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UK creatives join forces for industry-first collaboration on Virtual Production

Sky Studios, DNEG, Creative Technology, Dimension, and ARRI partner to champion new skills, innovation and insights

Today, a collective of creative organisations working at the forefront of Virtual Production in the UK have announced a joint partnership aiming to provide insights, expertise and practical training to upskill the UK’s creative community in the latest technology of virtual production.

Multi-award-winning virtual entertainment company Dimension, Sky’s Europe-wide production arm Sky Studios, visual effects powerhouse DNEG, events and broadcast technology company Creative Technology part of the NEP Group, and leading designer and manufacturer of camera and lighting systems ARRI have joined forces for the industry-first initiative which sees two-time Oscar-winner and DNEG Creative Director Paul Franklin (Interstellar, Inception) direct an R&D project.

Filmed over a two week period in October 2021 at ARRI and Creative Technology’s mixed reality stage in Uxbridge, West London, the Virtual Production Innovation Project was created to demonstrate the advantages and versatility of virtual production for capturing in-camera VFX and final pixel shots using an LED volume, and aims to upskill the next generation of creative talent.

View the Virtual Production Innovation Project trailer here:

The project will be edited into a series of short films, each offering a deep dive into a specific scene and virtual production objective. Together, they will provide a comprehensive and insightful view of the state-of-the-art technology, techniques, achievements, and key learnings from the project and demonstrate the versatility of virtual production across a range of genres, for broadcast productions as well as feature films.

A trailer from the Virtual Production Innovation Project, featuring a selection of the scenes filmed, has been released today and will be followed by the release of the short film series in early 2022.

Virtual production is revolutionising the screen industries – and supercharging the creative process – by allowing filmmakers to see visual effects in real-time as they shoot. This is achieved by combining cutting-edge games engine technology, like Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, with large high-resolution LED screens, to create highly realistic 3D scenes live on set. This fusing of technology frees up elements of a traditionally linear production process (live production followed by visual effects) to work together in parallel, allowing for more collaborative and creative decision making between teams.

The results are game-changing: scenes can be filmed in-camera without the need for further VFX work in post-production; lighting from the scene can be used to authentically light the cast; scene changes and transformations can be made in real-time on set; and the cast can see and respond to the realistic virtual world around them, leading to better performances.

Virtual production is also enabling the screen industries to reduce the carbon footprint of productions by limiting the need to travel to additional locations. Cast and crew are able to travel the world from one single site.

Directed by two-time Oscar-winner and DNEG Creative Director Paul Franklin (Interstellar, Inception) and lensed by DPs Dale Elena McCready and Robert Payton, the Innovation Project collaboration builds on the pioneering virtual production work that the project partners are already delivering across film, drama and broadcast. The photo-realistic, live 3D worlds created by Dimension in Unreal Engine are ideal for virtual production, enabling multiple environments and landscapes to be captured on a single stage, and offering new levels of creative freedom and efficiency at every stage of the process.

 

“Speaking as a filmmaker, the Sky Virtual Production Innovation Project was a dream come true. Working with a state-of-the-art LED volume, I was able to explore a wide range of dramatic scenarios ranging from urban locations through natural landscapes to deep-space sci-fi worlds – all on the same stage. The photographic realism that can be achieved is astonishing – I can’t wait to shoot in the Volume again!”

Paul Franklin, Director

 

“This collaboration has reinforced the potential of Virtual Production to be a game-changer for creatives working at the forefront of storytelling. Having used VP throughout the development and production of various upcoming Sky Originals, we are pleased to be working in partnership with Dimenson, DNEG, Creative Technology and Arri to share these learnings with the industry.”

Eugenio Perez, Head of Production Scripted, Sky Studios

 

“We built our volume stage with ARRI to help accelerate and develop Virtual Production. It was inspiring to be part of a project, joining forces with Sky, Dimension and DNEG to push the technology to its limits and collaborate, explore and share workflows, showcasing this new technology and sharing it with the broader industry. We really are at the beginning of what we can achieve with this technology as it becomes more accessible and a fundamental part of the filmmaker’s creative toolkit.”

Will Case, Director of Innovation, Creative Technology

 

“The opportunity to work with such a talented and diverse group of creatives, innovators and industry leaders has been a real privilege for ARRI. It was the perfect opportunity to validate all the design decisions ARRI and Creative Technology made to deliver this highly integrated Mixed Reality studio. The speed and creative flexibility we were able to achieve during this project was phenomenal. To think this is only the first generation of this type of studio solution is really exciting. ARRI can’t wait to see how far we can push the technology, ourselves, and to see what the creative’s will inspire all of us to do next.”

David Levy, Director, Business Development, Global Solutions, ARRI

 

“Virtual Production is a creative technology that has the potential to revolutionise the production of filmed content. It is already opening exciting new creative avenues for filmmakers, as well as addressing some of the challenges we face producing content during a period of ongoing restrictions. We’re just scratching the surface of what will become possible with this technology in the next few years, and it is exciting to collaborate with Paul and the teams at Sky Studios and Dimension to produce a series of short films that demonstrate how versatile and game-changing this technology can be in realising the filmmaker’s vision.”

Namit Malhotra, Chairman and CEO, DNEG

 

“With this latest collaboration, Dimension set out to demonstrate how Virtual Production can offer incredible creative possibilities as well as affordable, practical production solutions.

We’ve distilled our experience with high-budget shows and proved that Virtual Production can not only work within the constraints of episodic drama, but can expand the creative choices available to directors and producers who embrace its strengths.”

Steve Jelley, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Dimension