Brainstorm – The flexibility of virtual production

Brainstorm – The flexibility of virtual production

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Brainstorm – The flexibility of virtual production

Wed 17, 04 2024

Brainstorm – The flexibility of virtual production

Miguel Churruca, marketing and communications director, Brainstorm

Virtual production is already a mature technology that not only allows for high-quality results, but also reduces costs and contributes to increase the industry’s sustainability. The introduction of advanced rendering technologies such as game engines or real-time ray tracing significantly boosted the quality of the real-time renderings, allowing content creators of any size and kind to produce photo realistic content, meaning high-end results no longer restricted for high-budget filmmakers, but available to a wider range of creators.

Now, an increasingly higher number of users can take advantage of this technology, from producers to content creators and from production crews to audiences. This democratization of virtual production is also the result of a wider and, in some cases, more affordable range of solutions to choose from, and when budget is less of an excuse for excellent results, the creator’s creativity is even more important to make a difference. Brainstorm, with decades of experience in virtual sets, real-time 3D graphics and film pre-visualization, understood the benefits of virtual technology from day one, and now its product range and expertise cover all aspects of virtual production, from high-end filmmaking to corporate presentations.

Talking of virtual production, and while many understand it is referred to using large LED volumes, the reality is that virtual content can be produced with smaller LED videowalls or even chroma sets of any size and shape. The latest is a widely known and proven technology that has lately been eclipsed by LEDs, however it is more than useful when thinking on going virtual. So, the only reason of choosing LED-based virtual production or chroma sets will be the production requirements, or the available budget. And, although large LED volumes or chroma cycloramas are always welcome while in production, both allow for using smaller and more compact setups, by using set extension techniques when using LEDs or by simply taking advantage of the possibilities of 3D virtual sets with chroma studios. This means that larger sizes and resources are welcome, but also that they are not essential for achieving excellent results, which demonstrates the flexibility virtual production provides when it comes to studio setups.

It is when shooting indoors when the flexibility of virtual production technology is more obvious, as it allows content creators to unleash their creativity with locations, environments, or timing. Directors can “go” to any location without boundaries, from made-up locations to real ones in which it is impossible to shoot, such as forbidden inaccessible locations, protected environments, or places in which placing a crew is just impossible. Using virtual production, directors, DOPs and art directors can get the scene right as they want it, and for as much time as required. It is possible to shoot a car scene without closing an entire city for hours, shoot a sunset scene for a whole day, with the light, clouds and ambient as we may dream of, or bring a remote location to stage instead of sending a complete crew and actors to the other side of the world. Extensive usage of this technology may even allow for chronologic, rather than scene-based, shooting.

Specialist production houses like MR Factory pioneered real-time virtual production using chroma sets and achieving results that are indistinguishable from reality. As an exercise, they took a short film shot in different real situations and emulated it with real-time chroma sets, with the results that can be seen in the pictures.

Virtual technology allows for saving costs also in post-production. Now that we can produce the perfect scene indoors, the obvious consequence is the savings on actors’ time, travel costs and logistics, because we actually bring the scene to the set, rather than bring the whole crew to the real location. This does not exclude real locations when required, but, again, we have the flexibility of choosing the best scenario depending on budget and other requirements. And when there is no choice, like when the location is inaccessible, we’re not allowed to shoot there, or it is just not real, virtual production is there to save the day. Also, using chroma keying in combination with tracked cameras, recording the real-time chroma keying and tracking information in simultaneous layers certainly saves post-production time and ensures a more accurate composition and VFX integration, while making better use of artists’ time. And, when such effects are not required, virtual production directly provides a valid, accurate and approved output as if it was shot with props and real locations.

So, virtual production can produce excellent results with larger or smaller setups, different workflows – LED volumes or chroma sets – and can be used by content creators of any kind and with productions of a range of budgets and requirements. As a side effect, virtual production also contributes to the industry’s sustainability, by reducing the carbon footprint with the reduced travel costs, construction or less computer power and requirements for post-production. And by bringing its decades-long experience in the field, Brainstorm’s product range for virtual production, headed by InfinitySet, brings a plethora of possibilities for content creators and producers, no matter if we are talking about film, high-end drama productions, sitcoms, news, sports or entertainment shows.

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