Definition August 2024 - Web


Definition got an exclusive look at Disguise’s VP Accelerator , an initiative teaching virtual production to creatives at any stage of their career THE NEW FRONT I ER WORDS Katie Kasperson

OUT OF THIS WORLD On-site training at MARS Volume ensures students are prepared to tackle real-world VP hurdles in Unreal Engine. Next, the ‘classroom’ phase involves an instructor – in this case, Disguise’s global head of training Alex Lapthorne – who takes the cohort through more advanced concepts. N ear the north-west end of virtual production locations complete with a curved LED wall and ceiling, Stype camera-tracking systems and Disguise media servers. There, Disguise wrapped up its 23rd VP Accelerator programme, a training course providing hands-on experience with the latest tech, bridging both existing and anticipated skills gaps. The Accelerator course takes a three- pronged approach. Firstly, in the ‘learn’ phase, students complete online tutorials London’s Central line lies MARS Volume – one of the UK’s largest

Finally, the ‘practical’ phase invites students to the MARS facility for three days of immersive studio experience led by vice president of VP Addy Ghani. While VP – like generative AI – is a ‘shiny new toy’, says Ghani, it’s not meant to replace any single aspect of existing workflows; it’s simply another tool in the arsenal. Ghani compares it to the advent of digital cine cameras, acknowledging there will always be some resistance to new technologies, especially for mid- career creatives. But VP’s many benefits – such as a reduced carbon footprint, artistic flexibility and the option for a nine-to-five workday – are in its favour. VP is at a critical juncture; still in its early stages, “some of these technologies were invented yesterday,” summarises Lapthorne, who notes that – thanks to its current rarity – VP expertise is not only highly desirable but also generously compensated. The Accelerator, he explains, is excellent value for money,

costing just a fraction of the price of a full film course on a fast-tracked time frame. Plus, with the convergence of the creative industries, the skills are transferable across film and high-end TV, broadcast, game design and so on. The course addresses this, letting students try their hand at previsualisation, operation, lighting and more – the full package. On the programme’s final afternoon, students worked within outdoor and indoor environments. The first was a nighttime city scenescape with virtual smoke and rain, animated elements, as well as a car in the foreground to simulate driving. As Ghani and the Unreal operator manipulated the lighting, Lapthorne noted how the reflections changed on the car’s exterior – something that’s achievable, although more difficult to do with a green screen. “People always say ‘fix it in post’,” explains Lapthorne. With VP, fixes can occur in camera and in real time. While VP has its limitations – “you wouldn’t shoot an entire film on an LED volume,” argues Lapthorne – it’s a question of how it’s used, which often comes down to creative problem- solving. That’s what Ghani, Lapthorne and the rest of the Disguise team are ultimately trying to teach. Technology is constantly evolving, and it’s a missed opportunity not to embrace it.

Learn more about Disguise’s VP Accelerator programme at



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