GTC17EU & VR Concert Production Cycle
Thank you, NVIDIA, and thank you, Dominic,
for inviting me to the European edition of GTC, for bringing me back to southern Germany, where I met a lot of great and innovative people, and where I had the chance to see my best mate after almost two years.
I had the pleasure to give a presentation with the title: “Established Resources in Art and Music, New Realities in Performance”. A presentation that Fatih and I had already done at this year’s Digility in Cologne. As a few months passed, we had the chance to elaborate the presentation. It was basically about how you can use older production processes, to engage with a new technology such as VR. For our concert production, we roughly split the process in five steps: “pre-production”, “concept”, “recording”, “asset creation” and “world building”. Perhaps you have already noticed from the naming of the steps, that there must be some parallels to existing production cycles. Before producing, we always ask ourselves: Which standardized processes from the music industry can we utilize to accelerate the production? Which processes from the gaming industry can we use to ensure the quality of our virtual environments? And most importantly – as we’re producing content for VR – how our 3D artists can implement VR into their creation process for concepts, quick prototyping or even final assets.
Our chain starts with a very classical element from the concert industry: The pre-production. In here you’ll find processes like artist & location scouting, music licensing, artist and venue booking. Work that has been done for ages. There are still some particularities here and there, especially when talking about licensing music for VR.
Once we have the artists inhouse we start a very classical AV Production. We setup the artists in front of a green screen, do the microphone arrangement, setup the cameras and do quality management. As we are streaming and recording live performances, the authenticity of the performance is very important. We use different techniques for this and I just want to describe one example here:
The LA based band “Naked Elephant” visited us a few weeks ago. They rented a castle for a 360° video production with our friends from Spice VR. Naked Elephant invited to put up a studio in of the infinite rooms of the castle. As the whole team, including drone pilots, dancers, video crew, actors and so on, got interested, we decided to allow the to watch the recording session as long as they remained quiet during the whole performance. This weird but familial atmosphere put so much pressure on the artists and on the listening people, that the energy in that room was very intense. After the 20-minute performance, the team exploded in a long cheering, that i never experienced before – and you can see that in the results.
So be inventive when it comes to producing content and be aware of authenticity getting more and more important as the users have a better sensual perception in VR and can probably assume, when something just doesn’t feel right.
Concept Phase/Fast Prototyping
It seems to be obvious that the creative meeting is always the same whether it’s for a music video, a live concert or a video game. But additionally, to storyboards, moods or illustrations there is the special case of fast prototyping from the games industry, that helps you answering questions like: Will this concept work out for your use case? Is everybody on the same page? Is it fun? Because that’s what the concept is there for: To get everybody aligned towards the exact same goal. When we sit together with our clients or artists we often try to simultaneously sketch the scene in VR. With virtual reality, this process is about to get a lot easier. You will be able to produce your content inside virtual reality for virtual reality. We wasted a lot of hours on storyboarding and envisioning concerts on paper to sell the idea to the artist. The moment we started sketching and building an idea in VR was changing the way we worked forever. The moment you look inside a VR sketch you can already build up the missing parts in just a few seconds. Everybody knows exactly how things will be sized and feel like right from the start. There are tons of apps that allow you to sketch or sculpt in VR and this is not about which one you should use. Get the one you feel comfortable with and you are able to fast prototype faster and much closer to the final product.
The moment your team and client/artist already "visited" the final idea and agreed with it, you know you can begin with the creation of the necessary assets. For the music industry and other applicable industries, you now must project all those 2D / flat and miniature models and 3D sketches to the real world. You even should take physics into account. BUT - as you can sometimes see in Videogames or B2B applications, the creation process can also be the other way around. Here you often rebuild and capture reality to reinvent it in virtual space. The processes for this gets more and more sophisticated with photogrammetry and sculpting tools getting better and better and can also be much more forgiving because you can stay in the medium itself. The complexity of this part of the production is always based on the fact, that we had to put to much weight on clients/users/partners imagination before we had VR. Imagination is not just unique in everybody's mind but also very prone to errors and misunderstanding.
World Building/Level Design
That means we first put everybody trough created VR sketches, then export them into software where we create, process or finalize the 3D and audio assets, and can also combine them with real-world assets if we want to. Almost simultaneously these elements are put in place in the game engine to slowly build up towards the final stage.
I think that’s enough for now. Whenever you want to learn more about how things are done @NOYS VR, feel free to visit us, call us, email us, or post a comment on social media. Also, if you have some ideas on how to improve our production cycle, let us know – we’re happy for your feedback.