It’s Here! It’s There! It’s Everywhere…. Virtual Production …. AI.. At NAB 2023!

nab trade show unreal virtual production Apr 24, 2023

Virtual production and AI were the Roy Kents of the NAB 100th year celebration last week in Las Vegas. Everywhere you looked, someone was talking about these hot topics. The Hollywood Reporter pointed out that, “attendees would have been hard-pressed to go anywhere in the vast exhibition halls, where 1,200 companies featured their latest technologies, and not see at least one LED wall or related demonstration.”  With both the Olympics and a Presidential election coming up next year, it’s no wonder why! The world of broadcast is changing at an unprecedented rate and if you’re in the broadcast biz you’ll have to quickly adopt these new technologies or risk getting left behind! How exactly do virtual production and AI fit into the broadcast model? Let’s take a look.


A Few AI Tool Highlights

One exhibitor, Adobe, showed a new beta version of Premiere Pro that included an AI-driven, text-based editing tool developed to analyze and transcribe clips. (2).


Vū announced Virtual Studio - ”a new, comprehensive suite of generative virtual production software applications designed to, the company says, ‘catapult studios and filmmakers into a new era of immersive storytelling, creative visualization and production for the virtual world.’”


Unreal Engine and Virtual Production

At a meetup of its partners, Epic Games hinted again that Project Avalanche, a tool to help Broadcasters with Motion Graphics in real time, is continuing to be developed.  Unreal Engine is, of course, the program widely used on the LED walls, so it got a lot of attention at NAB. 


CG Pro, an Unreal Authorized Training Center, and Vu Studios teamed up to create back-to-back workshops demonstrating the processes of virtual production and how best to light an LED wall.  CG Pro also teamed up with Magicbox in the central exhibit hall to transport viewers to a futuristic Cyber Tokyo virtual set. 

Caught on Camera! 

Sony introduced a plugin that allows its industry leading Venice cameras to be virtually inside of Unreal.  For a deeper dive into this tech, check out this quick video.  Robotics, already a mainstay of the industry and its camera operators, are improving this field rapidly as well.  


It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s… the Cloud! 

Virtual production is keeping its head in the cloud, with new launches from several companies enabling more efficient and cost-effective workflows. By leveraging the power of cloud computing, virtual production teams will collaborate on the creation of complex virtual environments and characters in real-time, from anywhere in the world.


Cloud-based virtual production workflows typically involve the use of specialized software tools for 3D modeling, animation, and real-time rendering, which are hosted on remote cloud servers. These tools enable virtual production teams to create highly detailed virtual environments and characters, and to view and manipulate them in real-time using virtual cameras and other motion capture devices.


By moving the processing and rendering of these virtual environments and characters to the cloud, virtual production teams can reduce the need for expensive on-premises hardware and software, and can scale their production capacity up or down as needed. Cloud-based virtual production workflows also enable teams to collaborate more easily with other remote team members, such as animators, compositors, and visual effects artists.


Overall, virtual production in the cloud represents an exciting new frontier in film and video production, offering unprecedented levels of flexibility, scalability, and collaboration for virtual production teams.

It’s Not Easy Being Green… Or Is It?

With the advances in virtual production, it absolutely is possible to help the environment!  By creating virtual sets and environments, filmmakers can eliminate a great deal of travel by allowing actors and crew to work from different locations closer to their homes, further reducing the carbon footprint of production. As the film industry becomes increasingly focused on sustainability, virtual production is emerging as a promising solution that offers both environmental benefits and enhanced creative opportunities.


Indie Tools on the Rise

Many new innovations appeared that serve as primary tools for smaller local stations.  One example is the HTC Vive Mars FIZTrack Lens Encoder which enables studios to track their focus, zoom, and aperture to blend the output of their real and virtual cameras.


Want to Learn How to Use All These Tools?

CG Pro announced a public Broadcast and live events course with classes held on weekday mornings for those who would like to keep on the cutting edge.   This new offering is in addition to Unreal Engine and In Camera Visual Effects courses, frequently offered, which draw participants from both the film and broadcast industries.  Check the website for further information.


A special thank you

Thank you to Nvidia, Microsoft, Vu, and Magicbox for allowing CG Pro to play in such an exciting sandbox with you at NAB2023!