Story at the Center

This blog delves into the intricacies of aligning the C-suite around compelling narratives to achieve unprecedented success.

  • OCTOBER 12, 2022
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Virtual Production Enables Agile Storytelling

Eric Melin

Creative Director

Experience strategy is one of the six core offerings of Discovery as a Service, 1P's proprietary method for solving complex business problems. So let's say that holding a live event—building off of your company's Unified Narrative Framework—is part of your experience strategy. Naturally, you want it to be out of this world. But before you can move forward, you’re stalled by a number of roadblocks:

  1. Your imagination is limited by the stage design in the physical space.
  2. Several important stakeholders won’t be able to travel to the event.
  3. Your budget won’t support your preferred venue.

Unfortunately, the endless possibilities you started with have narrowed to a pretty short list of not-so-great options. The solution? Virtual production.

  1. Virtual production allows for an infinite number of possibilities for stage and environmental design.
  2. People from all around the world can be “beamed up” into the same virtual environment—in a way that’s more immersive and less like a Zoom call.
  3. You can invent your own customized venue. Hell, take “out of this world” literally—and host your event from Mars!

Virtual production utilizes technology that is more accessible than ever. The recent increase in the adoption of virtual production can be at least partially attributed to the pandemic, which helped smaller crews deliver higher quality on tighter budgets.

Above is a brief look at a recent Cisco product launch 1P produced that was shot using Unreal Engine 3D technology to create several slick virtual sets and populate them with minimal (and sometimes playful) practical props.

The latest greenscreen technology does the work in-camera and eliminates guesswork with framing and timing. You can see the virtual elements integrated with the real. It understands vector, and tracks in real-time, so the crew can adjust scale and composition on set without having to fix things in post production.

Simulcam enables the live compositing of virtual elements—including CG assets—with live-action cinematography in real-time.

There’s even an iOS AR app similar to Simulcam that tracks and overlays CG objects into the iPad’s camera to see how they fit into your set or location, helping you make on-the-spot key decisions.

Sometimes its difficult to keep your talent on set for the amount of time needed for a shoot, especially if they are from the c-suite—or if they are the number-one-ranked QB in the NFL. This LED virtual production stage gave filmmakers the ability to film everything they needed in a single day.

Images from real-time engines are outputted to the live LED wall. Used in combination with camera tracking, final-pixel imagery is produced completely in camera, which means you can tweak and adjust visuals in real time to match up the live action, physical props, and CG environment:

Virtual production technologies famously took a leap forward in The Mandalorian, which utilizes a giant curved LED wall called “The Volume” that surrounds live actors with real-looking photographic scenes creating interactive / realistic lighting over the actors.

If you think about it, Hollywood was built over 100 years on the back of billions of investment dollars, and The Mandalorian and its LED technology came in and accomplished the same thing—capturing any possible scenario real-time in camera—only it was millions instead of billions. It has transformed storytelling from behind the camera, and has grown virtual production rapidly with many wanting to utilize this technology for film, TV, and live events.

3D environments are put on screen within the LED walls all rendering in real-time—with no lag or delay—so actors can move around in that environment. When the camera moves in 3D space, the images on the LED walls also move in 3D. That change in perspective is what creates the illusion that it's real.

And, yeah, of course this helps actors feel surrounded by desert landspeeders and feel like they are really in snow-cave starship hideouts, but it’s also incredibly useful for more realistic, non-SFX-driven settings.

You also get interactive lighting control: See how lighting affects things, and alter the lighting to preview how those changes affect everything—as you’re filming the scene.

These kinds of virtual production tools enable agility throughout the lifecycle of the production. They allow VFX creation to start earlier in the process and help creative decisions get made in the moment.

Virtual production isn’t just a pandemic-era creative workaround. It’s a key tool in unlocking storytelling potential and business value.

We are constantly growing our knowledge of and experimenting with the latest workflows and technologies, as part of our continuing effort to translate top brand messaging priorities into the most compelling stories and personalized experiences around.

The Story at the Center blog shares insights and strategies that have helped organizations—from startups to Fortune 100s—harness the power of storytelling to navigate complexities and dominate their markets.

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