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Virtual production: motion control and real-time preview at Stiller Studios

Post courtesy of Unrealengine |
Located in Sweden, Stiller Studios is one of the most technically advanced VFX studios in the world. It can offer its clients advanced motion control and motion capture equipment, housed within a huge pre-lit green-screen space, all tied together with live real-time preview on set, courtesy of Unreal Engine. What makes this all the more interesting is that CEO Patrik Forsberg describes himself as “an old-school director.”
Stiller Studios focuses on intricate motion control work, where virtual and real camera positions and paths need to be perfectly matched and output in real time as usable data. But how did this all start?
In the early days, Forsberg was grappling with getting the perfect green-screen shot. He went to Mark Roberts Motion Control in London to purchase a small robot for moving his camera a meter or two, and came back with a Cyclops motion-control rig weighing in at 4.6 tons and with the ability to reach up to six meters in the air.
“They had this giant beast standing right behind me, and I guess it was something that they thought of, because your age doesn’t really matter—you’re always gonna be a boy,” laughs Forsberg. “And I got home with that 4.6-ton unit.”
Once the Cyclops was installed in the studio, it was initially hooked up to some Autodesk products. However, in the last five or six years, Stiller Studios started working with real-time engines, and today the motion control data goes directly into Unreal Engine.
“It’s like having a 16-meter track with a six-meter crane on it, but it sends out FBXs and camera positions, lens data, everything, so you can live-mix it in Unreal,” says Forsberg. “You can see live action on top of computer-generated imagery in perfect sync. What we want to provide is a way for the director to see the full picture […] on the screen, and that includes light directions, shadows, interactions with everything.”

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