The Top 10 Reasons to Use Virtual Production for Your Next Video
Small Businesses Are Leveraging Virtual Production to Maximize Their Creative Output for Marketing
It’s no secret that rising costs are always a factor for everyone in business. Your dollar is worth more today than what it will be worth tomorrow. Utilizing video is one of the best ways to get your message in front of the people who you want to take action. But staying competitive in a world that demands more content, more variety, and more creativity can feel like running on a treadmill from hell. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels then I want to introduce you to a new video production solution that is rapidly growing in popularity for both its efficiency and its flexibility. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you virtual production.
Virtual production has gained massive popularity in the video production industry over the past few years with more and more shows, films, and commercials adapting this incredible technology into their creative arsenals. If you’ve ever watched shows like The Mandalorian on Disney+, the 2022 release of The Batman, you’ve witnessed examples of virtual production. Other examples, such as this one featuring a virtual commercial shoot for McDonald’s, highlight the immediate advantages.
Here are 10 reasons to consider reaching out to Grassfire to start a conversation about how to utilize our virtual production services for your business.
1. Decreased Production Costs
Getting a full crew together for a day of production on set can be costly depending on the requirements for the shoot. Where this becomes overly burdensome is when multiple days of production are required to accommodate a full crew which allows for extra time to set up lights, place cameras, put a temporary infrastructure in place for powering all the gear and other electronic devices on location, etc. By the time you factor in moving from one physical location to another over multiple days of shooting the costs can become astronomical. Virtual production is a great solution to this pain point because it doesn’t require a crew to move even if the location looks completely different in a video. Moving between one virtual set to another takes mere minutes. This built-in advantage allows you to cut down on costs or, with the same budget, explore more creative options for background locations in your videos.
2. Reduced Costs for Post Production
We’ve all heard the saying “We’ll just fix it in post”, right? Post production is usually where the magic happens. All the pieces come together and you can fix mistakes or add an extra layer of pizazz to your subjects. But depending on the ask, post production is notorious for driving up costs due to the tedious nature of the work and the need for specialists to handle some of the more challenging aspects of digital cleanup or visual effects. However, with virtual production you get a dual advantage in this area because of the alternate workflow during pre production.
During the pre production phase of a project, all the virtual sets are designed and built for the production phase. And then during production, you get to preview what the virtual set looks like with your actors in place in real-time during the shoot. So, the first advantage you get is that you get to provide real-time feedback to your crew which allows them to adapt the virtual set in real-time. This could potentially save hours or even days of post production work to fix a mistake or go in a different creative direction. The second advantage is that, on many projects, we can take a ‘what you see is what you get with virtual production’ approach to shooting. If everything looks good during production then little to no post production may be needed to make adjustments. And at the very least, you’re likely saving time and money in post because there will be less work than is typically required.
3. Significant Advantages for Pre Production
One of the challenges with traditional video production is the constant balancing act of providing enough pre production time for the artists to explore and prep for a shoot so that both a client and the production team is confident in what is being produced. As I just mentioned, for a virtual production, all the virtual sets or environments are built during pre production. By streamlining the creative design process, it’s much easier to iterate and adapt virtual sets to the needs of a particular project. Now, during pre production you can devote more time to exploring concept art, locations, storyboards, and animatics. And with the extra focus on planning, the possibilities for creativity during production can be elevated from a slow sizzle to a blazing inferno.
4. Access to an Unlimited Array of Real-World, Virtual Sets
Virtual sets give you unlimited creative freedom in that literally anything is possible to customize with a virtual set. Every single parameter can be dialed in and controlled to the nth degree. Need to shoot at an iconic location like the Hollywood sign, Mount Rushmore, or the Statue of Liberty? Now, you can capture the look and feel of a real-world location and repurpose it for use in a virtual environment with all sorts of variations on lighting setups and full control of attributes such as the weather. Another huge benefit of capturing a real-world set for virtual use is that you don’t have to be concerned about getting film permits to shoot at a popular location or dealing with the logistics of locking off a set for production to prevent the public from interfering. This provides the ultimate level of freedom around the setting for your production and ensures that the story ultimately drives the creative decisions and not location or budgetary constraints.
5. Virtual Sets Are Immersive and 3D
Because the sets are designed and built in 3D, they mimic the real world in very sophisticated ways. For example, you can add the perfect amount of fog to a rainy cobblestone street in historic London to achieve a cinematic look for a period drama. Or you can perch your actors on the edge of an active volcano during golden hour with complete control to stop time and freeze the sun in place for a shot that would otherwise be impossible to capture. By layering practical foreground objects on set and virtual background objects it’s possible to perform genuine magic in camera. Actors can be choreographed with animated effects in the virtual world and sell the illusion that they are interacting without the need for visual effects in post. Another added advantage is that as the cameras move on a virtual set, the virtual world responds accordingly giving the illusion that the actors are immersed within the virtual environment. The illusion is similar to looking through a window into the virtual world. As you move, your perspective through the window changes.
6. Virtual Sets Are Faster to Tweak Than Practical Sets
Practical sets have to be physically constructed in the real world. So, depending on the complexity of a practical set it could take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to construct. However, virtual sets are essentially built with the same technology as video games. With a talented creative team, it’s possible to practically tweak a virtual set in real-time during a production. What this also means is that, if a virtual set contains weather, destructible assets, or any other costly practical effects such as pyrotechnics, it’s possible to supplement or replace these in part or in full with virtual assets. In a complex shot, doing a take and resetting can take time and a toll on a crew, but with virtual production you can reset almost instantly take after take.
7. Real-time Feedback While in Production
Since virtual production allows you to capture your talent in camera while on set, another advantage is that you can preview what the final shot looks like as you’re shooting it! Any potential issues can be addressed live during a production. So, this creates a huge advantage in that you can address potentially costly problems as soon as they are noticed on set rather than in post production. This real-time feedback is often used as a creative tool for pre production as well. By utilizing a rough version of a virtual set, it’s possible to ‘virtually scout’ locations quickly to explore ideas without having to commit a lot of creative development time to a specific direction.
8. In-Camera Visual Effects (ICVFX)
In-Camera Visual Effects (ICVFX) are visual effects that are captured during the time of recording on set along with the other principal photography. This is in stark contrast to the traditional visual effects workflow where all the visual effects are created after production has wrapped in post production. While it’s not possible to utilize ICVFX for all the effects in a production, it definitely brings a huge advantage to the project.
As with many other areas of virtual production, the main benefit of capturing effects in camera is the time that is saved from having to recreate the effects by hand during post. There can also be an optical advantage to capturing these effects in camera as they can be more seamlessly integrated into the shots because of how the technical workflow for VFX is impacted by automatic capture of the effects on set. However, even if most VFX must still be added in post, utilizing the ICVFX previews on set can greatly aid all members of the cast and crew as they can better visualize how the final shot will appear in the edit.
9. Advantageous for Shooting a Series or Episodic Style Content
With virtual production, it’s easier to maintain consistency in visual elements across multiple episodes in a series. This can help create a cohesive look and feel and prevents much of the headaches that come with tracking continuity issues on set or across several shots in a sequence. Some examples of elements that can cause continuity issues are the weather, lighting, and scenery and set decorations. With virtual sets, every aspect can be dialed in right on cue and provide consistency for every shot.
10. Additional Advantages for Live Events and Presentations
Each style of video production carries its own benefits when it comes to virtual production. Live events are a great example of a format that were greatly enhanced by virtual production during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since it wasn’t possible for large audiences to meet in person, virtual live events have become the norm in recent years. This also allowed many more companies of all sizes to take advantage of the benefits of virtual sets and the freedom and flexibility that comes with being able to customize sets to fit the specific needs of a particular event. Instead of being limited by the constraints of simple video conferencing, virtual events provide a way to present information to an audience in a much more engaging way.
Have an idea around your next video that may be a good fit for virtual production? Use the form below to get in touch with us and start a conversation!
Contact Grassfire to Get a Quote for Your Next Virtual Production
Partner / Head of Animation
Brandon oversees the animation department and has more than a decade of experience as a 3d generalist and animator extraordinaire. His credits include multiple blockbuster IPs such as G.I. Joe, My Little Pony and Transformers. At Grassfire, his passion for education is utilized in developing educational content for the blog as well as professional training for creatives.
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