Definition May 2021 - Web


VIRTUAL HORIZONS Ever-advancing capture tools are merging on-set action and post-production VFX more than ever. We get the overview of modern innovations

Currently, there are limitations with pixel density, leaving options of a shallow depth-of-field and soft background, or a composite later on. It’s showing much promise across the board, but green screen remains the most viable option. Moreover, some of the same tracking tools are also being applied there. “It comes back to having a real-time position of the main camera,” Lawrence explains. “There have been cameras before with gyroscopic positional sensors, but there was never a significant outlet for it. Now, there are systems like Ncam that use that data to offer visualisation, meaning you can understand what’s on a green screen. “With the LED arrays, everyone can see what’s on them, but this does offer the ability to gauge the mood of a green screen scene. The DOP can light it beautifully, for example, thanks to this feedback. It’s becoming really critical for good filmcraft.” While this takes care of an actor’s surroundings, what about the actors themselves? Well, one development in performance capture is camera arrays. “You typically have a small process stage with an arcing array of five to seven movie cameras,” Lawrence tells us. “When your actors perform in there, it captures their faces around that arc, and we can solve that in a computer to create very high-fidelity


F ilmmaking technology is colliding in beautiful ways. Tools are being developed that alter the gamut of workflows (on set and in post), entirely new roles and processes are being devised, and new creative potential is being unlocked. Consider it a cinematic singularity. In our January issue, we explored HDR and its ability to combine cinematography and editing in ways previously unseen. Now, the word of the day is capture. It’s an area that’s seen innovation after innovation, and has been truly transformative for VFX. But how does that landscape look today? Hot off the back of an Oscar nod for his work on The ABOVE For The Midnight Sky, Chris Lawrence and the team captured Felicity Jones’ face using a camera array, then placed it on to a body double for moments that would have been physically impossible for her. Courtesy of Framestore

Midnight Sky , VFX supervisor at Framestore, Chris Lawrence, sheds some light. “One of the big recent breakthroughs is LED arrays,” he explains. Definition covered this topic from a DOP perspective in the January issue, but its use is evidently shaping production elsewhere, too. “It’s a technique that was really brought to the forefront on The Mandalorian , and one we implemented on The Midnight Sky . At its simplest, it could just be a photo on the screens, or it could be CGI or a set of plates you captured elsewhere,” Lawrence says. “What’s clever with the LED is that you can move the background through the illusion of parallax to create more depth. That happens by tracking the motion picture camera, typically with infrared motion capture cameras. You can place it at any depth, even one that’s further away than you’ve got the studio space for.”

14 DEF I N I T ION | MAY 202 1

Powered by