Our client, a leading innovator of specialist acoustic design, was appointed to provide acoustic consultancy for the filming of a new superhero film. The filming process made extensive use of ‘virtual production’ – a rapidly growing area of content production combining CGI, game-engines, and virtual reality technologies in which large LED walls are used as the backdrop to filming – showing a pre-filmed or CGI background. The technology is relatively new, with notable early adapters including the Star Wars’ spin off The Mandalorian.
The team was required to find a solution for an acoustic problem which is inherent in this technology. The curved, acoustically reflective LED wall focuses sound to a single point within the space which is most commonly the main action area. This sound focussing leads to extreme phasing issues, rendering recorded action unusable and requiring Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) for all dialogue. This adds significant time and money to the production process.
To overcome this, our client developed a bespoke solution using a unique combination of basic geometric acoustics, materials technology and production artistry. The team adapted the set designer’s concept to use a specialist material as part of the set construction which was made to look like the set designer’s intent and be blended with the wider set visuals. The result allowed for the positioning of critical acoustic treatment right by the action while still being completely invisible to the camera. Our client also designed and deployed a series of bespoke acoustic panels on a shot-by-shot basis in a position out of camera view which helped to disrupt the focusing effect.
The project represents the development of a one-of-a-kind solution to improve the creation of an industry-leading technology. The innovation will help to make real-time computer graphic technologies such as virtual production a limitless potential to enhance creative concepts, workflows and production artistry within the film industry.