Virtual Production: Filming People and Products Remotely


by Graham Linfield and Daniel Allwright

Mon, 05/04/2020 - 15:43

Virtual Production: Filming People and Products Remotely

In today’s landscape, virtual photoshoots and virtual sets are becoming ever more important, while businesses are unable to get their physical products and people to real-world locations. Find out how CGI and expert knowledge can help brands to blend the digital and physical world:


Virtual Photoshoots

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Traditionally, brands have elected for shooting products and environments with practical photography as they believed it was needed, due to the fact that they make physical products, while ironically these products are normally designed and engineered using computers and digital technology in the beginning of their lifecycle - producing complex CAD (Computer Aided Design) data during the process. CAD data is very detailed and is used for engineering and manufacture, to ensure that products are produced as intended.

This CAD data can be prepared and used to create a virtual version of any product in 3D space, in assorted colours, materials, grades and trims. Using this approach of ‘virtual photography’ means full control over materials and textures, camera angles and lighting, leading to unprecedented control and delivery of a full range of photorealistic marketing materials, stills and animations without a hint of any digital construction.

These digital products can be utilised for multiple applications and customised to each use as required. They can be built into a virtual photography studio to create photorealistic lighting set-ups, or they can be composited on to real-world backgrounds and videos, replacing the need for real world green-screen technology.


Virtual Sets and Environments

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Virtual photography and film shoots don’t necessarily need to be full CGI either. Using Realtime technology within Unreal Engine 4, we can combine both CGI and physical elements to create a hybrid – allowing brands to have the authenticity of real-world people and products, while being flexible to instantly swap and replace backgrounds and interactive environments with ease on a live shoot.

Brands are able to create and personalise each set and environment, without the need for expensive travel to locations or permits and permissions, or costs associated with equipment and set-up. Virtual shoots and virtual sets allow full control of the products, people and environments to ensure that the two work seamlessly together, creating perfect assets every time.

By blending both live-action and virtual sets, creators are also able to record physical camera data into Unreal Engine 4, allowing greater flexibility to integrate into multiple pipelines for other 3D and Video editing software – giving you the ability to make post-shoot adjustments, lighting changes and colour grading fixes without the guesswork, ensuring all elements on screen fit together on screen with ease.

Brands can create videos of real-world people interacting with a digital product on a virtual set, taking away the need to build or pay for physical sets. Virtual sets give brands and creators to shoot live action using a green screen while simultaneously viewing the composited elements being integrated instantly, giving live feedback and the ability to make on-set adjustments much faster and eliminating the need to “fix it in post”.