In Broadcast - December 2020 - 72

72

www.inbroadcast.com | Vol: 10 - Issue 12 | InReview 2020

InTech

Cinema Turns to Broadcast
Workflows for Production
During COVID-19
T

he new wave of filmmaking
has entered Hollywood by
way of Virtual Production. Game
engine technology is being utilized
by VFX artists to render live digital
environments for playback on largescale LED walls. In lieu of the typical
green screen process, actors are now
able to respond to physical projections
of imaginary worlds, so live action and
VFX can be combined for in-camera
capture. Disney's The Mandalorian
exposed wider audiences to virtual
filming aesthetics by unveiling the
technological curtain through a series
of behind-the-scenes videos, including
Virtual Production of The Mandalorian,
Season One [https://www.youtube.
com/watch?v=gUnxzVOs3rk],
which
has amassed 1.5 million views on
YouTube alone.
Although virtual production as a
technology has existed for some
time, it remains a niche field in which
few people understand its practical
application. Educators at USC's
Entertainment Technology Center
were eager to introduce their students
to this new technology. Founded in
1993 with the assistance of filmmaker
and USC alumni George Lucas, ETC
combines the art and science of
modern digital media as a way to
expose students to emerging tech
and develop their creative storytelling
abilities. To incentivize development
within virtual production, Universal
Studios, Warner Brothers, and
Microsoft would award three grants
to directors at ETC for projects based
on this technology; two sound stages
would be transformed into a testing
ground for recent graduates and ETC
member studios to learn the varied
applications of virtual previsualization,
production design, set scouting,
and filming within a full LED-wall
environment.
The R&D vehicle chosen for this
lesson: The Ripple Effect, a sci-fi short
film set in a not-so-distant future in
which the discovery of a new planet
becomes the human race's last
hope for survival. Penned by recent

USC grads Hannah Bang and Margo
Sawaya, they would be given the
chance to direct by utilizing virtual
development and production to prove
that large-scale ideas could coalesce
on a shoestring budget, with limited
crew. Industry-experienced ETC faculty
members Greg Caccio (ASC Associate
Member & Workflow Chair of the
Motion Imaging Technology Council)
and Kathryn Brillhart (VES Global
Board of Directors & ASC MITC Virtual
Production
Committee
Member)
would executive produce and oversee
production workflow, guiding crew
through the intricacies of live vistech.
ETC partnered with Global Trend
Pro and Lux Machina to utilize their
LED stages, along with a volumetric
capture team from Virtual Wonders
to provide accurate virtual models
of the filming spaces, so the crew
could better plan set construction and
gear placement. Brillhart exposed
the filmmakers to virtual location
scouting and visualization within 3D
environments developed through
Unreal Engine, and VAD artists from
Halon Entertainment and ICVR would
be present during filming to export

live environmental renders. " The goal
of what we're doing with each of these
environments is to walk away from our
shoot days with final visual effects that
were captured in-camera, " explains
Brillhart. " Typically, a VAD team would
work in tandem with a VFX team to
achieve final pixel in-camera VFX. With
our limited schedule, we relied on our
VAD teams to get as close to photoreal imagery as possible. We set goals
for each scene to test the 'level of
photo real' that would sell each shot.
For example: Would the content need
to look photo-real to our eye on the
LED wall, or only through the camera's
lens? Making evaluations like this
during pre-production can help save
resources for shots that require more
detail. " With all of their dominos linedup, production was set to go.
However, just as filming was
slated to begin, the industry-wide
COVID-19 production shutdown went
into effect. ETC was forced to delay
production and would now be faced
with the additional complications
of implementing on-set safety
protocols. Crewmembers would be
required to undergo rigorous COVID

screening, wear PPE, remain at a
distance whenever possible, and no
more than 12 bodies could be present
at Lux Machina at any given time.
These restrictions presented a myriad
of logistical hurdles, including the
inability for people to group together
at video village. The stage operators
at Lux Machina and the VAD artists
from Halon Entertainment would
need to remotely collaborate with the
production's creative team to minimize
crew on set. Additionally, director
Margo Sawaya would be stuck on the
East Coast and would somehow need
to telecommunicate for the first two
days of production. In a profession
that necessitates close in-person
collaboration, could this project really
get its feet off the ground?
Brillhart and Caccio viewed their new
predicament as an opportunity - not a
hindrance. " Remote monitoring and
workflows were built into our original
proposal before the shutdowns
happened, " Brillhart recalls. " However,
Covid Safety became a way to
challenge ourselves to push these
technologies farther. It was very
unique not to have the option to


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In Broadcast - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - December 2020

Contents
In Broadcast - December 2020 - Intro
In Broadcast - December 2020 - Cover1
In Broadcast - December 2020 - Cover2
In Broadcast - December 2020 - Contents
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 4
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 5
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 6
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 7
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 8
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 9
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 10
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 11
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 12
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 13
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 14
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 15
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 16
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 17
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 18
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 19
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 20
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 21
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 22
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 23
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 24
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 25
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 26
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 27
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 28
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 29
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 30
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 31
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 32
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 33
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 34
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 35
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 36
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 37
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 38
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 39
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 40
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 41
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 42
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 43
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 44
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In Broadcast - December 2020 - 70
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 71
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 72
In Broadcast - December 2020 - 73
In Broadcast - December 2020 - Cover3
In Broadcast - December 2020 - Cover4
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