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Starting Pixel Chat Summary - 5th Feb 2024

Updated: Mar 24

We run a weekly summary of the various conversations in the groups, so you don't have to keep up to day with all the live posting. Just sit back on the bus, in the bath or while watching the TV.

Monday, 05/02/2024

The group chat discussion on Monday focused on technical discussions about virtual production (VP) tools, Unreal Engine (UE) updates, and solving specific technical issues:

Virtual Scouting and Unreal Engine Updates:

Michael shared a link about virtual scouting, highlighting the ability to take key production members on virtual location scouts.

An unnamed participant expressed interest in the availability and delivery dates of accurate processors for VP.

A participant shared excitement about the VR mode in Unreal Editor and mentioned that Unreal 5.4 will introduce a refactored set of Virtual Scouting tools as part of the new XR Creative Framework, which they are already testing.

Technical Queries and Solutions:

Toni inquired about the inclusion of the Avalanche plugin in UE 5.4.

Rob sought help for an issue where the Output viewport goes black in VPPro when going into play mode.

A participant needed advice on playing a logo animation in the middle of a scene as an .mp4 file, facing issues displaying it on the wall through nDisplay.

It was confirmed that the Avalanche plugin is indeed included in the 5.4 source branch, with details about its experimental status and expected release speculation around March 18.

David suggested converting the .mp4 to an exr format and using the new media plate actor for versions 5.3 and above, providing a link to documentation.

The discussion included mentions of successful use of media plate in UE 5.1 and considerations regarding framerate for resolving display issues.

The conversation was rich in technical exchange, focusing on advancements in Unreal Engine for virtual production, troubleshooting technical challenges, and collaborative problem-solving among group members.

Thursday, 08/02/2024

The group chat on Thursday revolved around several key topics, including a significant business move by Disney, technical discussions regarding media formats in Unreal Engine, and considerations on virtual production and the metaverse.

Disney's Investment in Epic Games:

David shared a news link about Disney taking a $1.5 billion stake in Epic Games, sparking discussions on the implications of this move.

Participants speculated on how this investment might influence the landscape of gaming, virtual production, and the broader entertainment industry. There was a debate on whether Epic's recent layoffs were necessary in light of this investment and how it fits into a larger strategy, possibly related to the metaverse.

Technical Discussions on Media Formats:

The conversation included technical inquiries about the best media formats to use in Unreal Engine for performance, specifically regarding formats with an alpha channel.

Suggestions included using PNG sequences for smaller file sizes or HAP Alpha for compressed size and easier preview, despite potential frame delay issues.

David noted the limitations of Unreal in frame-locking video files, which could lead to drifts in long videos, and highlighted that HAP is only 8-bit, which might be a consideration depending on the content.

Virtual Production and the Metaverse:

Michael Davey and other participants discussed the future of virtual production (VP), immersive technologies, and their convergence with AI, cloud computing, and accelerated computing, envisioning a new era of "converged computing."

The conversation briefly touched on the challenges and opportunities in Latin America regarding technical capabilities and practice scenarios, with suggestions to leapfrog intermediate steps and focus on strategic investments in education and technology to close the gap.

The day's discussions showcased a blend of industry news analysis, deep technical advice on using Unreal Engine, and forward-looking insights into the convergence of technologies shaping the future of entertainment and virtual production.

Friday, 09/02/2024

The group chat on Friday continued with engaging discussions on several fronts, ranging from technical innovations, the role of virtual production (VP) in the evolving media landscape, to the integration of various technologies in creative processes.

Virtual Production and Technology Convergence:

Michael Davey initiated a dialogue on where VP fits within a broader technological diagram, sparking discussions on the convergence of cloud, immersive technologies, accelerated computing, and AI. The conversation touched on strategic approaches for Latin America to leapfrog into advanced telecommunications and technology, emphasizing education and English language proficiency.

Technical Shares and Discussions:

Michael shared a link about NVIDIA releasing a new free USD dataset showcasing VFX and animation production workflows. This dataset aims to demonstrate the use of OpenUSD in filmmaking-like production processes.

David Gray shared an article on the contraction in Hollywood, which led to a broader conversation about the impact of changing revenue models in the entertainment industry, including advertising and content production. This transition highlighted the growing significance of VP as a disruptive force, analogous to digital's impact on film and Uber on traditional taxi services.

Creative Processes and Virtual Production:

The discussions delved into the practical aspects of integrating VP into creative workflows, emphasizing the importance of visual planning, storyboard integration, and the potential of real-time previz tools to streamline the transition from concept to 3D environments.

A debate emerged on the role of VP supervisors and the need for a bridge between technical teams and executive decision-makers. The conversation highlighted the variability in the scope and integration of VP supervisors across different types of projects, from advertising to feature films.

Innovations and Future Directions:

Participants discussed the democratization of content creation through advanced production tools, predicting that future technologies would enable high-standard video content creation accessible to a wider audience, beyond traditional industry professionals.

The integration of automated AI chat translation in gaming (e.g., Roblox) and the potential for real-time language translation technologies were also touched upon, pointing to a future where technology bridges communication gaps across different languages and cultures.

New Members and Projects:

The group welcomed new members, including Philip from bright! studios, Germany, highlighting the international and interdisciplinary nature of the group. Discussions on AI-accelerated screenplay to 3D animated OpenUSD scenes for previz purposes illustrated the ongoing exploration of cutting-edge technologies to enhance creative processes.

The day's conversations showcased a vibrant exchange of ideas and insights on the integration of technology in creative industries, the evolving role of virtual production, and the potential for future innovations to transform content creation and global communication.

Summary for Sunday, 11/02/2024

The group's discussions on Sunday revolved around detailed technical inquiries about Unreal Engine (UE) functionalities, virtual production roles, and lens calibration, along with the welcoming of new members and sharing of insights from experienced professionals in the field.

Technical Discussions on Unreal Engine:

The conversation began with inquiries about UE5.3's camera node functionality and the use of multiple ArUco markers to align virtual cameras. Participants shared knowledge on existing UE capabilities, suggesting workarounds and technical setups for specific use cases, such as aligning virtual objects with real-life counterparts.

Virtual Production Roles and Responsibilities:

A significant part of the discussion focused on defining and distinguishing various roles within virtual production, such as the Virtual Gaffer, VP Supervisor, and the proposed "Director of Virtual Production." There was a rich exchange on the nuances of these roles, emphasizing the importance of clear definitions and responsibilities to streamline production processes and ensure effective communication and collaboration among team members.

Lens Calibration and Distortion:

Participants engaged in an in-depth discussion on lens calibration, the precision required for effective marker tracking, and methods to improve calibration accuracy within Unreal Engine. The conversation covered technical aspects of lens calibration and distortion, including the application of lens distortion to CG elements and the use of custom setups for achieving desired accuracy.

Insights and Experiences from Industry Professionals:

The group welcomed new members, sharing insights and experiences from various perspectives within the virtual production domain. Discussions highlighted the challenges and considerations in integrating virtual production techniques into traditional filmmaking processes, including budgeting, team dynamics, and the need for specialized knowledge and roles to bridge gaps between creative aspirations and technical realities.

Exploring Advanced Technical Solutions:

Participants explored advanced technical solutions for aligning virtual and real-world elements, including custom software tools and approaches to enhancing the precision of virtual object placement. The conversation underscored the collaborative nature of the group, with members openly sharing advice, technical solutions, and resources to address specific challenges.

The day's discussions showcased the group's commitment to advancing virtual production through shared knowledge, technical exploration, and collaborative problem-solving, reflecting a vibrant community of professionals dedicated to pushing the boundaries of technology and creativity in filmmaking.

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