How does the studio directly produce the final shot? (2)

2020-06-17

Behind The Scenes

The rising expressive power of Real-time rendering

Jon Favreau's biggest concern about The Mandalorian is whether the game engine can reach the visual effect rendering level of Star Wars on the TV budget. But when he saw a piece of sand similar to episode 2, he abandoned the thought.

Sandy environment is built with assets scanned with photos and rendered in real-time

In the virtual studio, all the scene elements and lights can be switched and upgraded freely, and the feel of virtual reality is maintained. Part of the virtual environment of The Mandalorian directly uses assets created by Unreal Engine for some video games, saving a lot of asset construction time and opening up the possibility of asset sharing between the two industries.

Real-time rendering has been able to better present the highly reflective materials often involved in science fiction dramas

The virtual scenes on the set sometimes deceive the eyes of the people on the scene. Jon Favreau said, "There was a person who came to the studio and said,'I thought you wouldn't build the whole scene here.' I said, no, we didn't build here, in fact, there only have tables.' Because the LED wall rendering is based on a camera, there is parallax. But even if you look at it casually next to you, you will still think that you are watching a live-action scene. "

Entering the virtual studio, the actor has entered the virtual world and the final scene

The changes of Hollywood led by virtual production technology

In addition to accelerating the cycle and increasing the turnover of the budget, virtual production has also brought revolutionary convenience to actors and other teams. Actors can see the situation of the environment in real-time to perform and interact.

"This not only helps the cinematography but also helps the actors understand the surroundings, such as the horizon. It also provides interactive lighting", Jon Favreau described it as “a huge breakthrough”.

Virtual production can also help fantasy characters interact with real people

In addition to The Mandalorian, movie projects such as Lion King and Fantasy Forest have already begun to use game engines to produce movies, but they are still mainly in the visual preview stage.

Besides, Steven Spielberg and Denis Villeneuve used Unity to help achieve their visual effects in the production of Number One Player and Blade Runner 2049 respectively. This method is gradually replacing the usual storyboard production method similar to hand-drawn comic books.

Spielberg stood on the monitor to view the real-time synthesis of the shooting content

In the virtual production process, VR technology is rapidly becoming a viable option for large studios and production companies. Director Jon Favreau used a lot of virtual reality technology in the recent remake of the live-action movie The Lion King, which fundamentally created the entire virtual reality world of the movie.

Lion King uses a lot of real-time virtual preview technology

The popularization of virtual production technology

In terms of budget, virtual production and LED display equipment are still relatively expensive at this stage.  

Complete real-time compositing and film production at a lower cost

Jon Favreau indicated that virtual production technology is a major leap forward in the film industry, allowing creators to make creative decisions before the project starts, rather than reinventing the process or after completion. Nowadays, more people can see the appearance of the lens directly during cinematography. More people can contribute their own ideas and learn from each other because they can see the final idea in advance.

"In the past, when you went to a scene and left the green screen, you no longer care about it. But now, we have so many talented people and have accumulated more than one hundred years of filmmaking experience. Why should we give up just because we change the shooting system? Let’s continue to inherit the skills of film artists and develop tools that adapt to the times.”

Virtual production technology will gradually become the routine process of film production in the future


Virtual Production:Past, Present, and Future(3)

2020-06-09

Behind The Scenes

The Evolution of Virtual Production

Virtual production applied in the industry in early times with less coverage. In the early 1990s, Hollywood used virtual production to make dynamic storyboards, which is the current Previz.

360 degree super static instant short technique used in The Matrix

Titanic was released in the United States on December 19, 1997, followed by Matrix in 1999, Matrix 2 and Matrix 3 in 2003, and Transformers 1 in 2007 and its sequels. These films had made a good application and promotion of virtual production, especially the use of Motion Capture and Motion Control.

Combination of motion capture and real-time rendering

Virtual production is well known to the audience after the release of Avatar in 2009.

On December 16, 2009, Avatar and its Pandora brought the audience a beautiful feeling, making the virtual production familiar to the public. The director can directly see the compositing scenes instead of the traditional green screen in the monitor, which makes it refreshing.

Avatar takes virtual production to the mainstream

When the whole movie is shot on a green or blue background, there are more than 2000 scenes need to have post-production, including editing, VFX, sound and others; and the staff needs to match the shots one by one according to the script description. Hence, demands have driven the development of technology. After Avatar was completed, virtual production was integrated into a commercial module.

The Outlook of Virtual Production

Although there are many technical problems that need to be improved for virtual production, the development trend has been established and will be prosperous with the rising trend of the global box office.

The live version of The Lion King fully uses virtual production

The driving effect of Hollywood VFX films has made more and more directors and filmmakers recognize and contact this field, and use this new technology in their creation.

A material library for virtual production is needed in the near future.

Cultural and historical monuments, natural sceneries, and others have already become frequent visitors to the movie screen. However, all cinematography must go to the site at a high cost. The schedule of the actors is also difficult to coordinate.

Real-time compositing scenes in the monitor

Virtual production can solve the problem and reduce production costs.

For example, when shooting the Colosseum in ancient Rome by virtual production, the actors perform in the virtual shed, directly utilizing the scene of the beast in the material library for cinematography.

Movies are the art of creation. Using photos as a background can not meet the need for cinematography technology. A three-dimensional model needs to be built with real textures. Light simulation, such as early morning, dusk, or noon effect, can also be performed as needed. Then put them into the model library, transfer to the virtual production system according to the needs of creation, and let the camera flexibly choose the required angle to shoot according to the needs of the script.

The establishment of the material library is a huge digital project, which not only includes all kinds of materials but also enables clear retrieval and calling. This project requires continuous investment and construction. We can build a framework through special groups, formulate technical standards, and incorporate the conformity into the database. We can also commercialize it for a fee to make this material library enter a healthy development track and grow slowly.

Only green screen props are needed to simulate the interaction with the virtual scenes

In the future, more and more traditional studios will be transformed into virtual studios. Within the scope of human control, 24 hours of cinematography can be provided and will not delay due to any weather.

Here is a common sense of virtual production. The scenes built by traditional studios are fixed. The replacement of reality scenes takes one day or a few days, but that of the virtual scene only takes a few minutes. In the performance area, the modules can be assembled outside the venue in advance in the studio.

The production of Disney's Mandalorian brings virtual production into the LED era

The actor's schedule is very tight. Any accident, such as illness, injury, and so on, will disrupt the normal cinematography plan. The virtual production will make the scenes in the script in advance, and quickly call different scenes according to changes, coordinating the process of the crew to make filming more humane and more efficient.

Virtual production has a very good prospect. The continuous improvement of virtual production builds a proper platform to improve the quality of filming. Creativity can be presented in a better way, bringing audiences a better viewing experience.


Virtual Production:Past, Present, and Future(2)

2020-06-08

Behind The Scenes

The Birth of Virtual Production

From the perspective of time and popularity of the application, the application of TV should be earlier than that of movies.

In 1978, Eugene L. proposed the concept of "Electronic Studio Setting", pointing out that future programming can be completed in an empty studio with only personnel and cameras, and the sets and props are automatically produced by electronic systems.

Virtual studio technology widely used by current mainstream TV media

After 1992, virtual studio technology realized. As a new technology, the virtual studio became a hotspot in TV studio technology. At the IBC exhibition in 1994, the virtual studio technology debuted in various TV broadcasts.

Virtual background can be changed with the lens in the virtual studio

The Virtual Studio System (VSS) is a new TV program production system that has emerged in recent years with the rapid development of computer technology and chroma key.

F1 program presents a demonstration effect through virtual scenes and props

In the VSS, the position and scenes of the cinematography are transmitted to the virtual system in real-time. The green screen (or blue screen) is cleared by chroma key to replace the pre-made virtual three-dimensional space model. Then the host or actor of the picture emerges with the three-dimensional virtual scene into a new picture. Finally, the compositing video can be displayed on the TV in real-time.

Using virtual studio technology for remote virtual dialogue

Actually, the virtual scene does not exist in reality, but the technology that seamlessly integrates with the real shot characters makes the virtual studio a reality.

The world's first reality show using virtual production


Virtual Production:Past, Present, and Future(1)

2020-06-05

Behind The Scenes

This sharing is collected by the TPN-Accredited cloud render farm, Fox Renderfarm. We hope that can help you in learning knowledge in Film and TV production.

Virtual Production is an emerging film and TV production system, including a variety of computer-aided film production methods designed to enhance innovation and time-saving. With the help of real-time software such as Unreal Engine, traditional linear processes can be transformed into parallel processes, blurring the boundaries between pre-production, production, and post-production, making the entire process more fluid and collaborative.

Virtual production in real-time LED video wall

Since Avatar released in 2009, virtual production emerged as a new field from the digital revolution of the film industry, bringing a new perspective to viewers and professionals.

The virtual production of Avatar

The large-scale use of green screen(or blue screen) filmmaking has made it more and more important for directors to see the real-time composition of performance and virtual space. As directors could implement instant guidance on live shooting by virtual production, the technology is gradually applied to production.

Real-time combination in the green screen

The Definition of Virtual Production

Let’s describe virtual production simply. When the actor performs in front of the green screen (or blue screen), the screen is directly replaced by the virtual scene made in advance. Then the director’s monitor is presented with scenes in real-time composition which can only see in the late stage of the production process. This is called virtual production.

Virtual production sets and motion capture environments

The History of Virtual Production

The development of virtual production is inseparable from the progress of computer technology. In the 1940s and 1950s, computers were in the mainframe stage. In the 1960s and 1970s, they gradually transformed into small computers. Owing to the limitations of the hardware, software, and talent base, virtual production carried forward slowly during this period.

IBM-PC launched by IBM

Microsoft was founded in 1975, and later developed the Windows operating system; Apple was established in 1976, using Apple's own System x.xx/Mac OS operating system; in 1981, IBM introduced IBM-PC, which greatly simplified the hardware architecture and oriented ordinary people. Because the development of the operating system is still in the DOS stage at this time, the speed of popularization is still very slow.

Spielberg on the monitor to view the virtual production effect of Number One Player

In 1982, SGI was established in the United States. Jurassic Park, Titanic, Toy Story, The Lord of the Rings, and others are all having a close connection with it.

The Lord of the Rings set & VFX compositing

In 1995, SGI acquired Alias Wavefront, which is the predecessor of MAYA software. In 1991, Microsoft introduced the Windows 3.0 multi-language version of the operating system. A few years later, Win95 was launched, realizing a real graphical operating interface. Hence, the development of computers entered the fast lane.


Behind the Scenes: Spy House Production (3)

2020-06-04

Behind The Scenes

Next, we will share the production process of two other materials:

Making wood material

Pay attention to the following points when making wooden materials:

• When you split the UV, try to place the squares as much as possible to ensure that the post-texture image will not be distorted.

• It is also necessary to consider the utilization rate of UV space and try to give priority to the things you can see, which can improve the quality of the material.

The texture of the wooden structure is simple to produce, and it is necessary to find a lot of references that combine with the situation of the scene. For example, what does the wooden structure look like in an underground wet environment for a long time? Or the wood in this environment is more corroded? So to make such a feeling, a lot of references is very important.

Substance Painter wood texture production

• Import the baked Normal stickers and prepared materials into Substance Painter. Before creating something, create two fill layers, leaving only the Color option. One layer puts the AO diagram on the Color and adjusts to a positive overlay, which is used to improve the dark color. Another layer puts the Curvature map on Color and adjusts to Overlay, which is used to improve the bright color of the edge. After these operations are completed, the production of the texture begins.

Pay attention to the production of wooden texture: Consider the actual situation of the scene. Take the scene we made (spy house) as an example. For a long time in a dark and humid environment, the corrosion will be relatively serious. Afterward, it should be noted that the edges of the wood will not be particularly bright. The bright edges of the wear marks will also be darker, and then the scratches and the wear of the places where they are often used. A little brightness is needed here. Finally, there is dust accumulation and stains in places that are not often encountered. After these things are done, you can basically get a good real texture.

The material for making paper and book

When making a single-page paper with no thickness, please pay attention to the following points:

  1. When you split the UV, try to place the square as far as possible to ensure that the textures in the later period will not be distorted.

  2. The texture of the paper is simple to produce, without Hight Polygon, just baking Low Polygon Normal.

How to make paper in Substance Painter:

Import the baked Normal map and prepared materials into Substance Painter. Create a layer (unfilled layer), select Color for the material and put the material in Base Color, and select None for UV Wrap. In F1 3D/2D mode, place the picture material in the corresponding position.

Just pay attention to the book texture production: from the beginning, it is necessary to distinguish between the shell and the content. If it is made into one, it will not be easy to separate when making the texture.

Marmoset Toolbag 3 rendering

Finally imported into Marmoset Toolbag 3 for rendering, the first is to layout the light source, choose to add an HDR suitable for the scene, adjust the Child Light to the appropriate position to make the model produce a 45-degree shadow.

Because the scene is larger, more lights are added, but when rendering, pay attention to adjusting the size and illumination range of those fill lights to prevent the mutual influence of light.

I hope our learning and sharing can help you, thank you.


Behind the Scenes: Spy House Production (2)

2020-06-03

Behind The Scenes

Material production

After baking all normals, AO, and curvature, import Substance Painter to make materials. It is worth noting that the normals baked in Marmoset Toolbag 3 and Maya use OpenGL mode in Substance Painter, and the normals baked in 3ds Max use DirectX mode. The first step after successfully importing the model must be to check whether the normal direction is correct.

After successful import, the remaining textures are baked in the texture set-baking model texture.

The following uses the sofa leather material to share the basic process of the material: the production of sofa leather material.

Inherent color of the leather

Choose a suitable material map and paste it in the color channel, adjust other parameters appropriately to make the effect more natural

Bump height

Create a new fill layer to keep the height channel, paste the height map corresponding to the background color layer, and add Level to adjust the height. At the same time, add anchor points to ensure that the color changes with the height.

AO layer

The AO diagram of the model pasted in the AO channel is that the dark parts of the edges are deepened, and the bumps are more three-dimensional.

Roughness

Adjust the roughness of the sofa surface. Frequent contact with objects will wear more, such as the edge of the cushion, the inner and upper sides of the armrest, the bottom of the sofa, the top of the backrest, etc. Grunge textures can be added to make the effect more natural.

The edge fades

Create a fill layer and add a generator to produce a faded edge wear effect. Adding only one generator effect will be very stiff. Add a few more layers to interrupt the continuous effect to make the wear more natural, and finally, add hand-painted details.

Details added

Use the Grunge map to add scratches, stains, and other details to the surface.

Dust

There are two kinds of dust: dust accumulated in corners and trace dust on the surface. Create a fill layer to leave the color, roughness, and height, and then use the generator to calculate the dust position adjustment parameters to make the effect natural, and you can appropriately add hand-painted details.

Gap treatment

Manually add black to deal with gaps and other details.


White Snake’s Special Effects Behind The Scenes And Animated Performances

White Snake’s Special Effects Behind The Scenes And Animated Performances

2019-03-22

White Snake

Recently, the Chinese animation circle has caused a hot discussion about White Snake.

As an original animated film with folk legends and national style aesthetics, White Snake’ box office has been attacked twice since the release of the week. Next, we will start to reveal the special effects and animation performance behind the scenes.

Role display

Animator behind-the-scenes performance

Behind the scenes special effects production secret

This lens special effect simulates the weightless environment in the water. The main difficulties are the high-speed movement and special effects of the character. The dynamics of the fabric are in line with the environment. Different solutions were tested for this effect, hitting the fluid and emitting fluid from the character's body. Finally, the advantages of both are combined as the final solution.

In addition, the character itself has created a special force field to make the surrounding ink speed change more and back to the role action. Finally, a suitable physical environment is set for the ink, instead of the default vacuum environment to ensure that the dynamics are relatively correct.

In the early stage of role effects, a large number of tests and asset classifications were carried out. The force field expression noise map and some self-developed tools were used to simulate and control the underwater state. After multiple versions of the iterative test, the final result was achieved.

In this lens, the difficulty in the absorption of the beads is the irregular movement and shape. In order to be dynamic and natural and conform to the needs of the shape, the special effects have developed a complex force field to guide the movement of particles and fluids as the main body, and on this basis, 10 layers of elements are derived to enrich the effect. Finally, the lighting department synthesizes the final result.

In the lens of the Pool, the creative team needs to show a very strange and evil feeling. Special effects use flip to achieve the dynamics of the pool water. According to the dynamic processing into as much information as possible, the particles, volume, and geometry are converted into renderable layers based on these data, and finally the final result is achieved in the synthesis.
Recently, the Chinese animation circle has caused a hot discussion about White Snake.

As an original animated film with folk legends and national style aesthetics, White Snake’ box office has been attacked twice since the release of the week. Next, we will start to reveal the special effects and animation performance behind the scenes.

Role display

Animator behind-the-scenes performance

Behind the scenes special effects production secret

This lens special effect simulates the weightless environment in the water. The main difficulties are the high-speed movement and special effects of the character. The dynamics of the fabric are in line with the environment. Different solutions were tested for this effect, hitting the fluid and emitting fluid from the character's body. Finally, the advantages of both are combined as the final solution.

In addition, the character itself has created a special force field to make the surrounding ink speed change more and back to the role action. Finally, a suitable physical environment is set for the ink, instead of the default vacuum environment to ensure that the dynamics are relatively correct.

In the early stage of role effects, a large number of tests and asset classifications were carried out. The force field expression noise map and some self-developed tools were used to simulate and control the underwater state. After multiple versions of the iterative test, the final result was achieved.

In this lens, the difficulty in the absorption of the beads is the irregular movement and shape. In order to be dynamic and natural and conform to the needs of the shape, the special effects have developed a complex force field to guide the movement of particles and fluids as the main body, and on this basis, 10 layers of elements are derived to enrich the effect. Finally, the lighting department synthesizes the final result.

In the lens of the Pool, the creative team needs to show a very strange and evil feeling. Special effects use flip to achieve the dynamics of the pool water. According to the dynamic processing into as much information as possible, the particles, volume, and geometry are converted into renderable layers based on these data, and finally the final result is achieved in the synthesis.


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