Virtual production is attracting attention as a cutting-edge video shooting technology. What are the advantages of using this technology for video advertising? Here, we’ll introduce the potential of virtual production as well as some points of caution that we learned from actually using it to create video ads.
1. What is virtual production?
Conventional composite filming uses a method called chroma key compositing, in which images are combined in the editing process against a green background called a green screen. Virtual production, on the other hand, is a method of shooting in a virtual space. Filming takes place in a background created with 3D computer graphics displayed on a giant screen. This background is linked to the camera’s positional information and lens focal length, so it moves in sync with the camera’s movements. This creates the effect of filming inside computer graphics.
If motion capture (a technology that digitally records the movements of real people and objects) is a way for humans to enter the world of computer graphics, then virtual production is a technology that makes computer graphics a reality.
2. The four advantages of virtual production from a marketing perspective
Next, we’ll cover some advantages of shooting using virtual production from a marketing perspective.
AAdvantage 1: Bringing out the best of what the products have to offerd customizer specifications
Virtual production realizes in live action what had previously been processed by compositing. For example, with virtual production, it’s possible to photograph the inside of transparent glass or a car body with the surrounding scenery reflected in it. Enabling subtle expressions that could only be achieved with live-action photography maximizes the appeal of the product.
Advantage 2: Bringing down costs
Virtual production also eliminates expensive compositing costs. For example, cropping hair using chroma key compositing used to take a tremendous amount of time and money. Online editing, which includes compositing, color adjustment, and message insertion, is the most expensive post-production process and accounts for a significant percentage of the budget. These post-production costs can be eliminated with virtual production. In addition, weather doesn’t affect indoor shooting, so the cost of securing a backup shooting day can also be eliminated.
Advantage 3: The ultimate pursuit of the best expression
It’s not uncommon to see filming problems causing quality projects that attractively represent a company or product to be terminated. For example, it’s often difficult to actually visit and shoot at an ideal location or to obtain permission to shoot a high-rise scene (such as footage from an airplane in the sky or from outside a high-rise building). With virtual production, it’s easy to realize video expressions that look like they were shot by a drone or helicopter, and ideal settings can be created without having to ask for permission.
Another major advantage over shooting with green screens is that it’s easier for actors to perform because the background is closer to the finished product. Also, it’s safer to shoot stunts and other scenes that would otherwise be dangerous.
Other advantages include the ability to repeatedly shoot scenes that involve situations lasting only for a few moments, such as sunsets. With virtual production, you can shoot night scenes involving child actors during the day and even shoot delicate items like new cars because everything can be done indoors.
Increasing the feasibility of the project will greatly improve the quality of the video.
Advantage 4: Verifying creatives
With video ads, it’s important to conduct AB tests and other verifications repeatedly on delivery to find winning creative patterns and produce results. Virtual production is effective in that respect as well. Since backgrounds can be replaced in around 30 minutes, it’s easy to conduct AB testing for backgrounds only and conduct verifications that had previously been abandoned due to schedule and budget constraints.
With virtual production, you can create and test several patterns by changing the background setting. For example, you can test whether the same meal scene would perform better with a background featuring the great outdoors or one featuring an urban high-rise.
That’s why virtual production is a very powerful tool for bringing out winning creatives.
3. The importance of virtual production in the COVID era
Filming is currently subject to many constraints due to the spread of Covid-19. For example, shooting overseas has become more difficult, budgets have been slashed, and shooting in large groups has been restricted. Computer graphics has great potential to become the new standard shooting style because it overcomes such restrictions. Ideal backgrounds can be shot on-site with the minimum number of people, and that background can then be combined with people and products through virtual production shooting.
4. Points of caution when using virtual production
We discussed the advantages of virtual production, but we also want to share some points of caution that we learned from actually using it to create ads.
Point 1: Background selection
Still images can be used as backgrounds for virtual productions, but there are many detailed conditions that must be satisfied. For example, the image not only needs to have the right number of pixels, but the camera also has to lean in and pull out at the correct angle. Selecting the right background has a significant impact on the overall quality of the final deliverable, so it’s essential to have staff members who have specialized knowledge.
Point 2: Camerawork
Because the camera and the background projected by the virtual production move in sync, the camera is not flexible in terms of movement. Therefore, although this might not be a problem for experienced film crews, careful camera testing is required when using virtual production for the first time.
Virtual production makes it possible to realize what was once thought to be impossible. It is a tool that enables the perfect expression to be pursued while cutting costs. It’s expected to become the new standard during the Covid era. In addition, we believe that using it as a tool to find winning creativity rather than as an alternative shooting location will greatly expand the possibilities for video creativity in the future.
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Irep Inc. is an award-winning global digital marketing agency based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our headquarters are in Tokyo and our network spans more than 20 countries. In Japan, we are ranked No. 1 for performance-based marketing. We also offer highly specialized market entry, as well as integrated marketing and localization services. Since 1997, our data-driven solutions have effectively led our diverse international clientele to continuous success in Japan, Asia, and beyond.