Emerging from the canvas of the green screen, virtual production stages seamlessly integrate LED walls and dynamic video displays to breathe life into diverse environments during filming. Known for its immersive experiences and comprehensive team involvement during pre and post-production, virtual production continues to grow in popularity as a viable option for many types of video and film production. 

History of Virtual Production

Although the concept of virtual production has roots dating back to the 1970s, it truly found its stride in the 2010s. Technological advancements and the adoption of new techniques in films like “Avatar,” propelled its growth.

The momentum carried into the 2020s, where virtual production gained even more prominence. Productions like “The Mandalorian” served as another example, highlighting the possibilities of this new-age filmmaking approach.

What Is Virtual Production?

Virtual production allows storytellers to transcend traditional environmental and logistical limitations while at the same time offering an immersive canvas where imagination takes center stage. Simply put, virtual production is the new green screen. Filmmakers use LED walls instead of painted walls to create realistic environments.  These LED walls can communicate with the cameras when desired, allowing the environment to move in sync with the camera and creating realistic camera moves.

By blending physical (production design and set elements) and virtual worlds (LED walls), creative filmmakers can craft visually stunning storylines in any environment they can conceive of. Compared to shooting with a green screen, working with virtual sets has pros and cons. We think mostly pros!

Pros include reduced post-production workload, enhanced creativity during filming, and real-time adjustments to be made on set when using Unreal Engine. 

However, just like with all things video production, there can be some challenges. The requirement for lots of tech involvement can make virtual productions more expensive. Instead of being able to make adjustments later, you have to recognize and create your vision during pre-production rather than post-production.

As with anything new, creating within the parameters of a virtual production stage requires new skills and advanced technology integration. But no need to fret or stress—we’re here to help, providing you with a guide on how to plan your virtual production shoot accordingly. But first…

Who Does Virtual Production Shoots Cater To?

You don’t have to be a director, filmmaker, or creative director to be invested in the world of virtual production. Even for those who prioritize making social media content, virtual production is a plausible element to use. From enhancing visual aesthetics in short videos to creating captivating virtual backgrounds for live streams, it’s about making an impact and being engaging. 

You can even consider hosting a virtual event against a changing backdrop, easily transporting your audience to a fantasy-like realm. 

Onward to what you’ve been waiting for….

9 Tips To Plan for a Virtual Production Shoot

Follow along as we uncover some key ways in which you can plan for virtual production shoots and enjoy the flexibility and creative control it allows filmmakers. 

1. Early Script Analysis and Virtual Environment Design:

You have got to begin your planning by analyzing the script early on and identifying scenes suitable for virtual production. Like any script, you should collaborate with the production designer to create virtual environments, ensuring they align with the vision and have technical feasibility.

2. Utilize Pre-visualization Tools

Incorporate pre-visualization tools to create storyboards and mock-ups. This helps filmmakers visualize scenes, experiment with camera angles, and make informed decisions before the actual production, ultimately helping to save time and money.

3. Invest in a High-Quality Virtual Production Stage:

Choose a well-equipped virtual production stage with a high-quality LED wall and advanced camera tracking systems. Investing in top-notch technology ensures a more realistic virtual environment and enhances creativity during the shoot.

4. Collaborate with VFX and Post-Production Teams Early:

One of the advantages of virtual production is the ability to foster collaboration between the virtual production team and post-production/VFX teams from the project’s inception. This coordination ensures a smoother workflow, reduces rework, and enhances the overall creative output. It also creates a dynamic in which the team shares their ideas transparently. 

5. Implement Real-time Rendering Technology:

Embrace real-time rendering technology to create dynamic virtual environments that respond to live actions. This enhances creative possibilities and accelerates the production process, again offering an opportunity to save both time and money.

6. Explore Remote Collaboration Tools:

Having a diverse group of talent working on a project is imperative. Everyone has to be in the same place with the common film set. Not anymore. Now, you can use virtual collaboration tools that allow teams to work seamlessly from different locations. This facilitates remote collaboration among filmmakers, creatives, and production crew, promoting efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and an inclusive space for more ideas.

7. Train Crew for Virtual Production Techniques:

Although this style of production has been around since the 1970s, let’s be real: not everyone knows how to do it. This is a great chance for teaching and learning. You could consider providing comprehensive training for the production crew on virtual production techniques. This ensures everyone is well-versed in the technology, leading to smoother coordination on set and reducing the likelihood of errors. Not to mention, once trained, your team will continue to evolve and provide even more value to future productions. 

8. Incorporate AI-driven Analytics for Efficiency:

AI is here, and it isn’t going anywhere. Take advantage of the tools that AI offers, especially when it comes to efficiency. It’s time to integrate AI-driven analytics to analyze production data and identify areas for optimization. This can help make data-driven decisions, leading to cost savings and improved overall productivity during virtual production shoots.

9. Case Studies of Successful Virtual Production Projects:

Study successful virtual production projects like “The Mandalorian” or “The Lion King” to understand their workflows and how they achieved creative success. Generate your own ideas and processes based on their lessons and strategies and apply them to your own virtual production planning.

Can we all agree that virtual production shoots seem to be in its infancy? With studio owners like Tyler Perry no longer investing millions in revamping their studio sets due to the growth of virtual production, this style of production should most certainly be in your future. Don’t get left behind. 

We’d love to help you develop the perfect video project for your brand. To learn more about Bottle Rocket Media’s virtual production services, video production services and other services like motion graphics services, connect with us to start your video project.