SIGGRAPH Asia 2020: Oscar-winning VFX veteran to direct a short film in January

SIGGRAPH Asia 2020, ACM SIGGRAPH’s annual conference and exhibition on computer graphics and interactive techniques in Asia saw a range of definitive sessions on the latest developments in the effects industry.

Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor and director Paul Franklin, who is also creative director at DNEG revealed that he will be directing a short film in January while talking about his recent tryst with virtual production.

While speaking about the difficulties creators face from shooting in LED wall environments, using virtual cameras and relying on real-time rendering, Paul Franklin shared that the project he can talk about is First Man which even though didn’t use the existing real-time technology, was one of the early adopters of LED volumes.

He shared, “This is the thing that at the moment virtual production and particularly, LED volumes are so new that you can’t really talk about a lot of the stuff that we’re actually doing. But in terms of the actual work we’ve done; one is First Man. It’s not a real time LED volume, but it was an LED volume and that was back in 2017 that we shot that.”

Over this year, he informed, that DNEG had been doing a lot of testing for LED volume work. He shared, “And so I shot a test in the summer, working with a company called Dimension Studio, which is working in partnership with DNEG. So it is a joint DNEG-Dimension project.”

Dimension is an immersive reality/virtual reality studio involved in the broadcast of real-time immersive entertainment. He shared, “We built our own LED volume on their stage. We got an actor in front of it. We tried out a bunch of different scenarios. It was a sort of technical exercise in how does this really work and it taught me an awful lot about the whole process so that was pretty cool.”

Speaking about another test he did during summer, he shared, “I can’t talk much about it but there is the other test I did with a much larger volume this time. We had a 20 meter LED volume with full art department and actors and things and this was interesting because this is much more of an exercise in how good can we make the image and that again you learn something every time and right now.”

Speaking about the film he is going to direct in January, he shared, “So it’s going to be a short 15 minute film. We’re working very closely with Epic Games who have been incredibly supportive of the project. And so we’re using the Unreal Engine. We’re building the sets right now at the moment. We’re all fully cast and that’s going to be interesting because the earlier projects that I mentioned were very much exercises in creating fantasy landscapes.”

While he didn’t reveal much about the story, he informed that the movie is going to be more about the real world environment than the fantasy one.

He shared, “I can’t talk about the story of the film but this is much more about building something that exists in the real world and seeing how close we can get to it with the with the LED screen. So that’s going to be pretty exciting. I think.”

VFX studios have been dishing out short films made with the help of Unreal Engine. The recent example we were treated to was Meerkat. We hope to see more examples of in-camera visual effects unlocking the next level of filmmaking.