Virtual production and real-time rendering are changing the way commercials and promos are made. In a new demo film for Volvo’s EV arm, a Polestar 2 is driven in the pre-dawn light of an urban setting, across a bridge and out into a wintry countryside. The camera captures the light, the reflections, the angles and closeups of the driving experience beautifully. It looks great.
Apart from the car and the driver, none of it is real. It’s all CGI, and it wasn’t shot using green screen. The environment was built entirely in Unreal Engine by Impossible Objects with full-service production company NantStudios taking care of the shoot at its LED stage. Together, they show the limitless potential and capabilities of virtual production.
“With virtual production, you control the whole big picture. Light, environment, movement – your creative paintbrush is more infinite than ever before. And by using Unreal Engine, one can add, shape, or lose a mountain within the blink of an eye and travel from New York to LA to Iceland all within a single production day.
This demo film for Polestar represents a very fresh and novel new workflow that we believe is the future of how films can be made. There’s no need to wait for golden hour to capture that perfect half-hour of sunlight. You’re really able to expand your creative ambition and reach for bigger ideas, and see the results in real time.”Joe Sill, founder and director at Impossible Objects
Previously, using traditional CGI methods, many days or weeks of rendering would have been required to achieve these results. With virtual production, however, environments can be adjusted to the director’s satisfaction on set, in real-time, with ray-traced renders also available on the day. While lighting is also as accurate as it would be on a live-action set, shooting virtually allows more time for exploration and experimentation. Different environments, times of day and combinations thereof can be tried and tested until everybody’s happy.
“A notable benefit with ICVFX is the onset efficiency. We’ve seen projects shoot as many as four different celebrities, environments, and practical sets in one 12-hour day. Since it’s possible to create bespoke worlds that are project-specific through Unreal Engine, 3D real-time environments can be custom-made for a client and recycled for multiple different vehicle models, over the life of seasonal campaigns or during reshoots. What might have been accomplished over two to three days can be achieved in a single shoot day.”Keaton Heinrichs, senior director of operations, NantStudios
An actor’s performance can be captured on another stage, in another part of the world even, and seamlessly inserted into the scene. With virtual production, issues around things like permits, airline travel, hotels, generators, and weather are simply eliminated.
If you would like to know more about virtual production, get in touch with Mondatum here for advice and guidance on how the technology works and who to speak to for your particular production.