ASC Members Share Virtual-Production Experience

The first in-person ASC Master Class for Masters education event took place on July with a focus on virtual production techniques.

At top, Baz Idoine, ASC on the volume stage at NantStudios. 

Photos by Charlie Lieberman, ASC

This two-part session was intended only for Society members, but information and knowledge gained will be applied to future ASC Master Class sessions open to the public.

The program — led by Baz Idoine, ASC — began with an online pre-production session on the evening of July 14. He then continued on July 16 with an in-person session on a massive LED volume at NantStudios in El Segundo, California. His collaborators included virtual production supervisor Matt Madden, production designer Todd Cherniawsky and virtual art department head Jorge Felix. AC’s virtual production editor, Noah Kadner, served as discussion moderator.

Idoine’s camera team included gaffer Jeff Webster, key grip Walter “Bud” Scott, and operator April Kelly. Production gear consisted of an Arri Alexa LF on a 30’ Technocrane, OptiTrack tracking, and Panavision 2x-squeeze T Series anamorphic lenses (expanded to cover the LF sensor). 

ASC members in attendance included Mat Beck, Rodney Charters, Richard Crudo, Craig Kief, Charlie Lieberman, George Mooradian, Dave Perkal, Steven Poster, Christopher Probst and Nancy Schreiber. 

During the in-person session, Idoine demonstrated camera tracking, virtual lighting, environment asset development and more. The scene featured a vast Western-style saloon populated by a pair of actors in period costume. Other than the actors, the carpet, and some tables and chairs, the rest of the saloon was entirely virtual. Interactive animated details included a virtual barkeep and digital horses drawing a stagecoach outside the saloon doors. 

After lunch, the scene shifted to an exterior street straight out of a Sergio Leone epic Western. Idoine demonstrated methods to augment the virtual lighting with DMX-controlled full-spectrum cinema lights, including Creamsource Vortex8 LED panels and ETC SolaHyBeam LED movers for increased realism and motivated sources. 

Companies assisting the effort with generous creative and logistical support included Epic Games, Happy Mushroom, Lux Machina, Pixomondo, the Virtual Production Academy, and Quixel. In addition to the stage work, the creatives also demonstrated other virtual production workflows, including virtual scouting, world-building, and related roles such as the volume-control team. 

Everyone agreed that the inspiring results should lead to additional ASC Master Class for Masters sessions and encourage collaboration on future virtual productions.

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