Utilizing the latest 3D animation software, motion capture and proprietary technologies, Virtual Production is a process that happens concurrently from pre production through to post production. Previs is often the starting point where virtual environments can be defined, explored and communicated in real-time. Action, camera moves, and shots can be planned out in advance of shooting in the most intuitive and effective way possible, helping solve production issues, minimizing risk and saving costs. These same digital assets can be further utilized when combined with live action in real-time when shooting the real life scenes on-set.
Nvizage has been involved in aspects of virtual film making techniques since 2006. For Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, Nvizage was involved in the development of a new pioneering on-set real time camera tracking system. A witness camera attached to the film camera tracked green screen markers in real-time. Nvizage also provided an onset mix and overlay system allowing us to combine virtual sets of a London skyline behind the foreground set of a practical ship proving incredibly useful to the director and DOP for framing the composition of shots.
Virtual cinematography played an important part in designing shots on the VFX Oscar winning film Hugo. Indeed, Nvizage was awarded a VES for outstanding contribution to virtual cinematography on Hugo.
We designed a desktop virtual camera for VFX supervisor Rob Legato. This hands on approach allowed Legato to create shots first hand rather than directing animators and previs artists to program the shots themselves. The system comprised of specially designed mini jib arm and an OConnor fluid head, both fully encoded to drive the motions of a virtual camera within our computer system, through Motion Builder, all in real-time. The system also proved to be invaluable for the Director Martin Scorcese, to explore the vision of the railway station set, and make important production choices in advance of shooting. Ultimately, we strive to give the creative control back to the filmmakers.
Virtual Camera System (VCS)
Nvizage continues to extend it’s previs Virtual Production tools with systems that facilitate both real-time virtual camera tracking and full motion capture simultaneously.
On Warner Bros. Wrath of the Titans and Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman, Nvizage was able to offer this free-form virtual camera option to the directors and DOPs to operate realistic hand held camera shooting styles on both of these productions.
Onset Real-time Camera Tracking
Nvizage carefully designed and programmed an on-set real-time camera tracking system on Hugo called Ncam
Full size camera rigs were encoded in exactly the same way as our desktop system and connected directly to our proprietry setup. Real camera motions were recorded, driving and syncronising the motion of our virtual camera in real-time. The same previs assets and virtual environments were redeployed serving as temporary backgrounds, and composited through the greenscreen portion of the live image.
The DOP could easily compose and frame shots whilst the director and the whole shooting crew were provided with an accurate visualization of the virtual sets in context with the live action all in real-time as shots were being filmed. This composite material provided first class material for editing the film, without having to wait for temporary VFX shots from the VFX facilities.
Ncam is now taking real-time camera tracking to the next level. The latest system integrates state-of-the-art software and hardware to offer highly accurate camera tracking in almost any condition, whether on set or location, handheld or on a crane with zero delay.
For more information please visit the Ncam website
Pitchvis illustrates the potential of a project before it has been fully funded or green lit. As part of development, these often 'hero' sequences are conceptual, to be refined or replaced during pre-production.
Nvizage created a high octane viseral action sequence for the seige of Alamut on Prince of Persia. Huge armies of soldiers as cached animation assets were deployed using our proprietry previs crowd system, and handheld "Saving Private Ryan" style camera work was achieved on this sequence.
We can edit together storyboards creating an animatic which provides a sense of timing and movement to the flow of a sequence. The animatics can than be fleshed out with previs, moving a sequence from concept to reality, whilst discovering the optimal creative and technical solutions for any shot. Adding sound effects and music enhances the storytelling and overall experience.
Digital Set Modelling
Working closely with the art department and concept artists we translate their drawings and designs into 3D virtual models suitable for efficient previs production. To be used as a design development tool or as a way to establish the constraints of a built set or real life location, it can show the crew any troublesome areas whilst also showing what can and can’t be seen though real-world lenses within the computer.
We also build digital characters that we might need for actors, creatures, vehicles and props.
Scene / Sequence Creation
Once layout is agreed, we begin to block out animations of the actors, and camera moves, manipulating the virtual camera in accordance with real world limits and specifications. At Nvizage we have spent a lot of time ensuring our digital camera move in the correct manner just like real film cameras, whether they are mounted on dollies, cranes or hand held.
Our models are built to the correct scale, and with the correct camera film back settings and the appropriate focal length we can assemble accurate, and asethically pleasing compositions.
Nvizage spent nine months producing stereoscopic previs for Hugo Cabret. Constant refinement to our virtual stereo camera rigs enables us to exploit this exciting aspect of filmmaking. Our pipeline supports the option to receive Inter Ocular and Convergence data recorded from live action material straight in to our virtual cameras, this is beneficial for producing accurate corresponding stereo post-vis content.
The opportunity to design and craft stereo camera moves in previs is essential for the realisation of great stereography and technical planning.
Essentially a shot breakdown, we provide all the information required to recreate a shot for real on set or location. In addition to our animations, we create detailed diagrams that contain essential camera data as well dimensioned scene layouts for each shot from start to finish. So whether a shot involves visual effects components, green screen, sections of the set that can be wild, or complex camera or stunt/actor movement we can clearly illustrate this for replication in the real world.
We are able to take conceptual illustrations, drawings and technical plans to the next level. Whether it be the latest Badpod or a Wonka bar, we can accurately model them in 3D.
Depending on the reason for the study we can analyse movements and produce animations of any moving parts, apply colour, texturing and lighting to produce highly realistic simulations. Production Designers, SFX units, construction units, and Prop units can further evaluate their visions - if they need to be revised for practical limitations and whether their ideas can be made in the real world. This is a rapid and cost effective environment, and the benefits are undeniable.
Nvizage creates real-time (or near real-time) visualizations on location to help the director, cinematographer, visual effects supervisor, and crew quickly evaluate captured imagery. This includes the use of techniques that can synchronize and composite live photography with 2D or 3D virtual elements for immediate visual feedback.
On many shows Nvizage has been asked to provide onset systems where we have been able to replace the view of green screen backgrounds with in exchange for detailed virtual environments. On Prince of Persia we extended the giant CG crystal in the Alamut chamber, beyond the limits of the practical set, which aided camera framing on wide crane shots.
As part of our postvis package we combine digital elements and production photography to help validate footage selection, provide place-holder shots for editorial, and refine effects design. Edits incorporating postvis sequences are often shown to test audiences for feedback, and to producers and visual effects vendors for planning and budgeting.
Nvizage have recently been involved in postvis work on Alice in Wonderland, The Dark Knight and Prince of Persia.