In what should come as no surprise to anyone, studios are continuing to explore virtual production technology to see if it might eventually be the best—and most cost-efficient—way to shoot their big-budget blockbusters.

While we’ve been following the latest news and updates in virtual production for some time, this does appear to be the first major sign that Hollywood is pushing to fully integrate this virtual technology into their biggest projects moving forward.

Let’s take a look at this new “cameraless” real-time virtual production setup created by Sony and how it’s being used to shoot a proof-of-concept scene for a potential new Ghostbusters movie.

Sony’s Visual Effects Using Real-Time Technology

Showcased at this year’s Sony Creators Conference and developed in collaboration with Ghost Corps, Pixomondo, PlayStation Studios, and Epic Games, Sony Pictures Technologies has unveiled its latest developments in real-time game engine technology with this new proof-of-concept project.

As part of a so-called "proof of concept," a scene for a new Ghostbusters film was produced using real-time rendering, the showcase featured a panel of Sony execs and representatives from the various developing brands, as well as filmmaker Jason Reitman—who took the helm to the Ghostbusters franchise from his father Ivan with the latest installment Ghostbusters: Afterlife in 2021.

What’s interesting about this presentation and this new technology has to do with its “cameraless” virtual production style and it intends to allow developers to use this real-time game engine to produce a scene live on a motion capture set (as opposed to having actors in suits mark everything out first).

The Future of Real-Time Virtual Film Production

Now, it doesn’t quite appear that this project is truly meant to fully replace regular film and television production right away. From the samples shared in the presentation and later uploaded online, it doesn’t look any more sophisticated than what you’d see in the cutscene of a video game like Fortnite (developed by Epic Games).

But what is interesting is the flexibility this does offer filmmakers in the future. With this “cameraless” virtual production setup, directors (and art directors) can truly tailor pretty much every aspect of a shot down to the minute detail, including unpredictable elements like daylight and the environment overall.

This tech would differ from lots of the current virtual production setups too, which work more as interactive green screens centered around providing virtual backdrops and elements to add to your in-camera recording, but it also appears to be a bit more immersive than just traditional CGI work as well.

Will We Eventually Get a Fully Virtually Produced Ghostbusters?

So, now that we’ve seen this proof-of-concept film come out, the biggest question is obviously whether or not this is going to be used in this next Ghostbusters movie. The fact that the Sony team has brought Jason Reitman into the project so early does make it seem like they want him to truly test if this technology would make sense for a new movie.

From the panel discussion, Reitman does have high praise for the tech in just how much flexibility and customization it offers him. However, we’ll have to wait and see how the CG elements develop over time as the video above certainly doesn’t look like blockbuster cinema quality just yet.