DEFINITION January 2022 – Web


can’t achieve similar results with smaller screens and some creative rigging. We design and supply to both permanent fixed volumes and also many ‘pop-up’, one-off set-ups – and there really is no specific rule. The choice of screen layout is dependent on budget, length of shoot, size of set, etc. It’s often difficult for productions that are new to using LED to get their heads around – there is no one-size-fits-all solution. KAESTNER: This question is very project- specific, and can only really be answered by the requirements of the show. The demands for a passing background, as seen from the inside of a driving train, are different from someone standing in a dusk or dawn environment. The choice is determined by the creative and visual needs, combined with the technological factors of camera body, lenses, LED panels and display server technology. If you carefully examine all aspects of the project, you will quickly narrow down the choice to a few possibilities. This highlights one of the most important aspects of virtual production: plan carefully and stick to it, otherwise you risk being utterly disappointed. HOCHMAN: Yes, for sure. The larger the volume, the more light you have to work with. However, this is also highly dependent on what a production requires. A single LED wall is relatively easy to move around and put where needed, which is highly cost-effective. Additionally, assets can be made for the camera frustum if shots are planned well. Or simple plate shots will work. A volume is the ultimate in all-things-for-everyone, but also requires much more upfront modelling and content work. The choice really depends on what a DP needs to get out of the shot. Volumes are the buzz right now, yet I suspect we will start to see

“In an ideal world, the use case for LED would be matched in advance to the needs of the production. Ultimately, everything comes down to budget”

thousands of single walls deployed as well. Heck, we did single walls over 15 years ago! LEVY: Absolutely, it has a huge impact on the overall base illumination within the volume, and the achievable resolution of reflections on objects. The choice comes down to application and the type of action you plan to capture. Large scenes with highly reflective objects (cars, for example) require an LED volume which can provide 360° coverage. For smaller scenes covering dialogue with few or small reflective objects, LED volume is less of a priority. PRAK: First of all, it’s good to consider what your production wants, depending on the type of shoots, camera standpoints and set design. Small sets will fit easily within the camera angle – and large sets require a bigger LED volume to make them fit the background. A single LED wall will generate light from one side only (mostly from behind) – this might work for a lot of shoots or production types. Also, if you use XR, you don’t need a large LED volume, since it will be extended by the XR environment. A curved or 270-360° volume will emit light from more angles, which might result in a more natural look and feel. The light will be ambient, catching the actor/scene from different angles. There are also many in-between solutions, like using an LED ceiling or side fills. The light emitted from the virtual background gives the scene a very real look. LED panels are capable of

emitting light at a high brightness, which is favourable in any studio environment. HAMILL: Yes, absolutely. In an ideal world, the use case for LED would be matched in advance to the needs of the production. Ultimately, everything comes down to budget, and that’s where we work with clients ahead of arriving on- set, to ensure they aren’t wasting money on unnecessary equipment. We have deployed a range of installations, from small, straight rear walls, to fully enclosed internal cubes (flown, and therefore able to drop in around the subject); from straight rear walls with 90° returns, to horseshoe-shaped volumes, all in varying heights and linear lengths. Wraparound 270–360° screens are great for lighting larger sets which need full coverage from virtual backgrounds, allowing cinematographers to get panning shots that aren’t achievable with small set-ups. If light is the focus and the LED is not being used in-camera, a lower- resolution panel like the Roe Carbon 5 is a sensible choice – both for budget and the amount of light they emit (CB5 are high- brightness, capable of up to 6000 nits). Introducing additional movable sections of LED on dollies in lower- resolution products can also help to target specific areas, with levels of brightness unachievable by finer-pitch products in the 1mm/2mm range. If reflections are key (such as for car scenes), consider resolution versus brightness. In smaller volumes, where we have created ceilings that can be lowered in front of the rear wall, we have chosen the Roe Diamond 2.6mm or Roe Carbon 3.7mm. In larger volumes, with a fixed ceiling nine metres off the ground, the Roe Carbon 5.7mm has been more cost-effective at such a scale – and rigged far enough away that pixelation is not an issue. Don’t miss our February issue, where Part 2 continues this interview, and we discuss how machine learning and AI techniques can evolve virtual production technology. We’ll explore how colourimetry between camera and display can be mastered to avoid metamerism. And our experts will conclude by telling us what’s next for this groundbreaking tech – particularly its evolution, democratisation and industry acceptance.


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