Virtual Production Event April 2021

The Art of Virtual Production

April 17, 2021 A Special Projects Committee virtual event.

On April 17, DGA members got a two-part inside look at the latest tools in Virtual Production for features and television during the Special Projects Committee’s online event, The Art of Virtual Production. In part one, Director/Executive Dave Filoni and Director Carl Weathers, VFX Supervisor Richard Bluff, Virtual Production Visualization Supervisor Landis Fields and Production Designer Andrew Jones discussed their work on the hit series The Mandalorian; and the second part featured a discussion with the VFX powerhouse Weta Digital with Director Roseanne Liang, Executive Visual Effects Producer David Conley and VFX Supervisors Erik Winquist and Stephen Unterfranz.

Following welcomes from DGA Special Projects Committee Chair Jeremy Kagan and Special Projects Digital Day and New Technology Subcommittee Co-Chair Michael Goi, Subcommittee Co-Chair Randal Kleiser introduced the panelists for the first panel of the day with the creative team from season two of The Mandalorian. During the discussion, Filoni, Weathers, Bluff, Fields and Jones revealed how new advancements in LED volume tech and the Virtual Production workflow were able bring Directors’ visions to life on the fantastical series set in the Star Wars universe and took questions in a Q&A moderated by Kleiser.

Special Projects Digital Day and New Technology Subcommittee Co-Chair Susan Zwerman introduced the panelists for the second panel of the day with the colleagues from Weta Digital. In a video call from New Zealand, Liang, Conley, Winquist and Unterfranz shared some of the benefits and limitations to current Virtual Production workflows and gave in-depth comparison between recent LED/real-time productions and more traditional approaches before taking questions in a Q&A moderated by Zwerman.

Video from this event coming soon to the gallery below.




Virtual Production Event April 2021Director/Executive Producer Dave Filoni
Filoni realized a lifelong dream in 2005 when he was selected by George Lucas to help build Lucasfilm’s animation studio from the ground up and create the company’s first series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a series won four Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Special Class Animated Program two years in a row. Filoni’s follow-up series, the Emmy Award-nominated Star Wars, similarly received universal praise for building upon the Star Wars saga and expanding on the lore and mythology first introduced in 1977. His third animated series, Star Wars Resistance, received Emmy Award nominations two years in a row. Filoni is Executive Producer, Episodic Director and Writer on the Emmy Award-winning series The Mandalorian, and is currently in production on the new series The Book of Boba Fett. He is also the Creator and Executive Producer of the new animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch, set to debut on Disney+ in May. Filoni joined the DGA in 2018.

Virtual Production Event April 2021Director Carl Weathers
Most recently, Weathers directed The Mandalorian episode "Chapter 12: The Siege." He is also well known for his reoccurring role as Greef Karga within the acclaimed Disney+ series. His other directorial credits include episodes of Chicago MedHawaii Five-0For the PeopleSheena18 Wheels of JusticeStrong MedicinePensacola: Wings of GoldSilk Stalkings and Renegade. A DGA member since 1995, Weathers has also served as an Alternate to the National Board, a member of the Western Directors Council, and currently serves as the co-chair of the DGA PAC Leadership Council.
Virtual Production Event April 2021Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Bluff
Bluff is one of Industrial Light & Magic’s award-winning Visual Effects Supervisors, who recently served as the Production-side overall VFX Supervisor on The Mandalorian where he oversaw every aspect of the visual effects effort on behalf of production, including responsibility for more than 3000 shots across each season as well as ongoing technical and creative development of the new game engine driven LED stage technology and workflow (StageCraft) for the show. Bluff received the Visual Effects Society Award for ‘Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode’ for his work on Season One and a nomination, in the same category, for Season Two. His resume also includes work on such films as Above and BeyondLucyUnbrokenDoctor Strange and the Marvel TV series Agent Carter
Virtual Production Event April 2021Virtual Production Visualization Supervisor Landis Fields
Fields is an Emmy Award-winning real-time artist working on film, television, and theme park productions. Most recently, he served as Virtual Production Visualization Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic on season two of The Mandalorian, earning a VES Award nomination for Outstanding Virtual Cinematography. For his contributions to season one of The Mandalorian, he was honored with a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects, won a VES Award for Outstanding Model for “The Razorcrest” and received a VES Award nomination for Outstanding Virtual Cinematography. Additional credits include Doctor StrangeRogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Transformers: The Last Knight, among many others. 

Virtual Production Event April 2021Production Designer Andrew L. Jones
Jones has built his career working with the industry's top filmmakers, including working as a Sculptor on Ron Howard's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, with Robert Zemeckis on The Polar Express, Steven Spielberg on The Adventures of Tintin, James Cameron on Avatar, and Jon Favreau on Walt Disney's The Jungle Book, a that led to their reunion on Disney+'s The Mandalorian. Jones was honored in 2020 with an Emmy Award for Outstanding Production Design for his work on Chapter 1 of The Mandalorian

Virtual Production Event April 2021Director Roseanne Liang
Liang has made award-winning work across feature film, TV comedy and short film including My Wedding and Other Secrets, Berlin-winning Take 3 and Sundance-SXSW breakout action short Do No Harm. Her latest action-thriller feature film, Shadow in the Cloud, premiered September 2020 at Toronto International Film Festival, where it garnered rave reviews and won the People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award. Liang is currently showrunning an original post-apocalyptic comedy series called Creamerie
Virtual Production Event April 2021Executive Visual Effects Producer David Conley
As Executive Visual Effects Producer of Weta Digital, Conley oversees Weta’s global VFX film production. He has guided Weta through a company transition that saw the expansion and growth of its film operations and portfolio of work, bringing in many high-profile films including David Lowery's Pete's Dragon, Steven Spielberg's The BFG and Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book. Prior to joining the Weta, Conley worked as a VFX Producer on a number of innovative and influential film projects including CloverfieldPirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Life of Pi. He also worked as a member of the executive film production teams at Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox on films such as War of the WorldsBeowulf and A Series of Unfortunate Events
Virtual Production Event April 2021Visual Effects Supervisor Stephen Unterfranz
Unterfranz joined Weta Digital in 2000 to work in models and creatures on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His resume includes working as a character CG Supervisor on a number of projects, including The Twilight Saga: New Moon, a lighting TD on Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin and as a CG supervisor on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He also led the new Environments Department during The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugThe Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. In his current role as a Visual Effects Supervisor, he has recently contributed to Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall and was a Visual Effects Supervisor on Rampage and Shadow in the Cloud
Virtual Production Event April 2021Visual Effects Supervisor Erik Winquist
Winquist’ resume includes work as a Compositor on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, supervisory roles on I, Robot and Peter Jackson’s King Kong, and credits as a Visual Effects Supervisor on AvatarRise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He has been very involved with the immersion of Weta Digital's cutting-edge performance capture technology into the production workflow to integrate digital performances into physical sets. He recently completed work on War for the Planet of the Apes and Rampage and is currently working on Weta Digital’s LED-virtual production tools. 

About The Special Projects Committee

Special Projects is the educational and cultural arm of the Directors Guild of America, providing its members opportunities for creative exchange to advance their craft and celebrate the achievements of directors and their teams.

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