Past Activity in 2021
OSVP (On Screen Visual Production)
SMI and HKSC On-Set Virtual Production (September 29 to 30, 2021)
After 18 months of research, teaming, planning and organizing, SMI arra nged and managed the first ever large scale OSVP (On Set Virtual Production) Film Test 2021 which was led by HKSC (Hong Kong Society of Cinematographers) from 29 to 30 in September 2021.
The two-day film test was held at Shaw Studios Stage 2 of 13,300 sq ft and co-organized and supported by close to twenty organizations with the participation of one hundred production crew members. They were all volunteers to contribute to this project.
The OSVP Film Test 2021 employed 752 pieces of LED walls provided by Hiller Pharma Co., Ltd. They included P2.38, a 16-meter by 5-meter curved wall as the main background; P3.91 ceiling LED wall hanging overhead; and four movable LED walls on each side. The film test team applied 6,000 reflective stickers on the studio floor to create X, Y, and Z coordinates for a Mo-Sys camera position tracking system, enabling accurate positioning, focus, and zoom points. Arri Alexa LF cameras and a full set of Arri Signature Primes and Zoom lens was supplied by Arri Asia, whereas another Alexa LF mini and full set of lighting, grip, dollies, etc., were mainly provided by One Cool Hang Wan rental company and other supporting organizations. Tracking data was fed to disguise VX and RX servers, which processed unreal scenes with game engine powered by Epic Games.
Unreal scenes of a Cybercity and a forest, both provided by ICVR.io, served as the primary environments, while a living room scene supplied by TVB Publications was used, along with various foreground props, to illustrate sample set dressing in this film test. One of the important experiences learned on set was how to make an equilibrium act by adjusting the complexity of Unreal scene to live up with the limited rendering capacity of the hardware on set.
Filming and projecting of images on the LED wall were modified from time to time so as to reduce hardware processing burden, address final pixel latency issues, and eliminate unwanted visual glitches, these were the first experiences encountered by the filmmakers on set. The film test was a valuable learning curve for all involved.
Furthermore, lighting of the foreground object to match the background lighting was also important. The team used a DMX system to adjust lighting (Pixel Mapping) according to the camera position during filming and to simulate the reflections of neon lights in the Cybercity scenes. To further enhance a sense of authenticity of the virtual setting, the team extended the virtual scene across the top and both sides of the main LED wall, creating reflections onto cars, people, and other objects.
In order to maximize the learning experience, SMI made arrangements for group visits. Around 250 professionals from all sectors, directors, producers, scriptwriters, cinematographers, gaffers, camera crews, academic institution staff, etc., visited the set during the two-day film test and they were impressed by the scale of the project and the depth of learning experience.
The test footage was recorded as highest quality Arri Raw files and primary grading (including a short HDR version) were done instantly on spot by courtesy of Shaw Studios’ post production facilities. A 12-minute behind the scene video was completed by Wallnex Jim of HKSC soon after the shooting with the assistance of Shaw Studios’ post production. In addition, English subtitles were added to the video to share the event and experience with professionals overseas.
The results of the film test far exceeded expectations; it would entail a larger scale OSVP training project for the Hong Kong filmmaking community and spark collaboration and innovation between key stakeholders across the technical and creative aspects of production.
SMI Screening and Sharing Session held at HKDI on December 13, 2021
A screening and experience sharing session of the film test was arranged by courtesy of Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) for stakeholders including directors, scriptwriters, cinematographers, producers, set designers, members of shooting crew, vfx producers, unreal scene creators, post production experts, etc.
The screening session was organized by HKDI at its 700 seats auditorium equipped with a 15-metre screen and a D-cinema grade Barco 2k digital projector, such environment was important as the final phase of “proof of concept” could be shown with details so that audience was able to witness the projected quality in a simulated cinema environment with a color graded test film complied with ProRes 422 HQ codec.
During the experience sharing session, key participants of the OSVP film test such as Chris Mak of Hiller Pharma AV company and Henry Chung, Wallnex Jim of HKSC, Wing Ma of LED lighting panelist also gave detailed presentations to delineated the works and experiences learned from the OSVP film test.
Due to COVID-19 constraints, only 50% of seating capacity of the auditorium was allowed. SMI had to make arrangements so that 150 professionals of the motion imaging sector and 200 of HKDI students and faculty members could attend the screening and sharing. A question and answer session followed after the screening to maximize the “Sharing” function of the session.
This first film test aimed to inspire the filmmaking community in Hong Kong and beyond, continue collaboration between stakeholders, and develop effective OSVP workflows.
SMI, in line with its mission, will continue to research and organize more similar events to support the expanding virtual production ecosystem.