Bringing the Magic to Virtual Production

trade show virtual production May 09, 2023
CG Pro Early Edition with Partners Magicbox, Microsoft, and Nvidia

I was recently on a call with a prospective student who works in film in the art department. He shared that he feels like he needs to know CG if he wants to stay relevant, but he has heard that virtual production sets and studios are cost prohibitive especially when you talk about LED vs green screen. While he may not be wrong, the ways of virtual production are changing in a fun and positive way and at a rapid rate! 

Fortunately, we had just wrapped a project with Magicbox at NAB. I had also just watched Early Edition with Microsoft and NVIDIA - The New Era of Virtual Production which featured Magicbox CEO & co-founder Brian Nowac. Suffice it to say, I was armed to the teeth with knowledge and I was excited to share it! The changes coming to virtual production are fascinating and level the playing field. Or, as Brian says in the above referenced video, “democratizes virtual production.” 

When we were at NAB a couple of weeks ago, we had the honor of working with one of our partners, Magicbox, creating a scene that folks could immerse themselves in. We were able to show attendees what a mobile virtual production environment looks like. We highlighted producing in this space and real time rendering. This means you can have a virtual production environment literally anywhere! And I mean anywhere, because every Magicbox truck is equipped with cloud connectivity. 

With mobile virtual production you have better control: on your finished product, your time, safety protocols, your costs, and it’s also better for the environment. Hollywood has a huge carbon footprint, we’ll save just how extensive for another post, but one Magicbox’s core pillar is sustainability with a significantly lower carbon footprint than a full out on-site shoot. 

So who is already taking advantage of these types of technologies? Obviously, the Marvel and Star Wars franchises come to mind as well as series like The Last of Us and Stranger Things.  Would you be surprised to learn that the NCAA tournament uses an LED volume to interview star players before the game? We’re currently training news agencies on how to best integrate Unreal Engine and build “worlds” for the 2024 elections. Ad agencies are using them to make “bigger” commercials with more cost effective budgets by avoiding the time and expense of shooting on site. Imagine what this technology can do for smaller budget films.

In closing, I’ll share a quote from Travis Gorman who was responsible for creating the motion graphics used in the Magicbox’s NAB presentation that was presented by Microsoft and Nvidia: 

“Working alongside Scott (Rosekrans of Zoic Studios), we were able to design and refine the background texture elements that were used in the virtual studio monitors that would sit behind the talent. I used After Effects to produce the looping elements as well as the lower thirds graphics and title intros that met the sponsor’s branding guidelines. My intent was to create subtle graphics that would appeal to the target audience.

I am particularly proud of the fact that we were able to achieve all of this with a quick turnaround time. One of the reasons for our success was the use of cutting-edge technology such as Unreal Engine. This technology is rapidly improving the turnaround time for producing compelling background environments like the one Scott was able to produce using Unreal and Epic Marketplace for Magicbox’s mobile studio. It was truly amazing to see how fast this technology can help us create high-quality visuals and achieve our project goals within the given deadline.”

To see Travis and Scott’s work as well as hear more from Brian, check out the Early Edition with Microsoft and NVIDIA - The New Era of Virtual Production here.