How to Make the Most out of Virtual Production

Tim Doubleday, Vicon VFX Product Manager

Turning vision into reality with Virtual Production

COVID-19 has certainly been a catalyst for change in the way businesses operate, driving organizations to innovate and simplify existing processes through the use of technology.

This also rings true for the VFX industry, and over the past year, production companies have significantly ramped up the use of more innovative techniques like Virtual Production in order to streamline the overall production process.

While Virtual Production isn’t necessarily new, this filming technique has rapidly developed and modern capabilities like camera tracking for in-camera VFX (ICVFX) means directors can turn their vision into reality like never before.

As directors and creatives start to realize the benefits of such techniques, the adoption of Virtual Production is set to massively increase over the next few years.

The benefits of Virtual Production

In its simplest form, Virtual Production encompasses a number of different techniques including VR Scouting, previz, performance capture and Simulcam.

These combine the physical and digital worlds by utilizing cutting edge game engines, giving actors, directors and other creatives the ability to view their projects live on set via LED walls so they can react and iterate in real-time, rather than having to wait until post-production. Bringing together Vicon’s tracking of both rigid object and full body subjects, the virtual production pipeline allows users to track film and video cameras alongside highly realistic digital characters, with high-fidelity finger tracking and facial capture, which can all be streamed directly into the game engine to deliver data at the lowest latency possible.

Virtual Production also offers several logistical benefits. For example, the traditional location scouting process required crew to travel to different locations around the world to find the ideal set. But through VR Scouting, in combination with Vicon’s ability to track multiple VR headsets, this can all be done virtually through the game engine — meaning environments can be created beforehand without the need to travel to scout locations.

By focusing on pre-production and previz, the creative team can work remotely but collaboratively to ensure they are as prepared as possible before anyone gets on set.

Once on set, the ability to view scenes in real-time allows the production team to feel confident that they have captured the right shots. And if they need to quickly change the lighting in a scene or move pieces of the set around in order to achieve the right look Virtual Production enables them to do that on-the-fly.

Delivering high-end content to streaming services

The rise of streaming services including Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ & Apple TV has resulted in a massive increase in demand for content. Virtual Production has helped to bridge the gap and has enabled newer television companies to make use of the technologies that have traditionally been limited to the larger studios who create high-end feature films.

Advertising and TV broadcasters are also utilizing these techniques which allow enable rapid development of ideas to be turned into high-end content quickly and affordably.

Reaping the benefits of Virtual Production through motion capture

In order to unleash a new wave of creativity and reap the full benefits of Virtual Production, we need to continue to develop the fundamental technology that underpins Virtual Production. And one of the key components is motion capture.

Our unmatched, production-proven motion tracking is enabling some of world’s most ground-breaking VFX and animation companies to redefine our imagination and can be used across multiple areas of virtual production, including VR scouting, previz, performance capture and in-camera VFX.

Learn more about our Virtual Production technology in action and how we have helped the world’s leading VFX and animation studio, ILM to successfully create one of the most challenging and ambitious projects ever – The Mandalorian.