Definition May 2021 - Web


camera to close the feedback loop, meaning directors can understand what the digital effects in their shots are going to be, while they’re shooting them. He explains: “More generally speaking, data acquisition removes the guesswork from VFX, which makes for a more faithful reproduction of whatever we’re looking at. Visual effects is like a magic trick – it works best when you can’t tell what’s real and what’s not.” Envisioning the dream, Lawrence surmises: “To me, it’s all about avoiding the green box paradigm, where you walk into a set and it’s a big, green stage. The lighting and other elements are very difficult to design in a way that integrates perfectly with the final results. But once they become something you can feed back to the DOP and director on the day, all of these technologies will allow us to do that.”

the cameras used in these arrays, it’s a case of ‘chasing resolution’. Often, this means high-res, large-sensor cinema cameras. When a computer is faced with the challenge of solving the positions of every facial detail, every little helps. So, the question is, to what degree are these new capture technologies shaping the VFX process, and what does the future hold? “The first thing we do for VFX on a shoot is define where the camera is in space. The infrared cameras are excellent at that, because they work quite accurately, even in real time. When those aren’t needed, there are other ways of matching the camera’s position – even ones as simple as a drawing with scale measurements and some supporting Lidar survey data,” he explains. “I just got a new iPhone and I’m determining whether its capabilities could supersede some of those things. An app that composites elements into augmented reality, like showing you how new tiles might look on your bathroom wall, is still virtual effects. Are we at the level of replacing old methods with new ones like this? Not just yet, but we’re getting there, even with consumer technology.” Lawrence adds: “It depends on your needs, as well. You may not require incredibly accurate tracking data for a very basic locked-off shot, and the LED array may not be the right technology for adding a fully digital character to a scene. But if you have a person in a motion-capture suit, being tracked in real time, you might be able to show your director what that looks like on a laptop, in the context of a fully lit film set.” For Lawrence, the holy grail of capture is when there’s enough feedback from the LEFT For Rebellion Studios’ Percival, DOP Eben Bolter shot against a more detailed LED array. The short film is believed to be the first ‘all virtual’ production. Courtesy of Eben Bolter

INTELLIGENT GLASS How are cameras and lenses being designed for on-set processes, and how are those processes shaping the products? To discover more, we spoke to an engineer of Cooke’s /i technology, Patricia Greene. “With the exception of the miniS4/i range, these lenses offer two means of communication: one through the lens mount and one through a side port. These channels can operate independently. “Within the dynamic data, there’s continual output from the lens’ on-board gyro, accelerometer and magnetometer sensors. This information can act as an adjunct and fill small gaps in other camera tracking methods, like rapid camera movement. We’re told that having that available is becoming very desirable to VFX teams. “Another significant step is using geometric, shading and distortion data to map our lenses. Where this would have been done by VFX teams manually, it’s readily available through the lens or via the cloud. This is in place for all spherical lenses and will soon be rolled out to our anamorphic lenses, which pose more challenges to VFX teams due to their more significant characteristics. We hope it’s feeding into creative processes in that way.”

tracking data. From that, we create digital doubles that can be seen from any angle.” This technique is utilised in cases of physical limitations. On the set of The Midnight Sky , it was used to place a heavily pregnant Felicity Jones’ head on a body double’s torso when she wasn’t able to be suspended on wires. “Think of anything where you can’t conceive of physically shooting, but want the actor’s performance at the heart of it,” Lawrence says. However, this isn’t going to overtake more traditional forms of production any time soon. “It won’t be the case that every actor stands in a black room and performs to an array – because nuances such as matching eyelines are very difficult,” he emphasises. Essentially, when it comes to

ABOVE The LED array on the set of The Midnight Sky was used in conjunction with infrared camera tracking to create a seemingly endless horizon

MAY 202 1 | DEF I N I T ION 15

Powered by