July 5, 2018

Steven Spielberg Shows Us The Power of VR in Pre-Production

The production of futuristic 'Ready Player One' was the beneficiary of some very futuristic technology.

Steven Spielberg and the folks at Industrial Light and Magic have never been afraid of pushing the entire filmmaking industry into new and experimental paths. So it should come as no surprise that, in creating their very expensive VR movie Ready Player One, they used some very expensive VR in pre-production.

Ready Player One premiered at this year's SXSW before going on to earn $581 million worldwide. In the film, when the creator of a mega-popular virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will transfer his considerable fortune to the finder.

Steven Spielberg directing in VR
Steven Spielberg directing in VR from the 'Ready Player One' Blu-ray special features.
From the looks of this behind the scenes video from CinemaBlend, however, the VR wasn't just some hokey gimmick the filmmakers played around with due to cash flow; it was instrumental to every aspect of the film's production. A team of VR artists took the concept art from the Art Director of Virtual Production and built out every character, prop, vehicle and environment. With everything in place, the production team then had the opportunity to use VR as a tool for tech scouting. 

Since every single set was created virtually, Spielberg simply had to slip on a helmet and he'd be transported into the world that they were creating. As he walked the virtual sets, his avatar carried a camera so he could literally take frame shots and record video inside the universe. What's more, as he did this, a team of VFX artists on standby could adjust any note he had about the set design in real time to match his direction.

We had the chance to check out ILM/Lucasfilm's Virtual Production toolset in person, and it'll be interesting in the future to see if this sort of technology can transfer into the independent film world. For now, it seems ideal in the blockbuster realm, as productions continue to lean further and further into CGI.     

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July 30, 2018 at 6:29AM

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