If at NAB 2022, we saw Virtual Production technologies emerge, this year it is clear that Virtual Production is where the industry is going. But it turns out that you need more than an LED wall to create a believable setup.
This Image Based Lighting system from Videdndum Production Solutions provides just that. A way to add a more realistic light to any virtual production. And the nice thing? Once it’s set up, you don’t need to program it at all.
DIYP talked with Michael Herbert, Lighting Product Manager from Videndum, to learn about where Virtual productions are going. And the setup that he showed us was mind-blowing.
The ambient light problem with Virtual Production
Any virtual production depends primarily on a virtual background, which can be a Green Screen, an LED Wall, or something else. While a good LED wall will provide a believable background, it is not enough to fool us. Mostly because the image that we are seeing (even if high-res, in the right Depth of Field, and right brightness) has no impact on the subjects.
Imagine, for example, a scene with strobing police lights. The background will flash red and blue, but the subjects will still be lit with a “standard” white light. Some production setups use manually operated lights to fight this issue. Usually hand-held or pre-programmed. But this adds more complexity to an already complex setup.
The solution that Videndum is building works differently. But before getting to the solution, let’s look at the setup.
To create the right virtual lighting, you would need both front lights and back lights. In the NAB booth, Videndum used an array of Quasar Science Double Rainbows (here) for the backlights and a bunch of Gemini’s for the front lights. The total number of fixtures was about 30 lights. Though, this setup is really over the top and would probably work on sets double the size.
But the magic happens in a different place. It happens in a box that receives the same video as the wall, and deducts what the lights should do in order to create a realistic scene. So, for example, If a lightning bolt goes boom on the LED wall, you will get a flashing light from the Geminis. And if a police car drives by, the divide will create matching lights on the talent’s face.
The interesting bit is that there is no programming involved, and the lighting-matching is done in real-time using the same feed that goes into the LED wall. That stream goes into a “Magic Box”*, and the magic box creates the sACN and DMX commands to control the lights. To control the box, you can use something as standard as an Elgato Stream Deck. Note how the lights on my face change to match the scene.
This, of course, requires quite a bit of communication with the lights. The Rainbows are controlled via Streaming ACN (sACN), and the Gemini’s with DMX.
Pricing and Availability
If you want to get this setup built in your studio, there is no standard installation. You would need to get in touch with Videndum and get an estimation and a plan from a Videndum rep.
* We call it a “Magic Box” because Videndum did not give the product a name yet.