In the first of a small series we talk with Nic Hatch, CEO of Ncam about the fundamental shift of post production systems. Is virtual production the future, as it shifts parts of “classic” post-production into production?
According to their own website, Ncam was established in 2012 out of a requirement to create a complete virtual production setup for live previz shots. We had the opportunity to discuss virtual production and the future of post-production with Nic Hatch, the company’s CEO.
CineD: What are you most excited about for the future of virtual production?
Nic Hatch: Virtual Production covers a wide spectrum of tools and techniques from pre-production through production, but they all have a single goal which is to accelerate the ability for creatives and stakeholders to align and share a vision.
In fact, that’s what I find most exciting – the potential for real–time collaboration to allow for greater creative freedom, in a far more efficient and effective way.
Whether it’s visualizing a location through virtual scouting, replacing a green screen with a virtual environment, or shooting in-camera VFX with LED walls, it’s all about empowering the creative process. The fact that massive cost savings are a byproduct of these workflows is the icing on the cake.
VP technology will become the norm as opposed to a luxury few can afford.
CineD: Are there any upcoming trends and technologies like AI that feed into this?
NH: Computer vision techniques combined with real-time computer graphics will become ubiquitous within virtual production. Currently AI is mostly used for simple stunts, like face-swapping for a YouTube video. It is rarely the driver of traditional VFX, though we see exceptions from larger studios who design custom tools. We’re still in the research “Will this work?” phase.
When will Virtual Production be more available?
CineD: How might virtual production (VP) filter down to the majority of production?
NH: VP democratization is ultimately about ease of use and affordability. If technology within VP is to become the norm, it must be simple to use and more automated, so that it can learn and improve within changing environments, while also having a low barrier to entry – or, better yet, no barrier. Once we reach this equilibrium, VP technology will become the norm as opposed to a luxury few can afford.
CineD: How do you believe post-production companies will continue to evolve for remote working?
NH: Hybrid or remote working is already commonplace with VFX. With the likes of HP adding to their remote computing portfolio with Teradici, it has become easier and more transparent than ever. Once the physical barriers are removed, we’re left with legal and tax compliance issues for global workforce distribution. Companies now need to leverage a borderless workforce, while also maintaining local compliance.
What about indie filmmakers?
CineD: Plenty of indie productions want to access VFX, but either don’t know how or think it is too expensive. In what ways do you feel virtual production and VFX will become more accessible to the independent content creator?
NH: VP, by definition, is a more efficient and effective way to create digital content. But right now, it’s in the early stages. With the likes of Epic offering Unreal Engine free of charge, and larger production companies opening up VP studios for rent so teams can access and experiment with new tech, the barriers are coming down fast.
One method forward could also be smaller studios partnering together, like in the case of Quite Brilliant’s recent VP demo , which shows how far you can push a small production.
Nic Hatch founded Ncam in 2012 to develop innovative virtual production technology and solutions for Film, TV and Broadcast; recent titles include Aquaman, X-Men Dark Phoenix and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Prior to founding Ncam, he jointly formed Nvizage & Nvizible, one of the fastest growing VFX studios in London, in 2009. Hatch is also a creative, having worked as a CG artist for Mill Film and the Moving Picture Company on a variety of projects including Troy, Tomb Raider and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
What’s your take on Virtual Production? Do you think your production would benefit from it? Let us know.