BGH1: Creating a Volumetric Studio
BGH1: Creating a Volumetric Studio
Springbok Entertainment uses LUMIX BGH1 cameras to create immersive AR/VR stories
Founded in 2015 by Brandon Zamel and Steven-Charles Jaffe, Springbok Entertainment is a unique production company that sits at the cross section of storytelling and emerging technologies. Zamel previously ran digital interactive content for Johnny Depp’s production company while Jaffe comes from the feature film and television world, producing several successful films such as Ghost, Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country, Strange Days, and more.
For the past few years, Springbok Entertainment has been producing AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) projects for fine art installations, philanthropic work, and narrative film. Recently they w
Now, Springbok Entertainment is investing more time and resources in building a volumetric video pipeline.
A still from The 100%, Springbok Entertainment's VR film that tells the true-life story of professional ballerina Maggie Kudirka. (All photos courtesy of Springbok Entertainment)
Creating Volumetric Video
Volumetric video is created by
Springbok Entertainment is currently using 12 BGH1s for volumetric capture, either fully wrapped around a subject, or
According to Maliszewski, their camera ring is not tied to a specific location and can be reconfigured or recalibrated if they want to point the cameras in a specific direction instead of a full 360-degrees. They’re also able to reconstruct without a green screen. “I'm genlocking all of the cameras and getting them to be frame accurate,” he revealed. “If in a single frame
Springbok Entertainment team is currently using 12 BGH1 cameras for volumetric capture, either fully wrapped around a subject, or
in a 180-degree semi-circle
The BGH1s are capturing 4K/30p H.265 files in-camera. Since they are using the texture for projection and not reconstruction, Maliszewski feels H.265 is a viable format. They’re also capturing in V-Log to capture as much dynamic range as possible. Also, depending on the pipeline, they will dial in different levels of sharpness and/or contrast. “The cameras match up freakishly well right out of the box,” said Maliszewski. “There’s very little color matching that we need to do.”
For volumetric capture, it’s important to light very flat and because the cameras need to be precisely calibrated, Maliszewski keeps the moving parts to a minimum. The team uses wide-angle Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D prime lenses that match the depth cameras in terms of field of view. “Once the focus is set, it's set,” he explained. “There’s no changing of zoom or swapping of lenses because while the tolerances are good, switching between lenses could mean that something can be off by a pixel.”
Depending on the project, Springbok Entertainment primarily works within Unity, a real-time 3D gaming engine that has transitioned into other industries, including film and automotive. According to Zamel, working in Unity looks like a video game. “If we’re in a narrative structure, we have our script, and then it's essentially an assembly of all those different components until we get to where we want to go,” revealed Zamel. “If we're doing a more traditional piece, then it looks more like a VFX pipeline. It really depends on what the project calls for.”
To monitor and control settings to the BGH1s, the team used the LUMIX Tether for Multicam application.
“Because there's a significant amount of processing that needs to be done to all the footage,” said Maliszewski, “we only process the footage that we're going to use. There's a lot of pre-vis in advance to figure out the blocking, making sure everything works right there. Before we process the footage, we'll do rough cuts with
According to Maliszewski, syncing multiple BGH1s and controlling them as one has enabled a workflow that did not exist before. Before working with the BGH1s, he would be working with either a webcam or some sort of computer-based Ethernet camera, which did not capture a cinematic look, or provide wide dynamic range. “Other box cameras at the closest price point give you multiple sync between cameras, but they don't give you back control, or the ease of use of by powering over Ethernet while
Many of the tools that originated in the video gaming industry are becoming fundamental tools for film and TV production and major tech companies are investing time and resources into augmented and mixed reality. Zamel wants Springbok Entertainment to be at the forefront of new technology to create a better experience, or tell a better story. At the same time, he is cautious not to overstep and rely on this technology, which could come at the cost of the experience.
Springbok Entertainment's camera ring with BGH1s genlocked in order for them to be frame accurate.
“The technology can't be the feature, the technology needs to be there to support the storyteller,” explained Zamel. “In relation to this conversation, what Panasonic has enabled in our workflow is the ability to incorporate a type of capture that we are huge believers in. Not just for the stories we want to tell, but where we believe the industry is going as a whole.”
According to Maliszewski, a big part of the investments in AR/VR technology involves getting real objects, people, and performances that are both believable and low cost in terms of data and rendering. “This is something that is niche right now,” said Maliszewski, “but as these technologies are progressing, it’s going to become a vital foundation for how content will be viewed in the future.
“It’s not going to replace movie theaters or television in terms of passive entertainment,” he continued. “But when it gets to a point where you need to see a virtual person, or hologram, right in front of you, this is the way to do that. I’m excited to see how that progresses in the same way that the DSLR was for the independent filmmaker.”
The Netflix-approved BGH1 contains a 10.2-megapixel Live MOS Sensor with Dual Native ISO technology. You can also output via HDMI and 3G-SDI simultaneously and includes timecode and genlock BNC ports, and more.
For more information on Springbok Entertainment, visit their official website here.