Jo An Li, Design for Art Direction
Looking back the time in March, it is clear that covid-19 was spreading all around the world, universities, companies and other organisations started to reconsider their business plans made remote, delayed or cancelled. It is also the biggest challenge for film industries. All the media or video production companies facing the industry should not be underestimated. In the beginning of the DPS year, I am doing the internship in the video production company as the production assistant, contributing to aspects of film making from ideation, filming with camera and sound post-production and editing. In the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, the company has been working to a new methodology and small-scales changes, such as building a webcasting system to allow for live streaming for the office. We also have been re-designing the studio space to provide us with a purpose-built studio with webcasting suite, enabling live video, pre-record presentations or social feed. It maybe the difficult time for all of us to work and collaborate, but it forces everyone to figure out how to be creative, how to be smart, how to be adaptive and how to support each other through the complexities of this. Working under the pandemic not only change the way we work but also change the way we think, what will have changed in the way we think? How will this affect the way we communicate, collaborate, create or run the experiences people want and need ?
Image, 3. Camera set for live streaming in office.
As crew and performers tend to work in close physical contact, and locations set and studio spaces are filled with activities and people, pandemic has brought the extraordinary challenges on finding new production techniques that creative teams can continue to collaborate under social distancing measures. During the time, I was inspiring by different filmmakers and looking at different media companies or film studios that were already well under way, such as Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) advanced technology on the ‘Shark Tank’ television show. Shark tank is the award-winning entrepreneurial-themed reality series, known for showcasing innovative ideas and products. In 10 season, Shark Tank turned to a new solutions provided by innovation studios. Innovation Studios captured a virtual 3D digital model of Shark Tank set with a technique called volumetric image acquisition to create the photo-realistic environment. As we are already under remote post production workflows, I believe that Covid-19 has bought the necessity forward by next few years.
Image, 2. Shark Tank’s virtual set / Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
Another example from the film I was watching few months ago, “The Lion King”, a reimagined version that has released in 2019. The term ‘virtual production’ has become the huge role in making Disney’s The Lion King a reality. Using different elements of virtual production, LED screen for live composting work, pre-visualising shoots, or using rendering to show how objects will interact with in this entirely pre-visualising virtual environments. With all of these creative possibilities, It allows filmmakers to imagine, complete, or plan all part of production process, and it must be said that this new production solutions has become the new normal in the sustainable and inclusive innovation. While watching the movie, I began to think about the meaning of virtual production and why this innovation has become wide-ranging in the process of film creation. To figure out the answer, I was listening to the talks by David Morin, the head of Epic Games. His talks pointed out how intersecting technologies advancing and redefining the art of visual storytelling for the next many years. Using unreal engines and VFX to develop photorealistic environments and really build new systems in removing the boundaries. When he shares about the team building strategies, techniques and tools, I realised that those experience professionals has accelerated the VR and AR process in design and visual effects from last few years. He explained virtual production is a process of the merging 3D elements with the visual effects. It helps visualise complex scenes or scenes which can not filmed in real world. Through different broader context and inspiration, they gave me a storytelling perspectives, Which is the most important aspect of production, it doesn’t matter how you make the work but what you make.
Image, 3. The Lion King movie, VR and games cinematography to cinema’s virtual production.
“No physical stage means no limitations” - Elliot Newman, MPC Film VFX Supervisor.
This is one of the quotes that has resonated with me the most. Without limitations, it allows creators to push their boundaries and create something that has never been done before. The technology is not only just being used to create fantasy worlds, but looking at world we never could have imagined. Working as the production assistant roles in the production company and learning from actual productions educated me on how real-time environments changes and what we can do in terms of narrative structures. From film industry to society we are living in, it is clearly to see that how much time people today spend on their laptops and phones, and how digital devices merge into physical life. Brings the virtual production technology into life and helps things get faster, bigger and more powerful. It is the huge potential for all the advertising, companies, global brands, design and entertainment studios to foresee the future of content creation bringing impacts into life. This new normal and charges not only empowers filmmakers to create shots based on what ‘feels’ right, but it also gives me with new aspects of narrative, not based on your production methods, but your production the way. Now everything is new, some people believe that it is the time to build the better future, remake the society even thing back to normal, and force shift to virtual century. This global pandemic has forever changed the experience of being student, an employee, citizen and human beings. What will “the new normal” mean to us? What will life in the future look like, how do we combine the digital world with physical worlds so we can tell any story we can imagine?