Checking in on virtual filmmaking with Dreamspace

The VPET (Virtual Production Editing Tool) app developed out of Dreamspace.

While attending FMX in the past few years, I’ve been checking in on the Dreamspace project. It was an European Commission project that brought together several entities in computer graphics, VFX and filmmaking to look at virtual production techniques.

These entities included The Foundry, ncam, Stargate Studios, CreW, Saarland University, iMinds and Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg – some pretty big names in the industry.

The project has now been concluded and some of the findings – including a demo of a virtual production app – were just presented at SIGGRAPH Asia by Volker Helzle, Head of Research & Development, Curriculum Coordinator Technical Director Course at Filmakademie.

Volker Helzle.

“Dreamspace has two major strands,” Helzle told me here at SIGGRAPH Asia. “One is typical virtual production for visual effects and filmmaking in general, with a very strong focus on collaboration. How can we creatively collaborate on set and do changes in real-time but maintain established pipelines, so we can do these changes in a real-time environment and then go back into final post-production and apply fixes or do the final 10 per cent.”

“The second strand was immersive experiences – how can we use those technologies to tell stories in a different way and immerse people in them? It’s been a very interesting combination of different skillsets and different partners bringing different skillsets.”

After a couple of years of research, which included areas of real-time rendering, depth matting, VR, immersive experiences and other virtual production techniques, a number of prototypes have been made available for the community to check out.

One is the virtual production editing tools (VPET) developed by Animationsinstitut of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg – it’s essentially a tablet app that can be used to consider set layout, lighting and animation. The app relies on Unity and includes a KATANA plug-in for lookdev and lighting.

You can see VPET in action in the video below.

For more information on what is available out of the Dreamspace project, check out their downloads page.