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Virtual Production Filming Services

Greenscreen Virtual Production Approach

Our Virtual Production Filming Service Package includes:

Greenscreen Studio Space

Set up for Virtual Production. Lighting in place.

3D Skillsets

Pre-visualisation to on-set digital asset management.

Tech and processing power

Camera tracking, PC processing, cables, and monitors.

Workflow

A proven process for managing virtual productions.

Experience

The filming know-how to combine the real with the virtual.

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The client walks away from the shoot with their footage ‘in the can’ and ready to edit. This is as close to a ‘filming-as-normal’ approach as possible. The benefits include some or all the following:

SPEED

Let’s say, the idea is set inside a Caribbean cocktail beach bar.  All the pre-production takes place online. There is no need for location visits. We don’t have to wait for the right time of year. If there is availability in the studio, we can film. When we’ve finished filming, you can start editing.

Production value

It looks exactly like that Caribbean bar – locations and ideas can be developed, tested and amended until the client signoff in the form of a pre-visualisation video. The same process produces shot lists ready for filming. There are no surprises.

Cost

When the Caribbean bar is in Camberwell (20 mins from central London) that’s a lot of obvious, environmentally unsound costs to be saved. The calm reliability of a studio shoot should not be underestimated. In our showreel video, we filmed six locations in two days,

Flexibility & Creativity

From dawn to dusk and back again, whatever you want – we can film any time of day at any time of day. Better than that, although we give you video files ready for editing and a more detailed level of post-production.

Virtual Production Filming Services Explained

Our job is to turn client ideas into a production that can be filmed at our studios.

We offer an end-to-end virtual production filming service that starts with the client’s creative idea to be delivered in the virtual world.

We specifically provide:

  • Virtual Production Technology, Designers and Consultancy
  • Greenscreen studios set up for virtual production
  • Experienced film crew, the DOP and their immediate team
  • Film equipment (camera, grip and lights)

These elements are crucial and must be right on the day. They form the basis of our virtual production workflow and have been stress-tested each step of the way.

The client provides the director, the production team, Hair and Make up, etc, as you would expect. 

At the end of filming, the client walks away with their footage ready for editing. It really is filming as normal.

Virtual Production Workflow Overview

The virtual production capability of our service is based on Unreal Engine (UE) software. UE are not the only supplier, but they are the best known and best used for good reason.

What Unreal Engine has done is consolidate an ecosystem of suppliers at all stages throughout the supply chain. There are options every step of the way:

  • Digital environments – exclusive bespoke 3d design or kit bashing digital marketplace assets and using photogrammetry assets.
  • We have been Greenscreen Studios for the past nearly 15 years. LED volumes are also used for Virtual Production and both techniques can be supplemented by Projectors.
  • We chose Aximmetry for virtual studio software, but we could have chosen Zero Density or Disguise or Brainstorm or Unreal Engine.
  • For camera tracking, we used the Vive Mars system – it offered everything we need. There are others such as Mosys, Anti-Latency Stype, and Ncam.
  • Integration of animation and physics simulations using ground-breaking software such as Houdini, Marvellous Designer and Iclone.
  • Live-streaming sophisticated presentations using tablet-controlled interfaces.
  • Face-tracking and motion-capture for using digital avatars in real-time.
  • Cross-integration of mixed rehttps://aximmetry.com/productsality such as augmented and virtual reality.

There is not one integrated end-to-end solution. Instead, there are many different workflow-based solutions always underpinned by the operator’s skillset and experience.

Unreal Engine is cost-effective in how owners Epic Games makes it freely available, but using it professionally requires hundreds of hours of learning. Our 3D designers have been through that pain.

Here is an overview of the workflow we used on this project

Pre-visualisation

The starting point is always a conversation about what you want to achieve and how virtual production can play a role. Our 3D team works directly with the creative team to turn the vision into reality. The endpoint is a previsualization of what your video will look like, as seen in this example made for our showreel video. The ‘previz’ replaces the storyboard.

Pre-visualisation video
The beach scene

Filming

We film against greenscreen. The previz tells the studio what is needed on the day, including crewing, camera and lenses, lighting, real-world props, the shot list, the filming kit and the technical kit required.

You will often read about LED volumes when you read about Virtual Production. They are always associated with big-budget film, tv and broadcast productions. They are an excellent but undeniably expensive solution. It’s not just the cost of the LED volume but also the people and processing power required to keep the show on the road. Also LED volumes may simply not actually be the best way of using VP for many projects.

Greenscreen is an inherently lower cost solution, and underpins our solution. We’ve been greenscreen studios for the past 15 years.

Unreal Engine and 3D Design

Creating 3d environments that look photo-realistic is often at the heart of virtual production. Unreal Engine (UE) is one of the leading free software platforms available. It’s not the only one, but it is the most well-known for creating filmic, realistic worlds. The newly launched UE5 software upgrade was a step-change that opened the doors to greater realism and real-time manipulation of these environments.

virtual production vive mars camera tracking
After calibration

Camera Tracking

The task here is to accurately track filmed subjects in the greenscreen space so that they align perfectly and create a ‘parallax’ with the virtual space they will appear in. It is amazing how the human eye will notice the slightest glitch. We are using the Vive Mars CamTrack launched in 2022, which has a strong user base and forums for support.

Processing

The camera tracking information is fed in real-time into the computer, where it synchronises to the 3D space where the action is taking place. The combined images create the final pixel-perfect image. Our PCs use the latest Nvidia 4090 graphics card, the newest Intel processor and lots of memory to keep up with the heavy-duty computational operations (aka the graphics). We used Aximmetry for the Virtual Studio software.

‘Control Central’

Camera and Lenses

A suitable camera for virtual production requires the right resolution and lenses for the job, as well as being ‘Genlock friendly’ enhancing stability for the tracking system. Lens choice is an important consideration. We have been using hi-speed zoom lenses reducing the need to constantly change prime lenses and saving on studio-time.

Lighting

It probably goes without saying about how important lighting is when matching the real world with the virtual world. We used combinations of LED and tungsten lighting – kit we already had in-house, plus some hired-in lights. We considered app-controlled RGB lights in place. It wasn’t necessary but next time we will.

london film studios video cover image

More resources about greenscreen virtual production

Why use Virtual Production  – this article looks at Virtual Production from the producer’s point of view. It provides an overview of where and how virtual production can work for you. Read more here.

The Creative Journey – Our lead creatives, Jonatha Wolff and Natascha Farmer discuss what they experienced and learned as they got to grips with the software and grappled with the tech and kit. Read more here.

Virtual Production from the DOP’s perspective – Pete Ford, Director of Photography describes how he approached this virtual production from the point of receiving the pre-viz video. He describes what was the same, what was different and what he learned. Read more here

Please check back as we have more articles in development.

It starts with a chat.

It will be no surprise to learn that in the real world this is a complicated new area of filmmaking. There is no one-size fits all solution.

A successful project is as much about the people and their experience as it is about the clever software and powerful processing that underpins it all.

 

We are quietly confident we can help you realise your project in a virtual way and save costs at the same time.

 
Call us on +44 (0)20 7737 0007 of use the contact form here.

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Lighting

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