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Introduction

In the ever-evolving world of filmmaking and video production, virtual production cvreativity has emerged as a game-changing technology. It offers filmmakers and content creators unprecedented flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and creative possibilities.

In this article, we delve into the experiences of Jonathan Wolff, Natascha Farmer, and the team at Camberwell Studios (Andy, Jack, Tom, Sian, Pete, Lee and D) as they embarked on creating a promotional video using virtual production techniques. Their journey revealed the immense potential of this medium while uncovering valuable insights and lessons along the way.

Virtual Production on the Monitor

Lead 3D creative with Director assessing options.

Harnessing the Power of Virtual Production Creativity:

For a long time, Camberwell Studios had recognised the potential of greenscreen virtual production to deliver impressive results at what should be an affordable price. Using virtual production allowed for enhanced flexibility and reduced time constraints compared to traditional production methods. The ability to easily film different locations in the same studio on the same day and then hand over the footage at the end of the filming made sense.

Preparation and Planning:

Jonathan and Natascha started with a brief that said to showcase virtual production creativity with at least five different scenarios where we would use as many of the virtual production techniques in as many different scenes as it made sense to use. They were given creative control. It had to look excellent.

Early on, decisions were made to use the Vive Mars camera tracking system, the Blackmagic Studio Pro Camera and Aximmetry for its streamlined workflow and camera integration underpinned by Unreal Engine.  The objective was to streamline the workflow and optimise the production process.

We wrote the first script and then, for fun, we ran it through ChatGPT, which came back with some improvements. This was an ‘aha’ moment for sure. We used this script as the basis for creating the first previz video.

Technical Expertise and Artistic Vision:

Jonathan and Natascha’s collaboration was the perfect blend of technical expertise and artistic sensibilities. Jonathan, as the director, possessed a deep understanding of virtual production and made on-set adjustments to ensure the creative vision was realised. Natascha’s role as 3D creative, combined with technical knowledge and proficiency with Unreal Engine, made her an ideal technician, allowing for the smooth implementation of assets and efficient optimisation.

The Power of Pre-visualisation:

A comprehensive pre-visualisation process played a vital role in the team’s workflow. It allowed everyone involved to understand and align with the creative vision, fostering effective communication and collaboration.

The pre-viz also provided the opportunity to explore alternative approaches and make necessary adjustments before the actual shoot, saving time and minimising surprises.

This process led to a second pre-viz video that was signed off for production. This provided the studios, the DOP, and everyone else involved the information they needed to get the studios ready for filming – see here https://youtu.be/AA4ZNx0mWKM

Investing in Powerful Hardware:

To ensure optimal performance and avoid system stress, the team recognised the need for powerful hardware. They upgraded their processing power, investing in a new computer with the NVIDIA RTX 4090 graphics card. This resolved the processing issues and enabled them to handle dense scenes and maintain desired frame rates. Unreal Engine, the chosen platform for virtual production, also contributed to maintaining optimal performance.

Challenges and Solutions:

While virtual production offered immense benefits, it was not without its challenges. Scenes with animation and dense photogrammetry assets proved to be the most demanding in terms of system stress. However, by optimising assets and managing the workload efficiently, the team successfully achieved high-quality results. They also discovered the practicality of virtual camera moves in certain situations and the importance of testing and pre-planning to identify and resolve potential issues.

Collaboration and Expertise:

The collaboration between the team members at Camberwell Studios was seamless, with each member contributing their specialised knowledge and understanding of the project’s visual aesthetic. The director, Jonathan, worked closely with Natascha from the beginning and facilitated a relaxed environment for talent on set. The collective expertise of the team played a crucial role in realising the project’s objectives.

Lessons and Future Improvements:

Throughout their virtual production journey, Jonathan, Natascha, and the team learned valuable lessons. They emphasised the importance of pre-planning and testing, which led to better outcomes and opportunities for creativity. They also highlighted the benefits of having a digital representation of the scene, including the lighting plan, for improved understanding and collaboration. Furthermore, they identified the potential for exploring additional resources, such as RGB lights and alternative lighting systems, to enhance virtual scenes.

Conclusion:

The Camberwell Studios team’s experience in creating a showreel using virtual production techniques has shed light on the immense potential of this medium. The lessons learned, ranging from technical optimisations to effective collaboration, provide valuable insights for future projects. As virtual production continues to evolve and gain prominence in the filmmaking industry, it promises to unlock boundless possibilities, empowering filmmakers and content creators to bring their visions to life in innovative and cost-effective ways.

Virtual Production Creativity – Top Tips

If you are considering using virtual production for your next film or television project, here are a few tips:

  • Get familiar with the software. Many different software programs can be used for virtual production. It is important to choose a program that is right for your project and that you are comfortable using.
  • Start planning early. Virtual production can be time-consuming, so it is important to start planning early. This will give you time to create the virtual set and to test it out before you start filming.
  • Work with a team of experts. Virtual production requires a team of experts with different skill sets. This includes filmmakers, artists, and technicians.
  • Be creative. Virtual production allows you to be more creative with your filmmaking. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things.
  • Virtual production is a powerful tool that can be used to create realistic and immersive environments. If you are looking for a way to save time and money, or if you want to be more creative with your filmmaking, then virtual production is a great option.

Our objective is to free up our clients to use virtual production. You bring ideas and creativity, and we’ll work with you to realise them, using virtual production. At the end of the filming, you take away your files for your normal post-production process.

Read more about our package of Virtual Production Filming Services here.

Jonathan Woolf – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathan-wolff-7a7a9b82/

Natascha Farmer – https://www.nataschafarmer.co.uk/

Call us on 020 7725 5858

Email us on studios@camberwellstudios.co.uk

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