This week Virtual Production Supervisor and DOP Asa Bailey took a few days out his schedule to visit On-Set Facilities virtual production car stage being built in South East London. On-Set Facilities car stage will be a permanent installation housing some of the finest pixel pitches in the UK providing a 6x3m 1.5mm pitch main wall with additional 2x3m 2.6mm pitch dollied wings.
About the studio
On-Set Facilities car stage comes equipped with permanent install of SiliconCore p1.5 and 2.6 pixel pitch LED walls. Situated 2 minutes from Abby Wood tube station, it is an ideal and economical solution for shooting high-end driving scenes for series, films, branded content and TVCs. Compete with production facilities and has an overall working space of 20m wide by 20m deep and 10m high. It comes as a dry hire or wet hire with VP crew, camera tracking and GODBOX compute for 2D and 3D driving plate playback.
The Volume specification & dimensions are: 6x3m of 1.5mm pitch main stage with 2 side dolly at 2x3m with 2.6mm pitch
Shooting Fine Pixel Pitch LED
After shooting interactive (Unreal Engine) 3D backgrounds on the high resolution LED wall panels, Bailey said “the size of the wall and its pixel pitch are really interesting, but be warned, the moment I saw our kit-bashed UE assets running on it, I could see immediately that we needed to work harder, especially on our background assets.”
On-Set Facilities working space is roughly 20m x 20m and some 10m high with full size loading doors for high vehicle access. Home to a permanent install LED wall which is 5.8m wide by 3.2m high and a pixel pitch of 1.5mm and a total resolution of 4K. The studio also provides two LED side walls on dolly wheels to add interactive lighting, but at a pixel pitch of 2.6 these panels can also be shot, and provide ample scope for additional interactive lighting set-ups. The studio has ample space for small production units including green rooms, dressing room, and production offices.
“High resolution 2D driving plates may be more effective for speed of set ups, but the ideal background for these walls would be a blend of 2D photo assets built into 3D real-time world environment.”
Bailey explains “After the tests, I think next time we’ll try shooting 2D photographic plates and then adding photoreal in-engine assets. I opted for a 3D background over 2D background on this test, as we wanted control of the UE 3D background playback to bring the car to a controlled stop. The shot we wanted was to transition the story from the dark woods driving scene, to the next location, an old house set in the woods.
We used tech-viz to make sure our shots fitted into the LED shooting space.
“I am always trying to work out how we can edit the shots we shoot on the VP stage with shots that are filmed out in the real world. I was curious to see how we can link a LED VP driving scene with the character arriving at the next scenes location, which will be a real house filmed on-location. I opted for a UE environment as it allowed me to shoot the actor driving through the woods, then stopping the car on command, and stepping out of the car, linking the virtual and live action shot scenes. ”
About Asa Bailey
One of the first filmmakers to pioneer real-time on-set technologies in the UK, Bailey recently signed a talent deal with Netflix as the studios VP Supervisor. Bailey’s production company On-Set Facilities based in Wales, are the developers of GODBOX the low-latency on-set computing platform, and the company provide Virtual Production Supervisors, VP crew and on-set technology.
On the subject of lighting the shots on this wall test, Bailey went on to say “for this thriller we set out for a nostalgic classic noir look, here are my big brush learnings from this test.
- First their is a temptation to focus more on the LED wall than usual, as backgrounds look immediately very sharp, especially on high contrast backgrounds, you really need to bring better (in my view more photoreal) assets to this type of stage, we got around it with the usual blown out focus methods, but this looses the benefit of such a high pixel pitch wall, next time, we test first, and make sure we have the very best background possible.
- Next I found you don’t need need as much filtration on your camera as you do normally shooting on LED. This is because of the amount of light that lower pixel pitch screens (1.5) put out, it is no where near as much as the bigger pitch (2.6) LED screens. This threw me off guard for a moment as I had to re-think my usual filtration set-up for shooting LED. My advice, if you can get and do a camera test before your shoot.
- This all makes total sense, but until you have shot on different LED panels, you just don’t know how much light we are talking about. But some of the other bonuses of these high res panels, is the viewable angle and colour shift. Due to the fact that they have no shading and are very low profile panels, the colour shift is much less and the viewing angle is much greater. Honestly, I can not wait to give this a go again, and see how we can very the lighting and the background realism to create totally different looks.”