is the latest VFX house that has embraced the technology. Earlier this week, the studio took part in a proof-of-concept demonstration at the South Australia Film Commission‘s Adelaide Studios to showcase the latest in leading-edge virtual production technology. Like we’ve been seeing in the States with reality television and in Canada with a number of virtual production stages being built, this seems to be the way of the future for production.
Rising Sun worked with live event specialist Novatech and software resellers Intraware, for the demonstration to show how actors can be placed in believable 3D digital environments using real-time VFX and to show everyone how virtual production can be used to enhance Australian production.
For the demo, the shoot had an actor performing in front of a state-of-the-art LED screen that created a 3D scene that could be captured with integrated camera moves and lighting. The demonstration was done for local filmmakers, VFX vendors, and educational facilities, with Hon David Pisoni MP, the country’s Minister for Innovation and Skills, also on-hand.
A little more information for those only learning about virtual production right now:
‘Virtual Production’ is an umbrella term for a wide range of techniques and processes, and is the convergence between pre-production, filming and post-production. The LED ‘Virtual Set’ technique has been used on several recent high-profile film and television productions, and has generated broad interest during the pandemic due to its potential to eliminate travel, reduce crew size and save time.
RSP supplied real-time content for the visual set in Epic‘s Unreal Engine while Novatech provided the Virtual Production hardware, including a purpose-built 12m x 3.6m, curved LED-wall and interactive set lighting. Disguise servers and Mo-Sys camera tracking software was provided by Intraware, while SA Film provided the studio space at Adelaide Studios.
RSP Producer Ian Cope said about the demo, “It is exciting to introduce the local film community to emerging technologies that are generating interest among film, television and game producers worldwide. It was also a good learning experience for our artists and an opportunity for them to gain familiarity with this new tech.” The work was turned around in a week with a small, agile team. RSP’s Noah Vice served as Virtual Production Supervisor on the project; Art Director Nick Pill provided key concept direction for the team preparing the digital backgrounds.”
Cope also stressed how in the time of social distancing protocols, virtual production can offer a safe alternative to transporting actors and crew to exotic locations, as well as allows filmmakers to accomplish more difficult shots while in the production stage of filming. “In some situations, it makes sense to use virtual production. Traditional post processes can be brought forward to the shoot, allowing greater collaboration with the filmmakers and the ability to capture more in-camera. Of course, it’s not the right solution for every situation, and as when planning visual effects for any project; if you need to shoot an actor in front of a brick wall, it’s best to use a real one!”
RSP will now be offering virtual production as a complement to its other visual effects services, Cope added. “It’s a wonderful additional resource and our clients are taking this path more often. We take a very pragmatic approach to our projects and assess each situation that arises on its merits. We choose solutions that work best for the time and budget, and provide the best way to tell the story for our clients.”
You can actually watch the full demo below and learn more about Rising Sun Pictures at RSP.com.au:
Photo Credits: David Solm & Ian Cope