LED Wall Virtual Production

LED video wall virtual production, game-changer in film making

What is LED video wall virtual production?

LED video wall virtual production uses a dynamic background to match the perspectives and parallax from the camera during the film-making and makes the camera able to shoot photoreal photography. This is a revolutionary way for virtual production that can produce stunning visuals at the site.

The editable virtual elements on the LED wall are rendered by the real-time engines in combination with a motion tracker that senses where the camera is and how it is moving. The camera can dynamically move in space accompanying the background environment and visual elements. The virtual sets on the wall look the same as the physical set pieces, which can also interact with props freely as needed.

This new end-to-end virtual production solution is a game-changer. It is replacing the traditional green screens in the virtual studios of film-making due to many advantages. Disney and ILM has produced state of the art visuals in their movies with this new technology already.

Advantages of LED Wall Virtual Productions

1, Replacing green screens, avoiding green spills issues

The green screen was firstly put in use in broadcasting. But green screens have the issues of green spill and poor interactive lighting on the characters in the film-making.

The LED wall as a background undoubtedly reduces the demand for green screens. It helps to create a 3D immersive space for shooting under the functions of Unreal Engine and tracking software. Even if you need a green screen in some areas, you can make a small green patch behind the actor as needed, and the rest of the surrounding LED wall can still produce the correct background and lighting.

2, Creating mass visual effects real-time without costly real-scene production

The game engine creates complex visual effects from perspective of the camera on the surrounded LED screens in real time.

You can change the backdrop instantly without any downtime, for example, adjusting the lighting or adding any animation in real-time. And the camera can capture all things like multiple sets, environments and landscapes on a single stage without causing high cost for actual production.

Furthermore, the LED digital wall can achieve the turnaround with far less time.

But in the traditional production, in order to change the background scenery, a turnaround physically has to move the crew, actors, prop and all the devices. It has to consume hours or days to make it. 

Picture from https://www.fxguide.com/

3, Actors can know what they are looking at.

In this immersive environment, actors can see the real scenery, realize their position on the stage, and better adjust their performance. It avoids tiredness and special disorientation caused by long-time watching green screens. They can also provide their new creative ideas for visual effects during photography.

4, Directors can make adjustments on set.

This new solution can easily prepare several performance options with different lighting, camera positions and stage orientations for directors and filmmakers. The director can immediately check the final effect through the camera lens and make adjustments. Before post-production, it will have greatly reduced costs.

Picture from https://www.fxguide.com/

5, Improving the teamwork efficiency

In the workflow of film-making, it always required combining the talents of different aspects. With this technology, crew members can view the feeds from multiple cameras directly. This improves the collaboration efficiency and brings many new ideas. And it also makes remote collaboration easier for the partner from any place in the world.

6, Workflow has changed with less cost

LED wall virtual production transfers many roles from post-production to post-production. Many VFX can be completed before all the photography is completed. The artist can prepare the frame and visualize the scene before shooting. Although some animations may still be required after the main photography, much post-production corrections are reduced.

Therefore, the new method completely changes the workflow. Shooting can be reduced by about 50%, and the overall progress becomes shorter. Finally, it will greatly reduce the total cost and time-consuming of film production.

7, Getting perfect lighting and adjusting it accurately and easily

Correct lighting is essential to make the right digital environment for photography. The digital LED wall features dimming the lighting accurately and providing correct highlights and reflections to the actors. It is easy for the cinematographer to take advantage of their expertise to get perfect real-world lighting from the surrounding LED screens in the scene to suite all the needs.

Something you need to care about when using LED digital wall for VFX

Test the virtual effects and match the real and virtual elements

The design team needs to render some virtual sets on the LED wall before the formal production and test every location. During this process, they will also create some practical pieces. Sometimes, the real props also extend to the virtual world. So, the team should make sure the real and virtual elements are matching each other.

Adjust the lighting and color

Since the LED screen is the light source, the physical props will be illuminated by the LED wall, and they will also reflect colors from the screen. When adjusting the color of the digital wall, you need to pay attention to the lighting cast on the real parts and actors. At the same time, the reflected light from the physical items(especially large objects) will also illuminate the LED wall. Therefore, all lighting and its reflections should be considered.

In the outside filming, if you want to get a strong exterior lighting profile to produce the sharp shadow for the actors, the brightness of LED wall may be not enough. Then you could still consider adding some traditional strong spot lights.

Picture from https://www.fxguide.com/

Hide the seamline between screen and floor

The LED wall is fixed on the truss structure. In order to stack the screens flatly, without any gaps between the panels, and to protect the fragile LED diodes at the bottom, the LED wall is always a little higher than the floor. There will be a seam line between the bottom of the LED screen and the floor. You can try to use the props to hide the corners or place something like grass or rocks on the ground to hide the seams.

Avoid big noise and defocus in the box-shape digital stage

The LED wall wraps the stage like a box. They stand on the right, left, and back, and hang from the ceiling. In this half-sealed box-shaped space, you can easily hear the sound just a few meters away. Therefore, it is best to keep it as quiet as possible to avoid large noises in the camera.

From the camera’s lens, the scene looks like many meters away, but actually it might be only half meter away. The digital wall is too close, which may cause defocus. So you need to amend this in the post-production.

Avoiding moire issues

On the camera lens, moire pattern may appear on the LED screen, especially when shooting in short distance. This is not good for the visual effect to be created. By adding some seamless diffusion panels in front of the screen or just adjusting the distance, unnecessary moire can be reduced.

Besides, there are also other things need to care such as removing the motion-tracking IR cameras in the post-production, solving the slight latency from camera to the Unreal rending on LED screens, etc. 

In a word, the final goal is getting a good LED screen performing well in front of camera.

What are the specifications for a good on-camera LED screen in virtual production?

Passo de pixel

The pixel pitch is the distance between the centers of adjacent pixels. Currently, the LED screen technology is able to make P0.9mm that has been used in Broadcast. There is optimal viewing distance for different pixel pitch screen, which is 8feet*pixel pitch. A suitable pixel pitch is also helpful to reduce the moire pattern. Regarding the moire pattern and other things in the stage, a comfortable shooting distance is about 12~20 feet away from the LED screen. So the good pixel pitch for the stage is 1.5mm~3mm such as 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 2.6mm, 2.8mm, 2.9mm or 3mm.

Brilho

1500~2000 nits is enough. A good light level can get the camera work well with suitable setting for shutter and aperture. Furthermore, the distance from the actor and the camera to the screen is relatively short. So it often doesn’t need to run at full brightness. If it is too lower, it won’t be enough to create enough lighting. And a dark screen may influence the camera’s sensitivity. In addition, for the small pitch led display around P2, the brightness of 2000 is already very high.

Viewing Angle

It is better to have the viewing angle as wide as possible.

The LED is composed of red/green/blue three-color chips. The three chips are usually arranged vertically in a line. If you shoot the screen from the top or bottom at a narrow angle close to 180°, you may only see red or blue, but other colors will be obscured. This will cause color shift.

The second reason is that because there is plastic mask over the LED lamps for protection. The LEDs are actually surrounded by a little higher plastic “wall”. It means if camera shoots at very sharp angle, it may also cause the color shift.

Curved

Making a curved LED screen on the stage will expand the viewing angle. So a LED panel has the ability for curve within 10° is important.

Peso

When you install the screen around the stage like a box, it is best to use a lightweight LED panel. The left, right, and rear LED walls are stacking on the floor, which is ok for normal weight LED panels. But for the LED wall on the top roof, it is best to obtain a very lightweight cabinet that is easy to lift and does not require a heavy and complex supporting truss structure.

Picture from https://www.fxguide.com/

Summary

Pixel pitch: 0.9~3mm

Brightness: >1500 Nits

Weight: Less than 30KG/sqm

Curved angle: 10 °

HDR:  10/12 bit

Refresh rate: 3840 Hz

Frame frequency: 144 FPS

Color processing: 16bit

Contrast: 5000:1

Installation:  Hanging / Stacking

3CINNO Related LED Product for Virtual Production

In addition to the LED display, what other basic equipment is needed?

LED Controller

Novastar video controllers such as MCTRL4K, VX4S

Brompton: SX40 processor, R2 cards

Rendering engine

Unreal Engine is one of the best engines for high-quality virtual production. Its professional performance can easily make ideas come true.

Motion tracking

OptiTrack is a good choice to ensure precision motion capturing perfectly combing LED displays and Cameras in the virtual production.

Cameras

The leader brands like Sony, Arri, and Red Digital Cinema have some models that works well with tracking system and the game engines.

Some Applications of LED Wall Virtual Production

In 2019, Epic Games cooperated with Lux Machina, Magnopus, Profile Studios, Quixel, Arri and DP Matt Workman has produced a demo by using LED walls to create virtuals.

For Mandalorian Season 1, more than 50% of shots were filmed in the digital wall environment that was made up of 20’ height 270-degree semicircular LED screens and a 75’-diameter LED display ceiling. ILM, Epic Games, Fuse, Lux Machina, Profile Studios, NVIDIA, and Arri worked together to make The Mandalorian come true.

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About 3CINNODisplay

3CINNODisplay as a custom-solution-based LED display manufacturer has a team with more than 15 years of experience in the LED screen industry. We are committed to finding the best solution in different environments. Therefore, in your film virtual production studio, we will provide you most suitable LED displays that perform well in front of the lens.

If you need a custom LED wall for virtual effect production in movie making, please don’t hesitate to contact us for suggestions or quotations.

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