To get a better sense of what the volume had to offer we needed to work in Unreal, the video game engine that creates parallax and depth within a 3D digital environment. And this time our test would be a short film, to experience firsthand the volume’s effect on the process of telling a story: coverage, sound recording, performance, schedule, workflow, etc.
Our backgrounds came from the Unreal Marketplace, a clearinghouse of sorts for pre-built 3D environments. Unfortunately, at the time of our shoot, there weren’t any cinema-quality, volume-ready environments, so we worked with what we could find.
the r&d of it
Black Pearl panels // 2.8 pixel pitch // ARRI Alexa LF // Leica Summilux
Despite what we learned on the first one, matching black levels takes practice. LED panels are reflective, so ambient and fill light can lead to black levels looking lifted. (Manufacturers are working on solutions to this problem.)
Every focal length has its own breaking point, but from our experience, regardless of the lens, when you place your subject any closer than about 15-feet from the volume, the technique begins to show itself.
Even with a mediocre background image, Unreal’s 360° environments allow for convincingly interactive light and reflections.
Sound tends to bounce off the panels, so we had to throw up a bit of baffling. This should only be an issue in the short term, as the latest-and-greatest panels are supposed to be less reflective of both sound and light.
Close-ups and long-lens shots almost always look convincing.
cast patrick wilkins & Steve lewis
Director/producer Russ Lamoureux
story Russ Lamoureux & patrick wilkins
cinematographer Darran Tiernan
1ST AC PETER GERAGHTY
2ND AC BRENT EGAN
DIT MIKE DEGRAZZIO
GAFFER DAVE MADDUX
KEY GRIP PONCH GUTIERREZ
SOUND MIXER PAUL STULA
ART DIRECTOR TYLER STEIN
props MIKA FLORIAN
VFX PRODUCER ANDREW TURNER
VFX Supervisor Matthew Kemper
UNREAL SUPERVISOR STEFFEN REICHSTADT
Line Producer James Portolese
Produced by GUY BOTHAM & GARETH WEST
editor Russ Lamoureux
colorist Spencer Shwetz
music & sound wolf at the door