Planet X FX

using virtual production to drown a ferrari

We couldn't actually drive a Ferrari off the edge and into the drink of course, we had to be clever by suggesting we did. So we decided to split up the shoot for this scene in 3 different ways:

  1. An actual, real vintage Ferrari shot on location, racing (at a safe distance from any water). The driver would be a stunt person.
  2. While shooting the above, also record plates of the environment that could serve as a background to play back in a;
  3. ...virtual production studio, putting the same vintage Ferrari in front of LED-screens and film the performance of the actor, pretending to drive the car off the edge, in a controlled and safe way.

The correct term that describes the type of virtual production we actually use with LED screens in this case is ‘ICVFX’, which stands for ‘In-Camera VFX’, or: the display or rendering of any background live on a giant LED screen so you can see and adjust, while you shoot, together with the other creative stakeholders, the final in-camera result!

Using a 8 x 4 meter LED screen to play back the plates that were shot on location, the interior Ferrari shots could be completed in-camera. dop Mick van Rossum is operating.

There is a 4th step, not mentioned above; the use of a digital version of the Ferrari for actions we couldn't possibly achieve with the vintage real car, like the skid near the water's edge and the violent bump of the car when it slides over the quay. The 3D CG version was composited into empty plates of the same location. More on this process can be found under the VFX tab on this page.

Breakdown of the CG Ferrari racing to the water's edge. An empty plate was shot and the Ferrari was added during post.
more use of virtual production: vr (deepspace)

To see if the 8 x 4 meter LED screens would work together with the Ferrari (a car with a very low ground clearance), the actor crammed inside and the desired lenses, these elements were first put together in a virtual (real-time) scene that could be visited in VR before the shoot would start.

Besides the scene where the Ferrari is raced off the quay's edge, it would also need to drive through Amsterdam's city centre for other scenes appearing in the series. This would have posed serious productional challenges such as permits and shooting times.

Recorded clip of a virtual 'recce' with the Ferrari driving through Amsterdam. A 40mm lens would work, was the conclusion
Another example of a low angle to see if the LED screen would provide enough height. We would avoid modern-day cards passing by from this angle.
Production designer Vincent de Pater (left) visits a future set in Planet X Technologies' in-house developed VR system 'DeepSpace'. Mick van Rossum holds the VR camera-rig that shows its output on a monitor.