SEOUL — VA Corporation, a virtual production company in South Korea, will launch a commercial virtual scouting service that previews filming locations and sets in a virtual environment. Without visiting the site, content creators can check backgrounds and environments through web pages while updating backgrounds by choosing and designing locations simply by setting cameras and arranging lights in advance .
VA Corporation’s platform called “V Stage” effectively helps creators to customize content background according to their shooting concept. It would be the world’s first platform for content developers to visualize hard-to-visit places such as deserts and jungles. The shooting environment can be monitored with a 360 degree camera.
“Web-based virtual scouting is a service that has yet to be tried,” VA producer Choi Chan said at a Nov. 30 media event at VA’s virtual production studio in Hanam, a city southwest Seoul satellite. “Time efficiency can be guaranteed during the pre-production phase because shooting locations can be selected and designed in advance.”
V Stage updated 3,100 three-dimensional spaces. “There have been no cases of attempts (deployment) of web-based virtual reconnaissance platforms that allow users to check all 3D environmental assets as if they were in the real location”, Choi said. Assets refer to 3D spaces used as backgrounds in virtual production. The platform was used to refresh 1988 Seoul for “Seoul Vibem,” a 2022 Netflix action movie featuring dynamic car chase scenes.
Virtual scouting reduces the time needed in the pre-production phase and allows creators to use the pre-verified optimal setting immediately after visiting the virtual production studio. The virtual environment can be examined with a 360° camera, so it is possible to easily check the composition and the scenes of the shooting.
VA will update the beta version of V-Stage, launched in September 2022, by storing data on the movement of virtual humans. Artificial intelligence will be integrated to combine various elements to create unique backgrounds naturally. “We will upgrade V Stage functions, user experience and user interface while increasing the use of virtual production studios by facilitating communication between users through the implementation of storage functions. ‘assets and community,’ VA director Ko Byung-hyun said.
The virtual production studio emerges as an effective content creation tool, as it seamlessly combines physical and virtual elements using a suite of software tools. Studios can save time and money by filming on stage and viewing virtual graphics together in real time. Visual effects (VFX), which is the integration of live action footage and computer CG elements to create realistic imagery, are worked on and iterated throughout pre-production.
In May 2022, CJ ENM, the South Korean entertainment group that produced the 2020 Oscar-winning film “Parasite,” opened a virtual production stage with connected cameras and a huge micro-LED screen. SK Telecom, one of South Korea’s leading mobile operators, has formed a consortium with three virtual production companies to expand a national media ecosystem through its visual effects studio.
“We are presenting a new paradigm for content production by leading the growth of virtual production with preventative investments, technology and the best partners in the domestic market,” said Ko.
VA’s virtual production studio covering approximately 15,000 square meters used real-time rendering technology from game engines. The studio has facilities optimized for the production of realistic content, such as LED wall stages that create realistic graphics, as well as VFX equipment and an extended reality (XR) operating system. XR refers to all digital environments created using virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality.
The key technology incorporated in a virtual production studio is “In-Camera Visual Effects (ICVFX)”, an innovative technique that allows users to shoot multiple scenes and locations after setting up LED walls in front of actors in a studio. With ICVFX, LED walls create unprecedented levels of illumination and reflective precision. Less time spent on lighting and adjustments creates more time to focus on capturing the real shot.
“There has been no instance in which a film or drama has been produced entirely with a virtual production method,” VA Convergence Director Kim Woo-hyung said, adding that the company was trying to improve the quality of production required in the film industry.
VA aims to build a comprehensive content union that can cover all content production and distribution. In May 2022, the company unveiled its plan to acquire metaverse broadcast production company ROOT M&C, a metaverse company specializing in virtual reality and augmented reality content. The company has already made strategic investments in Amberlin, a performance content company known for producing AR and XR content with CJ ENM for various concerts, including KCON, an annual Korean cultural convention for fans around the world.
VA is also working with LG’s Artificial Intelligence Research Institute to actualize a digital human. In February 2022, the two companies opened a joint research center in Hanam to develop LED walls optimized for ICVFX.
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