With the advancement of film shooting technology and LED display technology, especially with the popularity of the concept of the metaverse, film shooting technology is undergoing a new revolution. LED virtual production is now one of the most advanced film technologies, gradually replacing practical shooting and green screens
Recently, the highly acclaimed film Barbie, which focuses on a female perspective, has gained global attention thanks to LED virtual production. The special effects production team of Barbie completed the scene of a convertible car driving in Barbie Park using the V Stage virtual production studio located in Leavesden, England, owned by Warner Bros. As one of the largest virtual production studios in Europe, V Stage consists of over 2,600 LED panels and integrates state-of-the-art image and sound processing systems.
Virtual production allows LED display screens to have great potential in film virtual production. So how does LED virtual production work? Let’s first delve into the understanding of virtual production.
What is Virtual Production?
Virtual production refers to the use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and real-time technology to create and capture visual effects and scenes in a virtual environment. It combines live-action footage with virtual elements, allowing filmmakers to see virtual scenes, characters, and effects in real time and interact with them during the production process.
Virtual production techniques include projecting virtual backgrounds or environments onto physical sets using green screens or LED walls, using motion capture technology to record actors’ movements and apply them to virtual characters, and utilizing real-time rendering engines to generate high-quality visual effects instantly.
Both green screens and LED displays are tools used to create virtual high-resolution videos. The main difference between them is that green screens require post-production work, where various tools are used to remove the green portion and replace it with the desired virtual image, while virtual production LED walls only require the projection of images onto the screen.
- Green screen shooting
Green screen shooting used to be one of the most advanced film technologies. In green screen film production, actors and crew members have to imagine what the final shot will look like. It can be challenging to envision the final shot, especially for productions heavily reliant on green screens. This makes set design and lighting more difficult, as the cinematographer must consider the composite effect.
- Virtual production LED walls
In comparison to green screens, virtual production LED walls have many advantages and are a popular form of virtual production. Virtual production LED walls, also known as LED video walls or LED display walls, are large arrays of LED panels used for virtual production. They serve as the background or environment for shooting and displaying high-resolution virtual content in real-time. LED walls used in virtual production are typically composed of modular LED panels that can be seamlessly connected to create larger display areas. These panels consist of numerous small LED bulbs that emit light and color, forming the images or videos displayed on the wall.
How Does LED Virtual Production Work?
LED virtual production involves using LED screens or walls as the backdrop for filming, placing actors or objects in front of the LED screen, and projecting dynamic and interactive virtual content to complete the movie shoot.
Instead of using traditional green screens or physical setups, LED panels display high-resolution virtual backgrounds or environments in real time. These LED walls can be programmed to display realistic 3D worlds, often using Unreal Engine. With the use of an engine called “Nanite”, images can be imported into the 3D environment, creating a close-to-reality 3D backdrop. The content displayed on the LED screen is typically generated by real-time rendering engines, allowing filmmakers to see the final composition on set during the filming process.
Advantages of LED Virtual Production
- Real-time visualization and enhanced realism
One of the advantages of LED virtual production is that it provides actors with a more immersive and realistic environment as they can see the virtual world they are interacting with in real time. This instant feedback helps actors deliver more authentic performances and allows directors to make on-the-spot adjustments, resulting in a more efficient and collaborative production process.
- Cost and time savings
Virtual production LED walls can significantly reduce the need for extensive post-production work, as not only can the shooting scenes be generated entirely in the LED virtual studio, but also the scenes can be switched freely within the studio. The entire shooting process can be done without any outdoor locations, as environments such as deserts, forests, oceans, etc., can all be created within the LED virtual production studio. This greatly enhances shooting efficiency, eliminating the need for extensive post-production work to add visual effects or backgrounds, and reducing post-production time and film production costs.
- Improved lighting and reflections
Furthermore, the use of LED screens can provide actors with realistic lighting and reflections, further enhancing the integration of virtual and real elements. The virtual production LED walls emit light that interacts with the actors and objects in the scene. This creates realistic lighting and reflections, enhancing the integration of virtual and real elements. It also reduces the need for extensive lighting setups, as the virtual environment can provide the desired lighting conditions.
- Enhanced creativity and flexibility
Virtual production LED walls offer filmmakers greater creative control over virtual environments. They can make instant changes to virtual backgrounds or sets, experiment with different lighting conditions, and visualize complex scenes or visual effects in real time. This flexibility allows for more experimentation and creative exploration during the production process.
- Seamless camera tracking
Virtual production LED walls can also integrate with camera tracking systems, allowing virtual content to dynamically respond to the camera’s movements. This enables realistic parallax and perspective changes, enhancing the sense of depth and immersion in the virtual environment.
The Future of LED Virtual Production
In recent years, LED virtual production has become increasingly popular. The large LED screens that surround the entire set provide filmmakers with more control and flexibility to create visually stunning seamless scenes. LED virtual production technology was first used in the production of the TV series The Mandalorian. More than 50% of the first season of The Mandalorian was shot using virtual production LED walls. LED virtual production provided The Mandalorian with impressive visual effects, earning it the Visual Effects Society Award for “Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project”.
The Mandalorian revolutionized the traditional filmmaking process by utilizing LED virtual production techniques and taking virtual production to new heights. Although XR virtual production is still in its early stages, the concept of the metaverse has greatly influenced its development, and there is enormous potential for the future of LED virtual production. Not only in the film and television industry, but also in the gaming, visual effects, and large-scale advertising industries, leading companies have started investing in large LED virtual production studios, which will drive the demand for LED displays.
In the long run, LED virtual production is a significant transformation in the film industry with vast prospects, and its future will continue to expand as costs decrease and demand increases.
RIGARD Narrow Pixel LED Display
The RIGARD Narrow Pixel LED Display is a product in the industry that meets all the requirements of virtual production for creating realistic worlds in terms of display color, stability, and on-camera performance. It features a perfect 16:9 screen ratio, providing high-resolution video in LED walls for virtual production. Some popular screen formats such as 4:3 and 16:9 is easily accessible on the RIGARD Narrow Pixel LED Displays. Additionally, compared to green screens, RIGARD LED delivers high-quality video production even in low brightness and eliminates the need for carrying cables around. If you’re looking for a cinema-grade giant screen for virtual production, the outstanding performance of the RIGARD Narrow Pixel LED Displays can help you create more standout works.