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Sony unveils new Virtual Production Tool Set

2 minute read

Sony’s new Virtual Production Tool Set looks to improve the pre-production process and overhaul on-set workflows with total colour management.

Sony is announcing a new Virtual Production Tool Set to help improve pre-production and on-set workflows while taking into account the company’s unique position of being the vendor that makes everything in the chain. The new tool set works with the Sony VENICE and Sony’s Crystal LED (and other HDR-enabled LED walls) to improve performance and help solve common virtual production challenges such as colour matching and moiré to enhance in-camera visual effects.  

“The new Virtual Production Tool Set was born from the voice of our creative community who requested tools to help them leverage In-Camera VFX and improve the overall process,” said Sebastian Leske, Head of Cinema Business Development, Sony Europe. “Thanks to the continued feedback of our customers and our partnership with Epic Games, we were able to introduce this toolset after rigorous testing.” 

It has currently two main components.

The Camera and Display Plugin is a software plug-in for Unreal Engine that allows productions to identify and solve common virtual production workflow issues. For example, as individual cameras and LED walls have different colour characteristics, one of the most common workflow issues in virtual production is that the Virtual Art Department is unable to anticipate the actual color performance of specific cameras.

The plugin solves this common problem and others. When installed in Unreal Engine, the Virtual VENICE in the Camera and Display Plugin allows productions to reproduce the settings of the VENICE, VENICE 2, and Crystal LED display. This allows the VAD to create assets using the VENICE's colour pipeline during pre-production before the expensive business of crews being on set gets underway. 

The Virtual VENICE feature in the Camera and Display Plugin can also uniquely simulate the camera's exposure index and ND filters to recreate shallow depth of field and help productions identify lens choices during pre-production. This plug-in also displays a custom moiré alert, depending on the pixel pitch and other specifications of the wall, to help productions make changes to the camera position and camera movement during the pre-production process.

It’s not done there either. The settings of the Virtual VENICE camera and display plugin can easily be exported from the plug-in and transferred to the on-set VENICE and VENICE 2. Finally, the plug-in continues to provide productions with a moiré alert during the shoot – a helpful tool to identify issues that may not be obvious with on-set monitoring but could become apparent in post-production. 

The second component is Sony's new Color Calibrator, a simple and easy-to-use application for Windows 10 to ensure proper colour reproduction when shooting LED walls with the VENICE camera. The Color Calibrator eliminates the need for guesswork, reshoots, or complex LUTs on set or in post via an intuitive interface that improves on-set workflows by calibrating the look of LED walls, including HDR-enabled LED walls, to the intended look of the VENICE camera.

Sony reckons that what was previously a laborious task can now be completed in a matter of minutes; a test pattern is recorded on the production LED wall with the VENICE camera and the Color Calibrator application automatically analyzes the result. A 3D LUT is then generated which can be applied to the LED controller, color management tool or Unreal Engine. The calibration process is easy and repeatable.

Pricing? The good news here is that the Virtual Production Tool Set is free, but prospective users will have to wait as it won’t be released until summer or later this year. 

Tags: Virtual Production