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Virtual Production Is Transforming the Future of Retail Marketing and So Much More

viral production

What is virtual production?

Virtual Production (VP) combines traditional filming techniques with virtual environments and computer graphics to create immersive video experiences. Real-life elements, sometimes referred to as “practical elements,” include props, talent, and pieces of the set. These exist in the foreground of the shot. Behind them includes a massive LED screen called the volume that displays the virtual environment. So, through camera-tracking technology, these link together to create a single, cohesive image on camera.

Why should marketers consider virtual production?

Creative teams no longer find themselves confined by the limitations of physical environments. This allows them to have more creative freedom and opportunities. Productions are more efficient because real-time VFX rendering in-camera means less to do in post. VP is also more convenient. Filming in a studio reduces travel burden and eases schedule demands, reducing the need for location changes or overnight filming.

Digging into tools and technology of VP

Using in-camera visual effects (ICVFX), precision camera tracking, and Epic Games Unreal Engine software, you are now able to combine immersive, photorealistic environments with real-world elements. So, the lines between virtual reality and reality converge, creating a seamless visual experience.

VP relies on a virtual-art department to create renderings that showcase the realistic environment. If a background doesn’t exist, it can be built from scratch. The technology makes it possible to create and shoot tabletops, exteriors, interiors, and almost anything in the environment.

Because VP gives you total control over the environment, from the practical elements (or props) to the on-screen environments you’ve created in Unreal Engine, you are now able to avoid a lot of surprises and time-consuming, tactical creative conversations that have to be talked through on location.

Fueling production efficiency with VP

Efficiency becomes more than a promise with VP. It’s the innovative result of an agile new workflow that creates opportunities to use time and money more effectively.

Beyond the traditional principal photography on the LED wall, a successful VP shoot requires creative and technical synchronization between the technology and the people using it. On-set production teams include the VFX department, a virtual-art department, and a highly detailed production plan. All are built around maximizing the storytelling potential. To successfully execute that plan, the LED volume operators, virtual gaffers, and DPs, as well as the game engine operators in the brain bar, all play a critical role in a successful shoot.

Many aspects of the post-production process merg into the pre-production phase. They push key stakeholders to align on critical creative and logistic decisions before turning the cameras on. All of the elements have already been decided. From the store signage to the products on the shelves and other environmental details, everything is created beforehand.

Now, instead of scrambling to make adjustments while the stress builds and the budget starts to burn, you can spend that time focused on getting the best performance possible from your talent. In this respect, virtual production can eliminate a lot of trial and error. Additionally, it helps to maximize the efficiency of your production.

retail marketing production
A virtual production photoshoot in a pharmacy setting

More for retail marketing

VP makes it easy to create environments and bring potential spaces to life. Even if they don’t exist in the physical world. Retailers can now create new footprints for their products and even film in prototype stores.

Beyond aesthetics, it allows for an immersive and strategic approach to the customer experience. This gives retailers more flexibility to better inform construction choices, product placement, and fixture needs when making merchandising and floor plan decisions.

One of the more focused VP capabilities that retailers can benefit from is the ability to use photogrammetry for products.

By scanning a specific product and creating a 3D replica of it in a VP library, it’s possible to enhance the lighting and product texture to create photorealistic visualizations for virtual product placement.

Retailers can streamline their marketing efforts by creating tailored virtual experiences for their target audiences, at a reduced cost, with less reliance on physical inventory and traditional photography. Enhancing product representation overall on all platforms can tell a more cohesive brand story. Additionally, when paired with better product representation, it should translate to increased sales conversions.

Chasing the story instead of the sun

With VP, you now have total control of the environment, including lighting, weather, crowds, and whatever else might be needed to get the perfect shot. You’re able to reduce the number of variables associated with travel, obtaining permits and location scouting with a more streamlined process in a more controlled environment.

While troubleshooting production pivots can build character and bolster resourcefulness, they can also add unnecessary stress to shoots — disrupting focus, flow, and creative execution. They can become costly, creating the need for extra shoot days, location changes, or overtime required to get the job done.

Golden hour no longer runs the shoot schedule and location scouting becomes a task of the imagination.

watching show production
How virtual production comes together in-camera

Are you ready for VP?

You can now create authentic, in-store, or in-outer space retail environments without leaving the studio. We can’t make time stand still, but we can shoot you in Madagascar in the morning and Tokyo in the afternoon without the travel costs.

Built on our foundation of strategy + creative, our (add)galaxies Virtual Production Studio opens the door to endless creative possibilities and the chance to explore things that have never been done before. Wherever your brand needs to be, (add)ventures can take you there.

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