M+E Daily

HPA Turns the Spotlight on Virtualized Production Technologies

Critical workflows were virtualized across productions during the pandemic to accomplish a wide range of tasks including onboarding, cutting, visualizing, creating music and rendering VFX, according to Joachim “JZ” Zell, a member of the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) board of directors.

Speaking during the Innovation presentation “Wrangling Ones and Zeros: The Wild Wild West of Virtualized Production” May 12 at the annual Hollywood Innovation and Transformation Summit (HITS) Spring event, Zell noted he is an “imaging scientist who supports the colorists,” making sure that the images captured “looks the same on set [and] during post production.”

Zell is also chair of the HPA Awards Engineering Committee and, in 2020, all winners of the awards were asked to “come together and create a movie,” he noted. That short film was given the title Lost Lederhosen and it highlighted a wide variety of virtual production technologies including instant dailies. Part of it was shot during the HPA Tech Retreat’s Supersession in early 2020.

Entering 2020, the “most trendy thing [was] post producing in the cloud [and] doing VFX shots in the cloud,” so HPA did a live presentation on set including “as many cloud tasks as possible,” Zell recalled.

“A month later, the global pandemic hit” and, for a full year, footage was shot that showcased everybody wearing masks on set and in post-production rooms, he said.

A year later, HPA had to plan for everything to be done “really in the cloud because we had to be remote,” he told viewers. As the producer, Zell asked filmmakers around the world to shoot from camera to cloud from sets, he recalled.

There were, however, a couple of challenges with that. First, “certain countries around the world don’t allow actually camera to cloud because they want to control what gets filmed” and also “what gets shown,” he said, noting it was “sad… to learn that we are not ready yet globally – there is still work to do.”

Additionally, one of the productions had to be shut down because “many members of the crew and the rental house got COVID-19,” he said. (They are all fine now, he said.)

The productions were done in cities including Brisbane, Dubai, London, Los Angeles and Mexico City. The production in Hollywood was done using a virtual production stage, Zell pointed out. Productions in the other cities were done in a more “normal” way but there was a “live feed into the cloud” so that he and advisors could see how the productions were going every step of the way, he recalled.

Zell went on to show HITS viewers a video highlighting the emerging technologies and solutions that were used for virtualizing critical workflows across the productions.

To view the entire presentation, click here.

HITS Spring was presented by IBM Security with sponsorship by Genpact, Irdeto, Tata Consultancy Services, Convergent Risks, Equinix, MicroStrategy, Microsoft Azure, Richey May Technology Solutions, Tamr, Whip Media, Eluvio, 5th Kind, LucidLink, Salesforce, Signiant, Zendesk, EIDR, PacketFabric and the Trusted Partner Network.