VA Corporation hopes to lead virtual production field through commercial virtual scouting platform 'V Stage'

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : December 1, 2022, 17:51 Updated : February 10, 2023, 23:04

[Photograph by Lee Sang-woo =]

SEOUL -- VA Corporation, a virtual production company in South Korea, will release a commercial virtual scouting service that pre-visualizes filming locations and sets in a virtual environment. Without making a site visit, content creators can check backgrounds and environments through web pages while actualizing backgrounds by choosing and designing locations just by setting cameras and arranging lights in advance.

VA Corporation's platform called "V Stage" efficiently helps creators customize the background of content depending on their filming concept. It would be the world's first platform that allows content developers to visualize difficult locations to visit such as deserts and jungles. The filming environment can be monitored with a 360-degree camera.

"Web-based virtual scouting is a service that has not yet been tried," VA producer Choi Chan said in a media event on November 30 at VA's virtual production studio in Hanam, a southwestern satellite city of Seoul. "Time efficiency can be guaranteed during the pre-production stage because filming locations can be selected and designed in advance."

V Stage has actualized 3,100 three-dimensional spaces. "There has been no case that attempted (rolling out) web-based virtual scouting platforms that allow users to check all 3D environmental assets as if they are in the actual location," Choi said. Assets refer to 3D spaces used as backgrounds in virtual production. The platform was used to actualize Seoul in 1988 for "Seoul Vibem," a 2022 Netflix action film featuring dynamic car-chasing scenes. 

Virtual scouting reduces the time required during the pre-production stage, and allows creators to use the optimal setting checked in advance immediately after visiting the virtual production studio. The virtual environment can be examined with a 360° camera, so it is possible to easily check filming composition and scenes. 

VA will upgrade the beta version of V-Stage, launched in September 2022, by storing data on the movement of virtual humans. Artificial intelligence will be incorporated to combine various items to create unique backgrounds naturally. "We will upgrade the functions of V Stage, user experience, and user interface while increasing the utilization of virtual production studios by assisting communication between users through the establishment of asset storing and community functions," said VA director Ko Byung-hyun.
The virtual production studio is emerging as an efficient content creation tool, as it seamlessly combines physical and virtual elements using a suite of software tools. Studios can save time and money by filming on a stage and viewing virtual graphics together in real-time. Visual effects (VFX), a technique which incorporates computer graphics (CG) elements to produce realistic imagery, are worked on and iterated throughout pre-production.

In May 2022, CJ ENM, the South Korean entertainment group that produced the Oscar-winning 2020 film "Parasite," opened a virtual production stage featuring connected cameras and a massive micro light-emitting diodes screen. SK Telecom, a top mobile carrier in South Korea, has formed a consortium with three virtual production companies to expand a domestic media ecosystem through its visual effects studio.

"We are presenting a new paradigm for content production by leading the growth of virtual production with preemptive investment, technology, and best partners in the domestic market," Ko said. 
VA's virtual production studio covering about 15,000 square meters has used the real-time rendering technology of game engines. The studio has facilities optimized for realistic content production such as LED wall stages that create realistic graphics, as well as VFX equipment and an extended reality (XR) operating system. XR refers to all digital environments created using virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. 

The key technology incorporated in a virtual production studio is "in-camera visual effects (ICVFX)," an innovative technique that enables users to film multiple scenes and locations after setting up LED walls in front of actors in a studio. With ICVFX, LED walls create unprecedented levels of lighting and reflection accuracy. Less time spent on lighting and tweaking creates more time to focus on capturing the actual shoot.
"There was no case in which a movie or drama was completely produced with a virtual production method," VA's chief convergence officer Kim Woo-hyung said, adding that the company is trying to improve its production quality required in the film industry. 

VA aims to build a comprehensive content union that can cover the entire production of content and distribution. In May 2022, the company unveiled its scheme to acquire the metaverse broadcasting production company ROOT M&C, a metaverse company specializing in virtual reality and augmented reality content. The company has already made strategic investments in Amberlin, a performance content company known for producing AR and XR content with CJ ENM for various concerts including KCON, an annual Korean culture convention for global fans.

VA is also working with LG's AI research institute to actualize a digital human. In February 2022, the two companies opened a joint research center in Hanam to develop LED walls optimized for ICVFX.
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