How to make a high-quality video with the full effect of the presence of a 3D character in real space, spending only two weeks on the post-production process?
In the Dota2 & 1xBet project, we tried the maximum number of technologies new to us and the industry. In our story, Razor (the Dota2 character) was supposed to materialize in the hero's room. We decided to build our (first) work with a 3D character on the Unreal Engine game engine. It allows you to render an image in real-time — already on the set, each participant in the process sees a finished picture on the playback instead of a chromakey and the fruits of imagination. Full immersion. Virtual Production is complex technology. Creative searches, creating backgrounds, drawing characters, timing calculations, mixing light, sound, and other elements do not occur after the shooting period, but before - it will not be possible to correct the image on the set
We wanted to introduce augmented reality (AR) technology into the video as much as possible, so we started preparing for filming in 2.5 months.
Even more virtual
Having thought over the plot of the video, we have developed a storyboard. Then we made a rough mockup for the animatic using the Perception Neuron motion capture suit and previewed our story in Unreal Engine 4. Yes, we didn't work out textures, and instead of characters, we had mannequins. But thanks to this, 3D artists could start modeling, texturing, and animating Razor at once at the right timing, taking into account the angle and size. By the day of shooting, we had the character, his animation, and the effects surrounding him almost ready. Because of the high-quality previsualization, each participant in the process clearly understood what he needed to do (for example, the operators of an electronic crane saw what the camera movement should be).
Outside the window, instead of a chromakey, we used LED screens and displayed pre-rendered skyscrapers on them in real-time. Sensors were connected to the camera and the "view from the window" repeated its movements — the illusion was created on the site that the picture outside the window was real. Also, LED screens worked as an independent light source, creating a cozy and natural night atmosphere in the room.
Have you seen Razor's reflection in the "window"? We put an additional screen in front of the actor and brought an animated character to it — so the actor got a partner in the game, and the audience got a "bridge" between reality and graphics, making them believe in what is happening.
We threw another "bridge" with the help of a stage projector, sending pre-drawn reflections and lightning across the floor at the second when Razor appeared in the frame.
Bonus for the director: thanks to AR technology, we were able to bring an animated character to the playlist right on top of the shooting material. The director saw in real-time how the camera flies around the character, and how the actor works with him. On the monitor, we saw something that is not in reality!
Plan down to the second
In order for the shooting to take place, we planned in advance what should happen in every second of the frame. It took a whole shift to "master" the space and switch all the equipment together: we installed and programmed the light on the remote control, prescribed a program for the operator's crane, synchronized LED screens with a camera, a playback, a 3D character in the recording and a projector. All the elements were connected to the same computer and were run using a script written in Tochdesigner.
On the day of filming, we, conditionally, pressed the button and the whole system started working as a single mechanism. The director had only to direct the actor, control the pyrotechnics and the leaves flying from Razor - most of the work was done in advance. By the way, it was details like leaves, reflections, lightning and reflections on the scenery that allowed us to create the illusion that Razor really visited the room.
Due to the high-quality preparation and careful planning, the shooting took place like clockwork. We saved a lot of time, money on equipment rental and nerves of the film crew. For 9 Pandas, the implementation of the project has become an interesting and memorable new experience. The esports audience liked this video, and it completed its marketing task.