Rise of the Robot Cameraman

Rise of the Robot Cameraman

A New Breed of Cinematographers

With the growth of game engines and their ever growing abilities, they’re bringing forth a totally new way of shooting content. The film industry is dominated by visual FX and more and more is being done in the engine, the environments, the effects, even the actors, it’s possible to do it all within the engine and shoot virtually, in realtime.

Leaving the traditional crew behind? Or shaping them into a more advanced breed of virtual production crew? On a virtual set, everyone is needed from the cameraman to the gaffer.

NCAM

Virtual cinematography in Unreal Engine.

The Rise of the Robot Cameraman

The cameraman will have to adapt to operate within the engines and understand the concepts of programming virtual cameras. The motion control robots will beat the cinematographers on every shot. So the cinematographers must change course and become the ones controlling the BOLT’s and MILO’s rigs. The movements for the motion control rigs who become the new cameramen, can be created and animated in Maya then exported as FBX data out to the bolt where it preforms the movement, live on set. But as it’s a robot, it can repeat the exact same move again and again.

Bolt motion control robot

Virtual Camera Movement

cinematographers will also have to understand how the cameras within the engine work and how exactly to sync real and virtual cameras. The virtual and on-set cameras are able to be synced with the use of Unreal Engine. The Engine allows FBX data to be manoeuvred between camera trackers and the engine to view the cameras movement within and outside of the virtual sets allowing cinematographers to move freely.

Virtual cinematography tutorial

Virtual lenses calibration

When shooting in virtual Reality it’s essential that your virtual and real cameras are in sync constantly to avoid head aches. The cameras should be synced in their movements, lenses and settings. When setting up a camera for any shot it’s important to set matching lenses in the engine ensuring the virtual camera will see the correct FOV(field of view). Focal lengths of the two cameras should both be calibrated together, by the focus puller to allow the depth of field to be changed on the virtual set as well as the optical view.

Lighting within the engine and on-set

The lighting methods that are required when working on a virtual production are totally different to any other production. For every shot the lighting has to be planned precisely to match the lighting designed in the unreal world. This is a difficult task for lighting Designers and Lighting Technicians, especially with complex shots that have to mimic the lights of a virtual set.

A gaffer now has to control lights to mimic a car passing the character, virtually and on set. or the city lights on a face. The Lighting Technician could learn DMX lighting controls and operate them with code to sync in engine lights with on set lights.

 

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