How Virtual Production Influences the Traditional Film Production Process

Learn how virtual production influences pre-production, production, and post-production stages.

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The film production process, traditionally segmented into pre-production, production, and post-production stages, is being significantly influenced by the incorporation of virtual production. This innovative approach is redefining traditional filmmaking workflows, offering enhanced creative possibilities and streamlined processes across all stages.

This blog post delves into the intricate changes virtual production brings to each stage of film production, highlighting how it's reshaping the industry and opening up new horizons in filmmaking.

The pre-production workflow

The pre-production phase of film production is a critical period where the foundation of the film is established. 

Initially, in the concept and development stage, writers and creators brainstorm and flesh out the story, characters, and plot, often culminating in a detailed script. This script, complete with dialogues and stage directions, undergoes numerous revisions to refine the narrative and pacing. Traditionally, scripts are text-based with limited visual elements. However, with virtual production, creators can start visualizing and experimenting with scenes much earlier. Knowing that they can virtually create any environment or scenario can inspire more ambitious and imaginative storytelling. Writers can envision scenes that would be impractical or impossible to shoot in the real world, such as fantastical landscapes, futuristic cities, or elaborate action sequences.

In the realm of planning and design, traditional storyboarding, budgeting, scheduling, and location scouting are essential components. Traditionally, location scouting involves physically visiting various sites to find the perfect real-world settings that match the script's requirements. This process can be time-consuming and expensive, especially when scouting distant or hard-to-access locations. Instead of imagining how a scene would look in a physical location, filmmakers can see how actors and props will interact with the virtual environment in the previsualization phase. The technology aids in accurately planning camera angles, lighting, and actor movements even before stepping onto the set. 

Directors and VFX supervisors play an integral role in the realm of virtual production. Their expertise is vital in determining which shots or scenes are best suited for this innovative method. Working in conjunction with key creatives such as production designers and directors of photography (DPs), they breathe life into these selected scenes.

The planning phase of virtual production presents a unique collaboration opportunity. Directors and VFX supervisors can join forces with the Virtual Art Department to identify the optimal shots for virtual production, while also pinpointing those that might be more effectively realized through traditional workflows.

This partnership doesn't stop at planning. The VFX team maintains a close working relationship with the Virtual Art Department throughout the production process. This ensures that the virtual environments created are not only visually captivating but also technically feasible for the intricate VFX work that follows in post-production.

This collaborative approach is key to maintaining consistency and realism in virtual production. The assets developed by the Virtual Art Department often serve as the basis for subsequent enhancements and effects by the VFX team. By fostering this symbiotic relationship, we ensure a seamless transition from initial concept to final product, showcasing the power and potential of virtual production.

Set design and construction, traditionally involving physical set building and location preparation, are revolutionized by virtual production. Instead of constructing extensive physical sets, filmmakers can design and modify virtual environments in real-time. This reduces the need for physical construction and allows for greater flexibility and creativity in set design. The traditional art department works in close relationship with the Virtual Art department to prepare to bring the virtual and physical sets together. Costumes, makeup, and props are still prepared, but their interaction with virtual elements is carefully planned to maintain consistency and realism in the film's visual language.

Meptik And Emily Rowed
Ford and Meptik

Casting remains a pivotal part of pre-production, where actors are carefully chosen through auditions to ensure they can bring the script to life. The performance quality significantly influences the film's success, and this process remains largely unchanged even in a virtual production environment.

Overall, virtual production in pre-production introduces a paradigm shift, particularly in pre-visualization, location scouting, and set design. It offers filmmakers unprecedented control and flexibility, allowing for intricate visual storytelling that seamlessly blends the real with the virtual. It not only enhances the creative process but can also lead to significant time and efficiencies on set.


1. Virtual production allows creators to visualize and experiment with scenes early on, inspiring more ambitious storytelling with environments that might be impractical in real life.

2. Enhanced previsualization in virtual production aids in accurate planning of camera angles, lighting, and actor movements before actual filming.

3. Collaboration between directors, DPs, VFX supervisors, and the Virtual Art Department is crucial in determining the blend of virtual and traditional techniques for each shot.

4. Virtual production revolutionizes set design, allowing filmmakers to create and modify virtual environments in real- time, reducing the need for physical set construction.

The Production Workflow

This stage marks the actual shooting of the film, involving intricate collaboration between the director, cast, and crew on set to meticulously capture each scene as envisioned. The introduction of virtual production marks a significant shift from the traditional workflow, bringing about a fusion of advanced technology and conventional practices. 

In traditional film settings, considerable time and resources are devoted to constructing physical sets and preparing actual locations, coupled with the meticulous setup of lighting rigs for each scene. The camera work, involving planned and executed movements, demands multiple takes for the perfect shot, while sound recording often necessitates controlled environments to minimize external noise. Actors perform in tangible, physical settings, interacting with real props and scenery, and most special effects, particularly visual effects (VFX), are added in post-production, sometimes creating a disconnect between the on-set action and the final output.

In contrast, virtual production streamlines many of these processes. Virtual environments displayed on LED Volumes replace physical ones, allowing for real-time adjustments and eliminating the need for extensive set construction or location shooting. This integration of virtual environments not only saves time but also enhances creative flexibility. Lighting in virtual production is dynamically integrated into these environments, closely aligning with the physical lighting on set, offering an immediate and consistent view of the final scene. Camera movements are tracked in real-time within these virtual spaces, ensuring a seamless blend of real and virtual elements, and enabling more dynamic and creative shots.

For actors performing on green screens, the challenge lies in reacting to elements they can't physically see, but the immediate playback of scenes with integrated VFX  on LED Volumes assists in understanding and refining performances. Additionally, many visual effects are captured in-camera on set, significantly reducing the heavy lift in post-production VFX, leading to a more cohesive final product and a streamlined post-production process. Using motion capture technology, filmmakers can capture performances and create digital characters on set, ensuring that the interactions between CGI characters and live actors are realistic and believable.

This shift in production requires the traditional crew to work hand in hand with the volume control team (also known as the brain bar) as well as the virtual production supervisor to make sure virtual environments and physical assets are seamlessly integrated with the LED Volume and last-minute changes are implemented in real-time.


1. Virtual sets reduce physical construction, enabling real-time environment changes and reducing location shooting needs.

2. Integrated lighting in virtual environments needs to align with on-set lighting to provide a realistic look.

3. Real-time camera tracking ensures seamless blending of real and virtual elements, enhancing dynamic shot possibilities.

4. Actors perform against virtual backgrounds they can see on set, offering interactive scenes and enhanced performances.

5. Many special effects are added in real-time, streamlining the post-production process and improving scene cohesion.

The post-production workflow

In the post-production phase of filmmaking, the meticulous task of shaping the final film takes place, encompassing editing, visual effects (VFX), sound design, music composition, color correction, and final edits. The editor plays a crucial role in assembling and cutting the footage to craft a coherent and engaging narrative, while VFX are added to films requiring special effects, ranging from subtle enhancements to elaborate computer-generated assets. Sound designers and composers collaborate to augment the film's audio experience with sound effects and music, complementing the visual narrative. Color correction is performed to ensure visual consistency and aesthetic appeal across the film. Finally, the film undergoes final edits and revisions, often influenced by feedback, to fine-tune it before release.

While traditional methods often separate the stages of filming and special effects, virtual production fosters a continuous collaboration between the visual effects (VFX) team and the virtual production team. This collaboration is crucial throughout the process, ensuring that the creative vision is consistently maintained from pre-production through to post-production.

During filming, the Virtual production team captures comprehensive data, including camera movements, actor interactions with virtual environments, and real-time VFX. This data is invaluable in post-production, as it provides a detailed reference for further enhancements. The seamless integration of this data reduces the time and effort traditionally required for VFX alignment and composition. Moreover, the Virtual Art Department can render additional environments and elements that can be utilized for B-roll or background enhancements in post-production, offering greater flexibility and creative options.

It's important to note that virtual production does not eliminate the need for post-production. Instead, it transforms it into a more efficient and integrated process. The collaboration between the VFX and VP teams allows for a smoother transition of work, with each team building upon the other's contributions. This synergy not only speeds up the post-production phase but also enhances the overall quality of the final product. The ability of the Virtual Production team to provide detailed data and additional rendered content supports the post-production team in crafting a more cohesive and visually stunning film, making the entire process more efficient and harmonious for all parties involved.


1. Virtual production enables detailed pre-visualization and real-time adjustments, enhancing creative decision-making during filming.

2. Collaboration between VFX and Virtual Art Department teams throughout the process ensures a consistent creative vision and streamlined workflow.

3. The Virtual Production team provides comprehensive data from filming, crucial for efficient post-production enhancements and VFX alignment.

4. Additional environments rendered by the Virtual Art Department offer flexibility and creative options for B-roll and background enhancements in post-production.

5. Virtual production transforms but does not eliminate post-production, making it more efficient and improving the final product's quality.


In conclusion, the integration of virtual production into traditional filmmaking processes marks a significant evolution in the art and craft of movie-making. By enhancing pre-visualization, streamlining production workflows, and enriching post-production capabilities, virtual production not only fosters greater creative freedom but also introduces efficiency and flexibility that were previously unattainable. As the film industry continues to embrace these technological advancements, we can expect to see a new era of cinematic storytelling emerge, characterized by its boundless imagination and heightened visual storytelling. This fusion of technology and creativity is not just redefining the filmmaking process; it is paving the way for future innovations in the cinematic arts.

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