Quriosity, SMASH Team Up for Ambitious and Eye-Opening Virtual Production

Could you ever imagine being able to capture five completely different worlds, using only one filming location… and all in under four hours? Quriosity Productions and their Director David Gil tackled this daunting task in their latest production, filmed at SMASH Virtual, the only dedicated virtual production studio in Chicago. The purpose of the shoot was to show SMASH’s and Quriosity’s clients all of the capabilities and efficiencies of shooting on a virtual stage.

How did the Quriosity team pull off this ambitious mission? First, let’s take a look at what they created within those four hours at SMASH…

In the first half of the day, the team set up and filmed interviews and walk and talk sequences in five unique environments. The second half of the day was dedicated to their clients who were welcomed both in person and virtually through a live streamed presentation. Quriosity’s virtual production at SMASH was accomplished just hours before presenting to clients and demonstrated how remarkable and beneficial this technology can be.

SCREEN spoke with Director David Gil and Executive Producer and Founder of Quriosity, Qadree Holmes, about their virtual shoot.

SCREEN: David and Qadree, thanks for stopping by! What about this particular production and technology has the potential to be a game changer for the industry?

DAVID: As with any new tech in our industry, one of the first thoughts is “this is going to change everything!” All new tech should allow for change and hopefully ease in how we do our jobs. Is it a game changer?  Well, fundamentally (and I’ll only speak with what I know) that is marketing and commercials, our work still relies on the creativity and skills of crafts people. As marketers we need to do just that, market. The tools we use will change and technology will inevitably drive that to a certain degree. Our work lies at the crossroads of marketing, creativity and technology. It is up to us how those balance.

From film to digital, digital to HD, those of us who lived through that change were constantly saying or hearing, “this is a game changer.” Foundationally, it may have been on other levels, but the art and skills remain.  Virtual production is yet another evolution in how we do our jobs and make media, be it for marketing or storytelling.

QADREE: The perks of virtual production are endless. There are so many variables that we can control in the virtual volumetric space that we can’t in real production. It gives clients the ability to customize in a way that they have not been able to in the past and increased flexibility that a built or practical set does not have. We can also move from one set up to another with ease and less time than a built set.  

With this technology it’s possible to “travel to” London, the Caribbean and a war zone over the course of a single day. The ability to not worry about weather, locations, permitting fees and to still have a realistic looking location is huge.

The Quriosity and Smash Virtual teams collaborated for a one-of-a-kind production

SCREEN: What did you find most compelling about this particular effort?

DAVID: My own personal work has evolved greatly throughout the years.  I began making Vidoc’s for Activision and Call of Duty among other big name gaming clients, when it was just me as a one-man band dragging my Arri Light kit and an audio operator from developer to developer for Ant Farm interviewing the people creating the games.

As the years went by, the agency and myself were able to mold these pieces into something more substantive and aesthetic. The brands were looking to get these videos to connect to the look of the ever-increasing realism of the games. We started to use multi cameras, big lighting, and eventually building sets to match the game as a way to synergize the look. We were tasked to build sets or utilize preexisting locations that matched the game environments.  

As I became more and more aware and educated about virtual production, it hit me that this was the next logical step to the creative journey I was already doing. What better of a way to interweave the look of the game than to actually be able to place these developers and creators within the maps and environments themselves? Let them walk around in a space that they created, not just a real life set that sort of looked like it, but the actual places these developers spent years creating? And that is a giant advantage of virtual production over building a set or even using a LED screen. By including real life set pieces and lighting we can create that illusion matching if not exceeding what a real-life set can give us.

It all seemed like a perfect fit. That is until I got to pitching it. As is any time something new comes along, no one wants to be the first. There are a lot of preconceived ideas or challenges that every producer feels.  Everyone in our industry is constantly bombarded with new tech and it takes some time and effort to really try to wrap your head around it.  No one wants to be that one who tries and it doesn’t work or adds more headaches. 

After having spoken to my long-time clients and agency producers, we at Quriosity thought let’s put our money where our mouth is and just show them. That is when we decided to do our own presentation and show off how specifically it can look.  We addressed concerns and misconceptions, which by all accounts, truly enlightened our clients. There was a real “ah-ha” moment for a lot of them. Myself and the team at Quriosity are certainly glad we did it.

To us it’s a new tool and a new way we can do some productions. We hope that those interested in this tech look to us to help bring them to it.

Now let’s wrap up with a quick look behind the scenes of this ambitious production…

For more from Quriosity Productions, click right here.

For more from Smash Virtual Studios, click right here.

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