The last couple of weeks we have taken a look at what Virtual Production is, as well as gone through some of the main techniques being used in the industry nowadays. As we saw, this is a creative field that can be applied to an extremely broad spectrum of media and content generation. This means that depending on what skills you want to develop, and what line of work you want to apply it in, you will have to sift through heaps of documentation, tutorials, and guides. Here at the HQ we want to make this journey more accessible. Therefore, we have collected some of the most valuable resources for the Virtual Production enthusiast.
Unreal Engine’s Website
Since it’s real-time engines what make Virtual Production possible, it only makes sense to begin our research at Unreal Engine’s website. Let’s remember that Virtual Production is a direct result of advances developed in the video game industry, and Unreal Engine (developed by Epic Games) has been one of the most exciting, popular and accessible offers in the last decade.
One of the most appreciable contributions by this company, apart from the software itself, is the vast and well thought out documentation they have made available to the public. From Field Guides to Official Documentation, from Forums to learning courses, Unreal’s website has it all!
Here is the link to the main page:
Field Guides and White Papers
This collection of guides will provide you with plenty of publications on topics that range from Virtual Production to Animation, as well as examples of applied techniques and project walk-throughs.
In terms of Virtual Production, volumes I and II are must-reads.
If you’re looking to take a deeper dive into Unreal Engine and its capabilities then the Official Documentation department will suit your needs. As you can expect, this allows for a deeper technical knowledge of the software, and is also a good source of applied techniques and examples. Make sure not to skip the “Understanding the Basics” volume, since your progress with this kind of real-time graphics software will be based on how well you understand it!
Here’s the link to Official Documentation:
Unreal Online Learning Courses
Perhaps one of the most exciting resources available is the Unreal Online Learning Courses published by the Epic Game’s Dev Community. Here you can find over a hundred tutorials, over 130 courses and much more, all based around the use of Unreal Engine as a real-time graphic engine. You can find specialized publications on Games, Architecture, Tv & Film and Visualization.
Once you have covered basic knowledge from Field Guides and White Papers this can be a good starting point to begin emulating and learning techniques, while patiently developing your own workflow and style.
Keep in mind that Virtual Production is the result of many techniques being applied at the same time. That’s why there are several specialized departments in a Virtual Production team. Now, since the topics covered in the links are very broad and vast, make sure to give yourself time to learn at your own pace, as well as exploring your interests freely.
Virtual Production YouTube Videos
Here is a selection of 5 YouTube videos that will show you some of the scenes behind a Virtual Production team.
Virtual Production by Sony: a peek into the development of Virtual Production in higher industry spheres.
Virtual Production by Amazon Studios: a short showcase on the Virtual Production effort being put together by this film and series company.
Virtual Production and The Mandalorian
Reality Redefined’s take on what Virtual Production is, as well as explanation of visual effects used in The Mandalorian series.
Virtual Production – A Cinematographer’s Conversation
The Australian Cinematographers Society shares their point of view on the challenges of Virtual Production and how it stands in the current state of the art.
The next step in Virtual Production
Webinar hosted by Unreal Engine and Epic Games team members. Although it’s a long video, it contains very interesting and inspiring content.
A few weeks ago we had Cinetica Studios, a Mexico City-based studio that focuses on virtual production for film, tv and the metaverse, attend a Creator Session with Josue Ibañez.
Get Our 7 Core TouchDesigner Templates, FREE
We’re making our 7 core project file templates available – for free.
These templates shed light into the most useful and sometimes obtuse features of TouchDesigner.
They’re designed to be immediately applicable for the complete TouchDesigner beginner, while also providing inspiration for the advanced user.
There are a lot of useful tools when it comes to virtual production. Here are a handful of useful ones we’ve seen out in the wild:
Stype cameras are the go-to cameras for camera tracking. They work with the same technology used in satellites to track stars in outer space in a precise enough manner that the satellites can then re-orient themselves correctly. That same tech powers these cameras that sit on top of your camera and track a pattern on the ceiling. The result of this is a high resolution position and orientation of the camera given to you to control your virtual cameras with.
Off World Live Plugins
Off World Live’s plugins are the industry goto for getting video textures in and out of Unreal engine. They include ability to quickly and easily work with NDI, Spout, and Virtual Webcam setups. This opens up a huge amount of flexibility for a low cost and are highly reliable and work like a charm:
While virtual production has become more exciting and visually spectacular with LED volumes, there are still a TON of amazing things that you can do with a green screen by bringing actors into virtual worlds. Especially if you’re experimenting in your own studio and looking to try out different workflows for yourself without an LED volume, a green screen can be a great thing to have. There are many cloth-based green screens that are easy to work with and move around as you require, here’s an example of one:
Vive VR system
Another recommendation for in-studio systems, where a Stype camera may be out of budget, the HTC Vive systems offer a great replacement for a tracking system. Instead of using the Stype camera, you can attach the Vive controller or tracking puck to your camera and get a great fidelity of position and orientation data to bring into Unreal or TouchDesigner. They can also be used for VR experimentation and on tons of other interactive projects, so they’re quire flexible and great to have in the studio. There are different Vive sets available but you’ll likely want to focus on the Pro or Cosmos series because those support controllers and tracking pucks:
As virtual production continues to grow, there will be more tools and resources available to creators. Hopefully this list gets you up and running with learning materials, inspirational/behind the scenes content, and a look at the common tools used in virtual productions. Enjoy!