The impact of Virtual Production on the Game and Film industry

Virtual production is a relatively new technology that is seeing increased use in film and television production. But is it also being used to create video games? In this article, we'll take a look at what exactly virtual production entails and examine its emerging role in game development.

What is virtual production?

Virtual production refers to the use of virtual environments and tools during the production process of films, TV shows, or video games. It typically involves shooting scenes in front of LED video walls, known as LED volumes, which display interactive computer graphics backgrounds in real time.

The background environments are created digitally and can be manipulated and updated instantaneously. This allows filmmakers and game developers unprecedented flexibility to iterate scenes and shots without having to physically build and strike different sets.

Key components of a virtual production workflow include:

  • LED volumes: Curved high-resolution LED video walls that surround a stage or set.
  • Real-time engines: Software platforms like Unity and Unreal Engine that render the virtual backgrounds and environments.
  • Motion capture: Technology to translate the movements of cameras, actors, and assets into the virtual world.

virtual production in games and films

The role of virtual cameras in visualization

A core part of virtual production involves using virtual cameras. These are operated by camera operators or directors inside the LED volume and allow them to navigate through the virtual set.

The movements of the virtual camera are motion captured and translated in real time into the rendered environment displayed on the LED walls. This allows filmmakers and developers to visualize and explore scenes as if shooting with a real camera on a physical set.

Virtual cameras give creators unparalleled freedom of movement, angles, and perspective when laying out shots. This process of interactive previsualization enables more dynamic and flexible shot composition.

For video game developers, experimenting with virtual cameras can aid in prototyping third-person and first-person camera mechanics during preproduction. It allows them to iterate different approaches rapidly without having to build test environments first.

So while virtual production originated in film and TV, real-time engines like Unity and Unreal Engine make adopting these techniques increasingly viable for game creators as well. The ability to visualize and test shots and camera paths in-engine faster helps accelerate the development process.

As virtual production technology matures, we will likely see more game studios embrace and integrate these tools and workflows. The level of rapid iteration and visualization they enable align well with iterative nature of game production.

traditional film production

Virtual production in films

Virtual production has been making waves in the film industry in recent years. This emerging form of digital filmmaking offers great promise in transforming traditional production workflows. But what exactly does virtual production entail and how does it differ from conventional approaches?

The different types of virtual production

There are a few common virtual production setups that are possible by integrating real-time game engines and LED wall technologies:

  • In-camera visual effects: Shooting against LED volumes that display interactive CG backgrounds rendered in real time. This allows dynamic scene environments without green screens.
  • Virtual scouting: Using VR/AR to scout locations and experiment with shots and camera angles virtually during pre-production.
  • Simulated production: Constructing detailed virtual replicas of physical sets and locations to test lighting, shot options, and more before filming.

Virtual production encompasses all production practices that leverage interactive computer graphics and simulations. The unifying aspect is the use of real-time tools and technologies.

How is virtual production different from traditional film production?

Traditionally, filming backgrounds and visual effects has been a linear workflow. Physical environments and sets would be constructed based on storyboards. Visual effects would also be created after shooting based on locked sequences and shots.

In contrast, virtual production introduces much more parallelization and interactivity to the process through real-time game engine integration:

  • Virtual locations and effects can be visualized and explored simultaneously to directing shots.
  • Shots and camera angles can be quickly iterated without costly reshoots.
  • Pre-visualization during pre-production is far more detailed and representative of final imagery.

Additionally, virtual production data like camera tracking and rendered backgrounds can directly inform later stages like post-production VFX. This continuum from pre-production through post helps connect previously siloed stages.

The flexibility and visualization virtual production permits are allowing directors and creative teams to push scene boundaries further than ever before. Although adoption is still in its early stages, virtual production promises to transform filmmaking as we know it.

virtual production

The Game-Changing Role of Virtual Production in Video Games

The world of video game development is embracing exciting new technologies like virtual production to enhance creative workflows. As games become more cinematic, what lessons can game creators learn from the film industry’s adoption of virtual production methods?

VFX in Video Games

Like summer blockbuster movies, video games increasingly rely on complex visual effects (VFX) to realized detailed worlds and spectacular sequences. The level of photorealism and environmental effects expected in top games on PS5 and Xbox Series X demands new tools.

In the past, VFX pipelines have been time-intensive for game developers. Effects were added in post-processing after environments were constructed and proved cumbersome to iterate frequently. But emerging virtual production techniques are changing this status quo.

Using Virtual Production for Visualization

Virtual production – the use of real-time game engines, motion capture, and display walls to visualize effects and sequences virtually – can greatly benefit video game creators.

During pre-production, developers can scout and design rich world environments in VR. Custom real-time game editors allow them to place objects, lights, and make dynamic adjustments that instantly update the rendered views used for visualization.

Such interactive prototyping helps teams experiment visually with graphics, animations, cameras, and lighting far faster than conventional workflows. This pre-visualization process leads to higher quality VFX content pipelines for rendered cutscenes and gameplay sequences.

As video games continue mimicking the look of interactive films, virtual production promises to bridge the gap between pre-production planning and real-time VFX execution. These techniques may one day enable small studios to punch above their weight by iterating visually at speeds previously only possible for AAA developers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *