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The Role of Virtual Production in the Metaverse

Updated: Feb 16

Virtual Production (VP) and the Metaverse are two increasingly popular technologies that while highly sophisticated on their own, are elevated to the next level when combined.


Virtual Production is the blending of physical sets and performers with virtual worlds, with the resulting effect being the simulation of all these components as existing in a single setting. When calculated correctly, the resulting image looks indistinguishable to reality. An actor can stand in an LED Volume on a Virtual Production stage, and appear to the camera as though they are actually in an extended virtual environment. Virtual Production use is cheaper than flying a crew to shoot on location, requires a reduced post-production time and gives creators a better view of the final result. This, as well as allowing for more creative flexibility is the reason for the growing popularity of VP.


The Metaverse as we know it is a relatively new creation, but it is based on ideas and concepts that have been discussed for years, appearing in different iterations over time. Put simply, the Metaverse is the concept of our existence in a completely digital world.


Blade Runner (1982). Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Historically, the idea of the Metaverse was referred to in terms of science fiction. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson features the first appearance of the Metaverse, and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner brought the idea of such a world into a tangible concept for audiences to visualise. The Metaverse is the amalgamation of Artificial Intelligence and digital settings, replacing our physical reality. Like the real world, digital ‘characters’ are able to meet and talk, make purchases, play together and more, while being physically remote. Although often depicted as dystopian in popular media, the Metaverse holds too much potential for brands and consumers to label it so absolutely, given that it has similar challenges and opportunities to the real world.

 

Looking to the Future


At Target3D we have begun to explore the concept of combining VP and the Metaverse into a single, enhanced experience. Virtual Production as a technique has the potential to bridge the gap between brick and mortar brands, offering them an opportunity to establish themselves in the digital world. The Metaverse also allows the exchange of currency with some platforms. Tangible examples offer the notion that currency can survive and thrive within a completely digital world. Unreal’s Fortnite retains their own in-game currency for users to spend. Luxury brand Gucci recently sold a digital bag on the game Roblox, which sold for $4,115.


To achieve the merging of the two technologies, we create an LED wall allowing an individual to physically see the Metaverse around them. Methods to further blend the two realities include the addition of flora, furniture, rocks and other physical environmental pieces. The individual’s avatar would then enter the Metaverse, with cameras tracking the physical body in an LED volume, allowing the avatar to mirror the movements of the individual. Where appropriate, screens are shown to the individual within the volume, to allow for more interactivity. Game engines such as Unreal Engine are built for the level of interactivity that the Metaverse requires, making it an easy entry point for prospective participants.


This blend of VP and the Metaverse has a great deal of potential. The possibility of communication across vast distances is the most exciting aspect of the technology. Business meetings and conferences within the Metaverse are becoming increasingly normalised as it can improve geographical limitations and save time. Some companies have begun to trial Metaverse conferences.


A Metaverse meeting. Courtesy of disguise.

This is an example of a virtual meeting event hosted by disguise, a London technology company specialising in producing software and hardware for live, extended reality and Metaverse productions.


Musical artists are also exploring producing entirely digitised Metaverse performances. Rapper Travis Scott gave a digital performance through the popular online Battle Royale style video game Fortnite, drawing an audience of nearly 46 million players across the five events.


The band Bastille has also taken an interest in the Metaverse, promoting their latest album Give Me The Future virtually, allowing fans to join in on the concert experience through their VR headsets. This follows Rapper Lil Nas X’s Roblox concert which took place in a virtual Wild West.


Despite distance or financial constraints fans can still experience their favourite artists, while performers are able to reach more people without time zone, security or capacity limitations.



For brands, VP can be a gateway to the Metaverse. While it is becoming a wider topic of interest, the capabilities of VP are not yet well known by the general public. Brands must make steps to show consumers that VP is more than just putting on a headset. True interaction and engagement for consumers is the key to success.


There are challenges when it comes to blending these highly sophisticated technological processes. One issue is the matter of cost, as Virtual Production sets are expensive to install and require dedicated studio space to operate. They also require a crew, cameras and props to maximise the full experience. Workflow, including hardware and software to run the tech, is potentially another costly component. The high price to enter into the Metaverse in this way is potentially alienating to solo artists and brands that would prefer to dedicate their expenses to more traditional methods of marketing and performance.


As we move from using cables for information transmission to wireless broadcasting over IP networks, the size and complexity of the data transfer becomes a point of difficulty. If communication is interrupted by bandwidth limitations, thus compromising its quality in comparison to non-Virtual Production, there is little incentive for companies to switch over to the Metaverse and try something new.


Despite these challenges, Virtual Production equipment is continually reducing in cost, making it a more accessible technology for companies. As manufacturing conditions slowly return to normal post-pandemic, Virtual Production becomes a viable option once again.


Target3D is at the forefront of Virtual Production technology and has facilitated its blend into Metaverse events. We recently collaborated with Final Pixel, a project in which we streamed a motion capture actor into a Virtual Production set, with the added challenge of a physical actor within the volume. We were able to successfully bring the mocap actor’s actions to life through a digital character. A second actor then performed a dance routine in time with our digital avatar. This project highlights an opportunity to adapt this workflow into an augmented reality scene for use within the Metaverse.


We’re well ahead in exploring those possibilities. We’re investing in showcasing the capabilities of these technologies and are currently looking to bring both of our London studios into the Metaverse to test out its functionality with VP. We are confident that Virtual Production and the Metaverse will see significant growth in the next 2-5 years and predict great things for brands, artists and individuals alike.

 

Why trust Target3D for Virtual Production?


In a complex and confusing marketplace, Target3D offers full virtual production service work from consultancy to a turnkey solution. Working with all the leading VP suppliers, we are unbiased and recommend what's right for you, not what's right for us. Speak to the experts today.


 



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