FEST turned its attention to the future of cinema on the fourth day of its industry program.
Virtual production will arguably become essential in modern filmmaking as it is also becoming more and more easily accessible. This is what the speakers of the day brought to the table. Nancy Xu of Epic’s London Innovation Lab, Johannes Wilke of Glassbox Technologies, Evgeny Kalachikhin from Film University Babelsberg, and Pedro Domingo of Nu Boyana Portugal presented different cutting-edge tech software and broke down exactly just what benefits filmmakers of all walks of life can obtain from using virtual production.
Virtual production itself is quite a broad concept and, as Johannes Wilke pointed out during the Q&A section of his masterclass, it is not yet a part of academic curriculums in a widespread manner. That is where FEST comes in. Thursday’s program offered a full scope dive into the world of virtual production, available to filmmakers and film fans alike that might not know enough about the subject a thorough introduction, but also engaging professionals used to this technology and giving them an opportunity to connect with peers from different corners of the world.
A very hands-on approach, involving different software and creating virtual content in real-time, gave today’s masterclasses a unique, exciting feel.
Nancy Xu kicked off the day with an overview of the practice of virtual production, covering the types of scenes that are usually developed using this filmmaking process, as well as the different technologies that it encompasses. With Johannes Wilke, FEST attendees got to explore the Unreal Engine, a 3D creation tool for photoreal visuals and immersive experiences, and how Glassbox’s own DragonFly virtual camera can offer great, exciting opportunities for filmmaking, namely when it comes to Previs, or the pre-production previsualization of scenes. This technology allows filmmakers to plan for the real shoot, by creating environments that are to scale with the real set, and simulating camera work, shots, and framing, thus predicting possible setbacks that could have delayed production. This is just one type of software, whose features can then be transferred to all kinds of digital production techniques.
Evgeny Kalachikhin brought the independent director's perspective to the discussion by emphasising the importance and practicality of combining new virtual production technology and classical, physical film production. Virtual production creates unique opportunities for students or independent filmmakers who can’t afford big teams or ambitious locations, allowing creators to make their wildest visions come to fruition virtually. Increasing offer and accessibility have significantly reduced costs, making all these tools affordable to smaller-scale professionals.
VFX, or visual effects, specifically, were the main subject of Pedro Domingo’s session, to wrap up the day of masterclasses. The Portuguese visual effects artist gave an in-depth presentation on how VFX can help any production, regardless of scale. Topics covered ranged from when to consider VFX to the different departments involved in VFX, as well as how VFX can be used, not just for major visuals but also for subtle improvements.
Marrying new technological opportunities to the genuineness of traditional filmmaking practices is the inevitable future landscape of cinema and FEST is on top of these developments.
Article written by Francisca Tinoco.