Narwhal's VAD team was at the forefront of redefining how filmmaking could be approached.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: A Case Study in Global Virtual Production
By Narwhal Studios
In the world of film production, challenges are a constant. However, some projects go beyond the ordinary. Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is one such project that tested our virtual art department process on a full-scale film production, while also deploying during a pandemic, and further developing our remote workflow and tools.
This case study dives into our journey on the project, focusing on its challenges, solutions, and lessons learned.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania began its production during the peak of the pandemic, introducing a unique set of challenges:
1. A Swift Ramp-Up: Our team had to adapt quickly to new working methods, including deploying the virtual production infrastructure for the film, setting up a first-of-its-kind global virtual scouting process, and creating high-fidelity sets in collaboration with the filmmakers.
2. Narwhal’s Global Virtual Art Department: With key creatives scattered across the globe, from Hawaii to London to various US locations, deploying virtual production setups locally at their locations and coordinating their collaboration was a substantial challenge.
VP Infrastructure Setup, Virtual Art Department and Set Design
This project took place in London, Narwhal Studios deployed the virtual production infrastructure for the film, hosting visualization, VAD and ICVFX perforce streams, and all necessary security measures for us to operate effectively. Our team successfully developed 8 Hero Sets, with over 30 Set Variants and more than 30 lighting scenarios. Felix Jorge, Virtual Production Supervisor, along with the contributions of Art Directors Safari Sosebee and Carlos Fueyo, played critical roles in helping guide the key creatives through the entire process.
The Virtual Art Department artists were instrumental in maintaining a balance between the physical and virtual sets. They compiled turnover packages encompassing real-time sets, distinctions between physical and virtual assets, references, textures, and insights gathered from creative reviews. This extensive resource ensured that subsequent teams could seamlessly continue from where the key creatives left off.
In parallel, our virtual pre-light sessions with Bill Pope not only offered critical support to the production designer Will Htay, but also facilitated the provision of a virtual set team, while our tech teams efficiently assembled the necessary infrastructure to make this project a success.
Building a virtual location scout process that’s possible remotely
Narwhal Studios worked with director, Peyton Reed, and his key creatives to convene in for virtual location scouts, similar to a traditional physical production location scout. They could review the script, position cameras, and refine scene details directly into an Unreal Engine virtual set.
These remote location scout reviews were made possible by directly working with the VAD Art Director and with the help of a virtual production machine that was sent to every key creatives' location. The Virtual Scout Package included a PC, a mouse, a VR headset, and, at times, an iPad virtual camera. In these virtual filmmaking review sessions, Peyton Reed came together with Director of Photography Bill Pope, Production Designer Will Htay, VFX Supervisor Jesse James, producers, and other key team members. They crafted unique virtual production processes tailored to their preferences with custom controls, lenses, and workflows.
A Toolbox of Lessons
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania wasn't just a film but a masterclass in managing a global virtual art department. The journey was laden with challenges, but the knowledge gained was invaluable. The project showcased the potential of technology to unite global teams and foster creativity despite physical separation.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania wasn't just a film but a masterclass in managing a global virtual art department.
200+ Virtual Stage Walks with Production Designer
25+ Pre-light & Camera Blocking Sessions with DP For Techviz
45+ Virtual Location Scouts with Key Decision Makers
15 Virtual Art Department Artist
5 Months of Set Design
8 Hero Sets with Multiple Variants
34+ Set Variants
30+ Set Dressing Assets scanned
35+ Lighting Scenarios
200+ Cameras Placed
IN OUR VIRTUAL REVIEWS
Writer: Jeff Loveness
Cinematography: Bill Pope
Director: Peyton Reed
Production Designer: Will Htay