Is Generative AI Taking Over Virtual Production?

Beth Mutch
Video Producer + Project Manager
Josh Goossen
Visual Content Lead

Virtual Production faces a significant challenge, it desperately needs environments that are both realistic and affordable. But here's the catch: creating these environments using real-time render engines is a time consuming task and a budget-drainer. It's like hitting a massive roadblock in the production process. Sure, you could try using video plates or photos as backgrounds, but let's be honest, that kinda defeats the whole purpose of going all-in with LED walls and virtual production, right? It's like taking one step forward and two steps back.

But then, enter AI.

AI has been causing waves in various industries, and the production world is no exception. Mind boggling videos using AI have surfaced and they are truly fascinating.

So, let's imagine applying AI to virtual production and 3D environments. Could AI transform the way we shoot movies and work on LED volumes? It is an intriguing thought.

Text: Generative AI Accelerates Virtual Production by Noah Kadner

Imagine training an AI model to translate language into visuals and then seamlessly integrate them into a 3D working environment. Sounds groundbreaking, right? We thought so too. And that's when we stumbled upon Noah Kadner's thought-provoking articles on Virtual Producer: "Generative AI and the Future of Filmmaking" and "Generative AI Accelerates Virtual Production."

These articles discuss how AI models generate images and create 2.5D plates by skillfully cutting layers. It's an exciting development in the field.

2D- Uses the LED wall or projector to present a video plate or digital environment that does not offer parallax during camera movements. It’s the lowest complexity and cost for ICVFX and doesn’t require camera tracking.

2.5D- Breaks the scene down into different layers, which could be CG or video plate, by forcing perspective it simulates depth enabling a basic parallax effect for added realism, for this to be effective on camera some sort of motion or camera tracking is required.

Currently, this technology is used for quick reference and client approval, providing environment artists with the green light to proceed with 3D creation. However, we're just scratching the surface. As AI continues to rapidly evolve, the possibilities are astonishing and almost hard to even comprehend.

Here is a bold prediction: AI is going to revolutionize virtual production by generating fully optimized 3D environments. Let that sink in for a moment. Imagine being on set, and the director says, "Hey, I want a breathtaking mountain scene with vibrant fall colours." Now, normally, the VAD team would have to start from scratch, gathering reference images, or using existing 3D assets to create that scene. But with the power of generative AI, that's all about to change. AI will work its magic and instantly conjure up the exact scene the director envisioned, populating it on the LED wall in a flash. It's like bringing dreams to life right before your eyes.

Excerpt from the Noah Kadner Interview: "You're standing on the stage and you're essentially talking directly to the AI"
Noah Kadner on Generative AI for Virtual Production

Let's face it, AI won't be perfect, and adjustments will definitely be necessary. However, even a tool that can create 70% of an environment would speed up the process by a whopping 70%! That's significant progress.

Now, what does this mean for environment artists? Contrary to popular belief, AI won't replace jobs. On the contrary, it will empower artists to create more environments and focus on perfecting the finer details. However, some environment artists might enjoy the process from start to finish and may not want a starting point that AI would offer, but in the end, saving time is saving time.

Moreover, this advancement has the potential to reduce the cost of creating environments, making virtual production more accessible for filmmakers and creatives worldwide that may not have a huge budget for their production.

The possibilities are endless, as AI-generated environments enable artists and directors to experiment effortlessly with different styles, settings, and visual effects. Expensive iterations and idea exploration will become a thing of the past.

Now, I totally get it. Studio owners and even the talented environment artists themselves might feel a bit apprehensive about these changes. Change can be a little scary, right? But here's the thing: we're at a point where embracing the power of AI is not just a good idea, it's a necessary move. It is time for a big shift in the world of virtual production. Why? Well, because this shift has the potential to unleash a whole new era of innovation and efficiency.

We're talking about witnessing mind-blowing creations that were once beyond our wildest imaginations. It's like peering into a crystal ball and seeing a future where the industry is transformed in ways we've never seen before. So, let's take a leap of faith and open our hearts to the power of AI.

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