TVB Europe 78 November / December 2020

Page 38


THE REALITY OF THE SITUATION Even before the changes in production that were needed to cope with the effects of Covid-19, the family of realities – augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed realities – were becoming more and more common on the broadcast landscape. Recent events have seen new opportunities for the technology. Philip Stevens takes a look at a few of the recent developments in the ‘realities’ field and gets immersed in a virtual environment


K-based On-Set Facilities (OSF) was established in 2016 to provide virtual production solutions, design virtual studios and build powerful on-set computer systems. “We develop solutions that allow talent and crews to perform and shoot in real-time on both physical and virtual sets,” explains Asa Bailey, OSF’s virtual production director and executive producer. “Together with our customers and partners, we are re-inventing media production both on-set and virtually in the cloud.” One recent innovative mixed reality project for the company involved producing 10 programmes for Japanese telecoms provider, NTT. “The purpose was to educate NTT’s clients about changes in their marketplace, including the future prospects in a number of different sectors,” says Bailey. “The scripts were really wild and included how AI (artificial intelligence) would work in various industries.” In order to create a futuristic look to the programmes that would match the feel of the scripts, OSF turned to Unreal Engine to create state-of-the-art virtual worlds in which the actors could work. Unreal Engine is an advanced, real-time, 3D creation tool that enables producers to create interactive experiences, and immersive virtual worlds. Bailey says that OSF works with production VFX vendors who provide the virtual sets as Unreal Engine project files. “The VFX artists work in Maya, C4D, then they import the models into Unreal which is what we then use on-set. “We used a green screen studio in Madrid for this production because it offered the size we needed for this elaborate production,” he explains. “There are few such facilities in the UK – most green screen studios are fairly small and set up for broadcast purposes.”


DO IT LIVE He goes on, “We decided to create composited images in a live environment, and wanted to truly immerse the talent into the virtual worlds. To achieve this result, while we were shooting, the composited images were displayed on big projector screens all around the studio. This enabled both cast and crew to see the virtual world and made it easy for the actors to move in relation to each other and to move around buildings.” Bailey explains that two Arri Alexa Mini cameras were used on the shoot. One was connected to the system that was creating the live compositing output, while the other acted as a ‘B roll’ capture. Alongside capturing the composited result, the optical layer on the camera, the Chromakey mattes and the background were also saved by data recorders. These additional layers serve as insurance should anything need to be corrected in post production. “These extra plates are not usually needed, but occasionally we might feel the need to maybe rework an actor’s hair in a close up. Having the Chromakey layer enables us to carry out those tasks.” Audio was recorded on-set using conventional recording techniques. “We had a boom and the cast had their own microphones. We also took sound from the cameras that acted as a guide track for the editor.” Editing was carried out using Adobe Premiere. GET ORGANISED Bailey says that the key to successful production in this virtual world is good planning. “You have to be well organised and pre-visualisation is vital in these types of shoots. And you have to understand the technology and ‘lean’ into it. For example, you need to have really steady camera movements, I like to use the Panther dolly and

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