Five key considerations when using virtual sets for live esports

Phil Englert, Ross Video’s Esports Business Development Manager, writes for Esports Insider to highlight some major considerations that can bolster virtual sets for live esports events. 

Image credit: Ross Video

Virtual sets and 3D production elements are becoming increasingly popular and prevalent in the esports world. 

With this in mind, I recently sat down with the Ross Video’s Voyager and Rocket Surgery Virtual Production teams to uncover the latest tips and tricks on how to successfully bring virtual sets into live production environments. From setting realistic goals to experimenting with new creative elements, here are five things to consider when including virtual production in live esports events. 

Start simple

Whether it’s using locked-off cameras, fully tracked cameras, or are shooting into a green screen, selecting the right tools and methods within the project’s scope is crucial. 

With virtual sets, the sky is the limit and this can be overwhelming for show producers, so starting simple ensures that the show stays manageable within a live environment. For example, a three-camera setup that can be used for each focus area of the set can help traditional directors understand how to effectively use virtual production tools. 

A solid plan and grasp of the technology will keep the show efficient while unlocking the potential of the set.

Focus on the workflow

The look of the set is very important. However, in a live environment, the operator’s control of the set and cameras is paramount. Producers and directors are used to flexible workflows, so building this flexibility into virtual control systems is crucial to harnessing the true potential of each moment in the live environment.

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Build the set for live rendering 

Virtual sets and 3D environments have been used for decades in the world of film and animation. In these post-production realms, some scenes may take days to render. For example, many 3D designers who are used to working on cinema projects often don’t think efficiently about polygon counts because the extra render time doesn’t matter as much in post-production. 

In the live environment, that rendering needs to happen in real-time. As such, taking the time to optimise the 3D design and make sure that the geometry and textures of the project are efficient is vital to real-time render engine performance.

Don’t be afraid to be creative

With virtual sets, you can achieve things with a production that can’t be done on a physical set. Adding the ‘wow’ factor by flying objects around a physical space is one of the most compelling and impactful aspects of leveraging virtual sets.

When building the set, unlock the full creative potential of virtual production by building the set with multiple shootable locations in one space. Most importantly, plan the set design around flying camera transitions and powerful focal points. 

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Image credit: Ross Video

Plan ahead and hold virtual blocking sessions

Initial meetings and planning sessions are highly important, especially when considering the number of crew members involved in a typical virtual production. 

It is important to plan specific areas of the set that are meant for talent and other live activations in advance. Once the set is 80 percent complete, hold blocking sessions on the set to get everyone using the same terminology and ensure they are on the same page. During these sessions, the director and producer can explore the set and choose the areas and types of moves to build into the project. 

This time gives the director full confidence on a virtual set and allows them to better understand what they can do within the space. Adding cameras or structural changes at the last minute can put the whole project at risk and potentially create a nightmare scenario for operators.

As virtual sets continue to become more common in the esports world, these practices can help ensure a successful production environment. With virtual set solutions from Ross Video, esports productions will create visually stunning live events in no time.

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