LOS ANGELES – Greenscreen technology has vastly expanded filmmakers’ creative capabilities, allowing for the development of striking visual effects and virtual environments at low cost and paving the way for exploration of the imagination. But how can filmmakers and actors reach their artistic peak when the fantastical environment they’re meant to interact with is simply a sea of green? Virtual production app ZEUS:Scout provides a user-friendly solution.
Created by veteran visual effects and filmmaking experts and used extensively in productions including ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” CBS’ “Intelligence,” as well as “Pan Am” and “V,” ZEUS:Scout is a one-stop app enabling users to travel through a “virtual set” while on location, providing a powerful suite of navigation, creative and technical tools. (See how it was used in the “Fairy-tale Effects” feature in the July/August 2014 issue of CGW .)
A futuristic filmmaking tool for independent filmmakers and studio professionals alike, the iPad app is the first of its kind. The app is designed to service and support production before, during and after principal photography by putting virtual location backlot assets at the fingertips of the user. By providing production a mobile platform for virtual production, users are empowered to bridge communication on set with cinematographers, directors, visual effects supervisors and art and script departments.
Using ZEUS:Scout’s features you can:
- Explore 3D sets using intuitive controls.
- Try out a wide variety of camera lenses.
- Create and share storyboard frames.
- Save and replay animated camera moves.
- Measure distances using a simple touch interface.
- Place characters and edit objects to set the scene.
The app includes seven primary modes: The view mode allows the user to move the camera around and save camera positions for shock blocking purposes; The
measurements mode allows users to bring real world measurements into a virtual world; The
characters mode can be used to insert character cards into the virtual location; The
props mode lets users add, move, rotate and scale set props that are available for in-app purchase; The
previs animation mode provides users the freedom to explore camera moves for previsualization and rehearsal purposes. Recently added modes include a
tracking mode that allows users to use the tablet as a virtual camera with the CG view matching the angle of the device and the
video mode that can integrate live video into a CG set by keying actors or objects on a green screen.
Consumer users can access pre-made assets in the app and/or purchase additional assets as in-app purchases. Professional users can prepare assets for ZEUS:Scout using Unity3D Pro and custom transcoding tools provided on the website. Additional, ZEUS production clients can access assets through a custom ad hock build with secure backend cloud storage services for secure and remote asset deployments.
Notes co-creator and Emmy-nominated VFX Supervisor Andrew Orloff, “Virtual environments can exist vividly in the creative visions of many filmmakers, but it is nearly impossible to have the entire team visualize the same concept. ZEUS:Scout advances the collaboration to a higher level, allowing everyone from the Set Designer to the Director of Photography to be on board with the concept being created virtually.”
With budgets constantly shrinking while production value expectations among audiences and entertainment executives rise, ZEUS:Scout serves as not only a virtual location scout for a library of virtual environments, but also as a robust tool to create vivid storyboards that allow for key creative decisions to be made in pre-production. The technology was pressure tested and used in production on a number of ABC shows.
The new ZEUS:Scout iPad app is now available in the iTunes store for an introductory price of $9.99.