Knights Of The ZodiacVirtual Production
Based on the international anime sensation Knights of the Zodiac, and starring a
plethora of celebrated global talent including Japanese actor Mackenyu, Dutch
sensation Famke Janssen (Golden Eye, X-Men, Taken) and English favourite Sean
Bean, the film’s plot revolves around Seiya (Mackenyu), a strong-willed teen in
search of his sister, who was kidnapped by strangers when they were children.
To make ends meet, he fights for cash, one day accidentally tapping into his own
mystical powers. With the knowledge of his new-found skills comes the
realisation that he is bound to protect the Goddess of War – who has been
reincarnated as a young orphan girl, and reminds him of his long-lost sibling.
Evoke was commissioned to produce some thrilling vehicle scenes that are both integral to the story arc and in keeping with the fast-paced visual aesthetic. The scene depicts the main characters in a car chase, evading a spaceship shooting missiles overhead.
To achieve this, we put an expert virtual production team together to plan the technical build, deliver on-site technical operations and track the accumulating live data to be saved in real-time. We deployed a technician to handle developing changes – as can arise when using the real-time 3D creation tool Unreal Engine – and to ensure the colour workflow was set up correctly for the Director’s needs.
The Evoke Studios team went on location to Budapest, Hungary, to showcase the intricacies of on-set virtual production and demonstrate the capabilities of the volume for the VFX Supervisor and Film Director in Mai 2021.
Once the production team were convinced that high-end virtual production techniques could harness the desired results, we got to work.
After several months of planning, budgeting and perfecting processes, we undertook four weeks of volume set-up, including two weeks of technical rehearsals and a two-day VP shoot.
To create the high-octane realism of a high-speed multi-vehicle chase, the car was mounted onto a movable platform with an actor inside, steering the wheel to create real reflections in the windows. After shooting the front of the car, the crew had just one night to shoot the scene where the car was damaged by a falling rock.
Evoke Studios Co-founder and Head of Content, Urs Nyffenegger, explains: “Shooting the reverse facing shots in the volume was a heavy task as the hydraulic platform had to be turned, and the car had to be damaged. On a time-critical film set such as this, we had to blend in seamlessly with the production crew, which we of course did. Adaptability is in our DNA!”
Filipe Martins performed a 3D scan of the volume so that we had an accurate representation in the disguise media server system, a vital step in order to get the perfect outcome. We also unified the 3D tracking data for the camera, the platform and the two spotlights for use in post-VFX.
Knights of The Zodiac is shot at 48 frames per second with a 10-bit colour system. This is a fairly unusual configuration and uses 64 x more colour than the standard 8-bit. It presented a challenge to get it to work in the whole system.
Unreal Engine was also initially unable to produce motion blur in this set-up. We had several discussions with both Epic Games and the disguise support team in order to solve the issues, but with their knowledge and support, we were able to deliver incredible results.
This project marked Evoke’s first virtual production shoot for a big-budget Hollywood movie.
Thanks to the intrinsic knowledge our teams have gained over the course of multiple complex AR and XR campaigns, by the time filming for Knights of the Zodiac took place in the summer of ‘21, we were able to keep the complicated technical setup running smoothly and efficiently for this Sony Pictures Entertainment production.
The final outcome produced a realistic and entertaining car scene for one of the most anticipated cinematic action releases of 2023.
Full System Control Programming
Disguise Media Server Programming
Playback System Operation
Stype Tracking System
The Vision Team
Hardware partners: by Lex
Unreal Scenes: Dimension
- 4 weeks of volume set-up
- 2 weeks of technical rehearsals
- 2 days of shoot
- 20 seconds of film
- 48 frames per second