Want to learn Disney? Forget about the green screen first and take a look at their new virtual production technology

“We can “refrigerate” the original two minutes before sunset and use this perfect state for 10 hours.”

Although Disney+ has launched three Marvel universe dramas, for this super streaming platform that aims to catch up with Netflix, the most important original content it has brought so far is undoubtedly the Star Wars drama “The Mandalorian” “The two seasons of content brought a large number of subscribers to Disney+, and successfully retained these people, and the appearance of the role of Baby Yoda also gave Disney another hot derivative product line.

It can be said that Jon Feiru, the producer from Marvel’s crossover to Star Wars, started with derivative dramas and gave Star Wars IP a new vitality, especially compared to the Star Wars movies that have been losing popularity. “The Mandalorian” is undoubtedly more friendly to many non-Star Wars fans.

Want to learn Disney? Forget about the green screen first and take a look at their new virtual production technology

“The Mandalorian (Season 2)” stills

Of course, in addition to setting the tone for the plot, another major contribution of Jon Feiru as a producer may be even less well known. As the director of two Disney special effects blockbusters “Fantasy Forest” and “The Lion King”, he Always maintaining the enthusiasm for exploring new technologies, and coming to Disney’s big bet “The Mandalorian”, the use of a new virtual production technology called Stagecraft has once again brought Hollywood’s industrial process into another innovation. .

At the same time, the realization of this set of solutions has once again proved that Disney is not only good at making content, but also a company that is good at making hardware and playing technology.

Relying on LED wall instead of green screen, special effects production enters a new era

Since the development of movies, the production level has basically moved closer to the technology industry, especially in the large-scale visual effects blockbusters that require massive special effects. The post-special effects are often the part of the post-production period that takes the longest time in the entire production cycle.

If you have watched the behind-the-scenes specials of works like “The Avengers” or “The Wandering Earth”, it is not difficult to see a large number of green screen shooting scenes, and it is these scenes that ultimately transform into a grand space or exciting battle scenes. .

In fact, green screen shooting is not only exclusive to these super blockbuster films. Many domestic fantasy dramas have not used this technology less, and even made a lot of “innovative” operations. Maybe someone still remembers Zhong Hanliang and Angelababy starring in the costume drama “The Lonely Beauty”. The two leading actors only shoot close-ups and close-ups, and a large number of shots are shot separately in the studio with a green screen, and then cut out and then with other actors. Synthetic can be regarded as a major invention and creation of the great leap forward of film and television capital in those years.

Of course, it is not uncommon to use the green screen technology to perform character buttoning to make up shots, but it is generally used for making up shots of unrecoverable scenes or emergency actor replacements , guiding the female helicopter pilot in the new work “Legion of the Dead” All the roles of the actor were actually shot on the whole green screen, and then supplemented in the later stage, because the original actor was expelled by Netflix for improper behavior.

Want to learn Disney? Forget about the green screen first and take a look at their new virtual production technology

“Legion of the Living Dead” achieves a complete remake of the role through the green screen

The green screen has indeed become the standard for Hollywood blockbusters for a long time. After all, there are too many scenes that do not exist in reality that need to be presented in post-production.

However, this technology also brings various problems. The high production cost and complicated production process are on the one hand, and on the other hand, it is the damage to the actor’s performance and photography scheduling . After all, the use of green screen means that the actor most of the time All need to rely on the brain to supplement the scene to perform, especially for some actors who are not good at acting. The green screen performance magnifies the weakness of their performance. Photographers also need to allow themselves to accommodate the green screen , after all, everything has to serve expensive post-production special effects.

Therefore, when preparing for the shooting of “The Mandalorian”, producer Jon Feiru wanted to integrate some of the techniques he used in “Fantasy Forest” and “The Lion King” to create a brand new production. Paradigm. In the end, he and Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic hit it off and jointly developed a system called StageCraft.

With this system, the creator can design the shooting scene in VR in the early stage, and during the shooting, the pre-designed and produced virtual landscape will be displayed on a 270° circular LED screen. This device is Called Volume , the actors and photographers are all in it after shooting starts, and what the lens records is almost a “film effect.”

After using StageCraft and Volume, actors who are wrapped in almost real scenes will obviously feel immersive when performing, and directors and photographers can also compose pictures more directly, achieving “what you see is what you get”.

Want to learn Disney? Forget about the green screen first and take a look at their new virtual production technology

The real shot effect of the first season of “The Mandalorian” in Volume

This is actually not the first time that Industrial Light & Magic has used LED screens to assist in shooting. Previously, when shooting “Rogue One”, Industrial Light & Magic used an LED screen as an interactive light source to simulate the light that would be generated by rendering the background, but at that time the quality of the content on the screen was not enough to be a direct background.

From a more specific point of view, the super-large screen called “Volume” is about 6 meters high and nearly 54 meters in circumference. It is composed of 1326 independent LED screens and also contains a high-resolution LED display. “Roof”.

The biggest innovation of Stagecraft compared to those small LED backgrounds in the past is that not only the images displayed are generated on-site in a realistic 3D manner by a powerful GPU, but the 3D scene is directly affected by the movement and settings of the camera. If the camera moves to the right, the image will change, just like a real scene.

After successfully shooting through this system in the first season, Industrial Light and Magic is also continuing to improve its technology. In the second season shooting, it launched StageCraft 2.0. This time it not only changed the size of StageCraft, but also modified its shape. Various new experiments.

Richard Bluff is the visual effects director of “The Mandalorian” and also the visual effects director of Industrial Light and Magic. He said in the official Star Wars blog, “In the first season, we did an experiment and the topic of discussion was this LED wall. How old it should be. Now in the second season, we are no longer daunted and ready to go.”

Want to learn Disney? Forget about the green screen first and take a look at their new virtual production technology

“The Mandalorian” Producer Jon Feiru and VFX Supervisor Richard Bluff

In the first season, the camera captured the 3D real-time background in Volume. However, Industrial Light & Magic expanded the scope of camera tracking in the second season, not only placing tracking devices in Volume, but also doing more articles outside of Volume.

If the audience pays close attention, they will find that there are many long shots of the protagonist walking silently in The Mandalorian.

In the first season, the characters walked are actually in the encircled circle of Volume, but in the second season, the entire walking path extends directly beyond the LED wall of Volume, and goes deep into the location of the non-photographic department, making its application The scene becomes more extensive.

“The wonderful thing about this system is that everyone in the crew is now on the same channel,” Rodriguez, the director of several episodes of “The Mandalorian,” was almost stunned in Industrial Light and Magic. Said in the show video. “It inspires actors, it inspires filmmakers to now see what they are shooting in real time. It’s like you finally painted under the light.”

Saving money and time, don’t you think about the pursuit of self-made Aiyou Tengmang?

As a heavyweight work that kicked off Disney+, Disney’s production cost for “The Mandalorian” has almost reached the ceiling of the current drama, with more than 12 million U.S. dollars per book, and the overall production cost after eight episodes in a season. It will almost certainly exceed 100 million, but even with this top level of production, producers still need to consider how to maximize the use of these production funds, and the entire StageCraft system does help the crew compress some of the location shooting time and expenses.

On the one hand, the crew does not need to conduct large-scale field reconnaissance. Even if certain specific scenes are needed, they can only be photographed and converted into material. On the other hand, it is time. For natural scenery, the light is in every time period. Changes have taken place, which also makes the repeated shooting of some lenses take too long because of the need to wait for the weather to change.

Richard Bluff mentioned in an interview with “American Photographer” that, generally speaking, they may change scenes twice a day.

Want to learn Disney? Forget about the green screen first and take a look at their new virtual production technology

The real shot effect of the first season of “The Mandalorian” in Volume

More importantly, the scenes displayed on the LED screen are controllable, which also means that those “perfect moments” that exist for a short time under natural conditions and need to wait patiently can be called at any time after virtual production by the computer.

“We can “refrigerate” the original two minutes before sunset and use this perfect state for 10 hours.” said Barry Idoine, who was in charge of part of the photography of The Mandalorian.

Of course, this whole set of systems called “virtual production” is not only supported by powerful hardware, but in terms of software, it further blurs the boundaries between film and television production and game development , because the StageCraft system can be used on Volume The realistic effect of real-time changes is due to its close cooperation with Epic Games and the use of the latter’s signature technology-Unreal Engine 4.

Industrial Light and Magic works closely with the art team and props team of the film crew to scan the design materials, productions and painted props of these departments, and import Unreal Engine 4 to do the preliminary preview work such as VR sceneries for each team. . The final content can be imported into other DCC applications such as Unreal, Houdini, 3DS Max, and then imported into the Helios real-time renderer on the day of shooting, and the screen will appear accurately on the LED wall.

It can be said that virtual production has completely changed the film and television production process, a large amount of post-production work has become part of the preliminary preparation, and on-site shooting has given directors and photographers more room for development.

Want to learn Disney? Forget about the green screen first and take a look at their new virtual production technology

Through the StageCraft system, on-site shooting achieves “what you see is what you get”

Kim Liberi, the chief technology officer of Epic Games, also said: “The pursuit of visual effects has gradually eliminated the fun of making movies.” Before entering the game field, he worked for Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic for many years. “When you face a green screen and the performance of the actors wearing table tennis or tennis equipment, it becomes a pretty daunting experience for the actors and directors. I think we can be here. What it does is to return control to the filmmaker.”

Due to the new crown epidemic, global scene shooting has become an “impossible task” in the past, and virtual production technology is rapidly iterated, and it is regarded as a new solution in the “post-epidemic era”.

Mark Pilborough-Skinner, director of virtual production at Garden Studios in the United Kingdom, mentioned in an interview with Sky News: “About a year ago, virtual production was more or less a theoretical cutting-edge technology, and not many works actually used it. , But now not only top productions, but even small and medium-sized productions are beginning to use it.”

For domestic streaming media platforms such as iQiyi and Tencent Video, which are now vigorously developing original and self-made content, the development and adoption of virtual production technology can better serve their self-made goals.

Putting aside the quality that cannot be quickly improved in a short period of time, even in terms of annual content output, there is still a considerable gap between domestic streaming media and international platforms, and this technology can significantly shorten the shooting cycle and more The investment in special effects in the front will also make the post-shooting have a greater error tolerance rate.

From the current point of view, some domestic film and television companies have begun to pay attention to this technology, and began to try to invest. At this year’s Shanghai Film Festival’s Global Film Industry Chain Development Forum, Huang Leiguang, chairman of Hengdian Film and Television City Film and Television Management Services Co., Ltd., said that Hengdian already has LED studios and other shooting technologies, and held a LED virtual shooting promotion week in March. activity.

Want to learn Disney? Forget about the green screen first and take a look at their new virtual production technology

There is no need to worry about lighting and post-production, the photographer has more room to play

Sun Zheyi, president of Sunac Culture Group, who aspires to become a “half Disney”, also said that Sunac Culture is currently introducing this technology from Hollywood and will begin to experiment with related shooting methods this year. Base FX, a visual effects production company under Sunac Culture, has also participated in the post-production of “The Mandalorian” as one of the special effects producers and has certain experience in participating in virtual production.

As the majority shareholder of Epic Games, Tencent is obviously not difficult to obtain technical support related to Unreal Engine or even an exclusive development team.

It should be said that Disney once again demonstrated their strong technological development and integration capabilities to the outside world, and this is actually the industrialization of film and television that domestic film and television companies and video platforms have always been thinking about. Therefore , instead of spending money and time in the “meta universe”, which is still illusory. Conceptually, it is better to seriously study the technical aspects of virtual production , and strive to quickly turn the gorgeous film lists released every year into reality as soon as possible, so as to have the opportunity to truly realize more lofty ideals.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/want-to-learn-disney-forget-about-the-green-screen-first-and-take-a-look-at-their-new-virtual-production-technology/
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