The Evolution of Visual Effects (and the potential of VR)

by Rahul Kallankandy, Senior Online Artist & Visual Effects Director

Its always exciting to explore new possibilities in post production. One of the biggest problems facing advertising right now is retaining consumer interest. As we all know advertising can sometimes be quite intrusive. In your face branding can create a negative response from the viewers and/or cause the viewer to look away or skip advertising entirely.

The biggest advantage of 360 vs traditional commercial/advertising is user interaction.

360 gives the consumer control over the camera. It actually goes back to traditional forms of entertainment like plays or live theatre but with a more focused approach.

The freedom to pan and rotate the camera leads to a viewing experience which requires user input with the mouse, or actually using your head to take a look around you as the action on screen unfolds.

The viewer can be fully immersed in a 360 video with a VR headset. Which means zero distractions. In this day and age of constant distractions, watching a single video has become a challenge. People open up multiple tabs on their browser and watch multiple videos, sometimes at the same time. Because 360 requires user input, it becomes important for the viewer to actually focus on one video to completely enjoy the on screen visuals.

The incorporation of visual effects or motion graphics adds more dimension to 360 videos. Techniques like on screen text information helps lead the viewer in the right direction. Non-intrusive advertising techniques may be used to push branding within a shot. In the Saigon Soul Pool Party, we included our logo on a building as a test to explore such techniques. Basically, the viewer can enjoy the video and get a very good feel of any place or event with spatial audio and people moving around in frame. The viewer may chose to watch a certain section of the video or pan to another side which may be more interesting. So in effect, one video can be viewed multiple times and each time the experience may be different based on one’s mouse movement.

 

The biggest challenge facing us in 360 right now would be data management. Because of the nature of the format, we work with 4k video files. The resolution ensures that the viewer can get maximum clarity of visuals.

From a development point of view, quick turn around time from shoot to upload would be the top priority for the 360 team.

The future of 360 video would be to create engaging storylines which would help the viewer experience a completely different perspective to traditional video consumption. Like all things in the creative field, one is limited only by one’s imagination. We look forward to break the barrier between inaccessible technology and a completely immersive video which makes you forget the format and enjoy the content. In the end, content shall always be king.

The Revolution of Post Production

DIGIPOST 2015We need to evolve.  We need to re-invent ourselves.  Sounds familiar?

These are the words that are commonly spoken nowadays.  With the emergence of technology coming at a breakneck pace, the post production industry is one of the industries struggling to keep up.

However where is decline, there will be opportunities.  Being in the post production business in the last decade and hearing the constant death knell in the visual effects industry, we believe there is only one path to the future.

Revolution.

Talent and passion is key

For too long, the post production business has created many visual effects operators who are simply technically competent on the machine.  Expensive software has made the industry practical inaccessible to any layman.

Technology has changed.  With cheaper software and hardware, there are no more barriers to entry.  For once in a long time, talents who are truly gifted and passionate in the art of storytelling (editors), painting (colourist), digital magicians (online artists, compositors, CG artists) can have a successful career.

They just need the imagination and the right nurturing from the studio.

 

To work in creative teams

The post production process workflow from offline to colour to online & CG to audio works no different from an assembly in a factory.  Often department do not communicate and worst, do not understand the purpose of the project.  Such environment creates a stifling and political work environment.

No practitioner in post-production ever started in the industry wanting to be worker in an assembly line.  Most enter because of a film they seen that inspires them, a fantastical world in a computer game that awes them or simply wanting to creative field.

Break the workflow.  The post production workflow needs to be destroyed totally.  We need to have organic teams that every member to understand the goal of the project.  They need to work in teams from A to Z, from concept to execution.

This brings us to the next step.

 

To possess multi-disciplinary skill-sets and be highly adaptable

The age of specialization is gone.  Factory workers are being replaced by robots, drivers are soon to be replaced by driverless cars and the internet is slowly (but surely) putting traditional advertising and media in decline.

Technology is replacing any job that is repetitive or at one time called a ‘specialization’.  Any position in post-production can soon be replaced by a plugin or a latest ‘easier-to-use’ software.

The new generation of practitioner needs to highly adaptable and possess different skill sets.  With the right tools, they can achieve the same quality that used to take more than 5 people, or even 10.

With the right team, it is amazing the quality of work that can be produced.

 

Build strong partnerships

The supplier mentality needs to be changed to a partnership.  Work with clients who value the creativity and the execution in the team.

If the client partnership lasts only because of a cheaper rate, then that is a partnership that will not last.  Lose them now, or lose them later.  It is only a matter of time.

Be brave.

 

This is not an evolution.  We cannot re-invent ourselves.  Change is all that is left.

Where there is decline, there is opportunity.

So who wants to join us on the new ship?

‘The Maze’ TVC vfx breakdown

“The Maze” is a 30 sec commercial shots for Khang Duoc Sam. The TVC is shot entirely on greenscreen. Since this is a commercial that heavily relies on VFX, as a post house we were involved since the early stages to guarantee a smooth post-production workflow without too many surprises further down the line. First we were given a rough storyboard and the directors treatment. Base on those and on clients comments we started with an animatic just to give us a rough idea about the overall timing.

Since the VFX are so crucial we decided to create a rough 3D previz before the actual shoot. This would be used as a guideline and to see how to best translate camera angles from the storyboard to something that can actually be shot.

After the production we got the offline cut on in which we would start to setup all our final 3D shots. At this stage we did a shot by shot analysis to get a good idea on what had to be done on each shots. This included tracking, clean-ups, the set extensions and layout of the 3d elements. Based on that we created a previz based on the offline cut.

Once we got approval on the previz we proceeded with rendering and final tweaks to all shots and subsequently compositing.

Article by Leonard Monichi, Visual Effects Supervisor.

The Science Behind Colour Grading and Monitors

This is an article by our colourist Alexis Odiowei explaining the science behind colour grading and monitors.

IMG_2600“I want it to the look the same on every screen it is viewed on.”

This is the impossible task that colourists the world over often find themselves confronted with by agencies, clients and directors.

Over the course of this blog I will detail in simple terms why this is ultimately unachievable.

The best place to start is to give a brief summary of the science and technology that dictates the way that we view color on different monitors. Various video cameras shoot in different color spaces that can be utilized for different reason at the various stages of post production but the current colour space or standard for television broadcasting is known as REC709. Every TV Broadcast colourist will be working with a broadcast monitor that is calibrated to REC709. Most consumer HDTVs are also roughly calibrated to this standard.

 

So why does it look different on my TV at home?

The most simple way of explaining this is to use a real life example that almost everyone will have experienced. If you have ever been into an electronics store and seen 3 or 4 televisions lined up next to each other all playing the same image you will have noticed that they all display the colour differently, some differences are very subtle while others may be more extreme.

One of the main problems is that most new HDTVs offer a multitude of settings ranging from dynamic through to sport and so on that enable the consumer to modify the picture they see on their television. Quite often televisions ship with one of these settings applied this can greatly distort the way that we see the image from grade to broadcast. This often results in an image that is drastically different from the work done in the colour grading suite.

Many people in the industry feel so strongly about the way that images are distorted through these TV settings that there are various petitions to ensure that TVs are shipped with standard settings. You can see a few articles on the subject below.

https://www.change.org/p/hdtv-manufacturers-please-stop-making-smooth-motion-the-default-setting-on-all-hdtvs

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19650769

150226215539-black-blue-dress-exlarge-169

This picture was a recent internet phenomenon with many people seeing the dress as white and gold while others saw it as blue and black. This again shows how lighting situations brightness and different screens vastly effect the way cololur is perceived.

 

Ok well what about my laptop home computer?

Clients often ask colourists to send on a file that they can review and give changes on. This is every colourists worst nightmare as 90% of laptop and computer screens are not calibrated to any standard. On top of this if you are using your laptop for work purposes (word, excel etc) chances are you have adjusted the brightness settings to your liking. So often feedback in this way can be at best pointless and at worst damaging.

I can think of a recent example where I spent over a week going back and forth with a director making changes based on his laptop image, only for him to finally come in and approve the original grade that I had done at the beginning of the week.

 

So whats the point in color grading at all?

The thing about colour is that there are various things that affect the way we perceive it, whether it be lighting, back drop or adaptation (your eyes adjusting to an image after viewing it too long). We color grade to ensure that at it’s best the image is seen as closely as possible to how it was in the grading suite, however if it is not observed in this environment we are still greeted with an image that has an overall complementary colour pallet and doesn’t for instance become too dark in the black levels or have clashing colours.

Overall the small differences between televisions set at a REC709 standard will have very little impact on the viewers experience providing the colorist has carried out their duties properly.

So to conclude the key is not to worry about whether it’s going to look exactly the same on every screen. It’s not going to! The main thing to take into account is the medium your project is destined for and employing a colourist that can ensure that the image is going to look good in this medium regardless of the subtle changes between the various screens it will be viewed on.

ARTICLE BY ALEXIS ODIOWEI

Audio studios get facelift with ProTools 11 & C|24!

DIGIPOST Audio Studios will receive a much anticipated facelift with the ProTools 11 and C|24 control panel.  This will the most advanced audio technology in Vietnam this year and it will keep the team competitive in the international markets.

This exciting new technology will now be available to clients, enabling a high standard of sounds for music production, sound design, voice recording and mixing.

For a free tour of the studio, drop us an email at andy@digipostglobal.com.