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VIRTUAL SCENERY CINEMA

A new take on rear projection. ​

'Virtual Scenery Cinema' is an ongoing project of myself and  John Thorborg to shoot complicated and expensive scenes under controlled, creative and affordable circumstances. We approach rear projection on a LED screen from a cinematographer’s point of view creating the best photo-realistic backdrop possible using the tools of a cinematographer.  VFX is only used to change the background for the story that is told in front of the Led-screen.

In our project, Unreal Engine is not (yet) involved to keep things affordable and easy to incorporate in your production.

We are not a studio that is 'ready, set to go'. We are two independent creatives and we know where to rent our equipment and studio to get things going customized to the needs of a project.

Introduction


Some 10 years ago I started using rear-projection to shoot extensive car-scenes under controlled circumstances in a studio for the movie 'TBS'. Since we were pleased by the results and audience, other directors and cameramen thought the 'reality' of the scene's was very convincing, I stayed on this path for quite a while. I kept shooting car-scene's with rear-projection in a studio, making efforts to optimize the workprocess and make the quality of the images that I shoot even better.

I used this small-budget technique of shooting carscenes for several projects including the feature films

'Bloed, Zweet en Tranen', 'Hemel op Aarde' and three seasons of the series 'Hollands Hoop'.

In close collaboration with colorist John Thorborg and gaffer Uwe Kuipers I decided to take the rear-projection a 'big' step further.

In 2015 I shot the television-series 'Trollie' and we created an outside world with snowcovered mountains in a studio. We projected landscapes (moving images and photographs) on an 8x20 meter canvas with foreground art-direction and special-effects such as fog, falling snow and wind.

Since the film was a fantasy children's series, we dared to create our own world. We were able to control and shape this world by projecting its backdrop, altering the decor in the foreground and deciding on weather-conditions with only pushing a few buttons. It goes without saying that we did not have to travel to locations, we did not have to shoot in the nighttime and we did not have to wait for the sun or to look at the weather forecast for storm, sun or snow.

We also saved a lot on VFX by doing everything in camera without using greenscreen. Greenscreen would also have made it immpossible to shoot with live snow, rain and fog.

In 2018 director Lodewijk Crijns offered me his beautiful script 'Bumperkleef' to shoot.

Half of his film would takes place on the road in a car. The story concentrats on a man, his wife and their two daughters traveling in their car to visit the grandparents. In the story there is heavy traffic on the highway, there are car chases, near collisions and dangerous driving. We talked a lot about how to overcome a lot of potential problems like safety of the actors and crew and the discomfort of directing scenes in the car on moving and noisy vehicles. We also had to work around a tight budget.
Already in our first conversations I introduced to Lodewijk and the producers  the possibility of using rear-projection in the mix of technique that we could apply to get this film shot.

I got everyone convinced and we decided on rear-projection as the preferred tool instead of green screen. I started to get John Thorborg involved once again and we came up with a plan to create a more sophisticated rear-projection by using

LED-panels instead of a beamer.

We also created a 270° camera-rig to shoot the action that later became our playback on the screen in the studio as a backdrop for the scenes inside the car.

Since we did not use greenscreen we had dirty windows and reflections of the actors in the car-window.  We were able to shot a lot of takes by simply 'rewind' and push the 'play' button. Everyone was comfortable and safe in the 'fast driving scenes'

We finished 'Bumperkleef' on time, on budget and with most visual-effects done in the camera!

If you have any plans of using rear-projecting for your production, make sure you contact me through this website.

BUMPERKLEEF Trailer

BUMPERKLEEF Behind the Scenes

VIRTUAL SCENERY CINEMA EXPANDED

VIRTUAL SCENERY CINEMA EXPANDED

BUMPERKLEEF

Filmstills from the movie Bumperkleef.

Shots that were shot in the studio showcasing our Virtual Scenery Technic.

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BUMPERKLEEF

On set:

3x8m  4K led panel background

Control over background through Scratch. Actors-replay with sync background (Scratch).

Lighting sync with background image (Scratch).

Additional options: Sync vehicle movements with background (Scratch)

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In early 2020 I was supposed to shoot a series on the IRA and their attacks around 1990 on the European mainland. Due to the pandamic the project got rescheduled and we tried to work our way around travel ristrictions. It was decided that we would not travel to foreign countries and that we put all our effort in filming on build sets and in using Virtual Scenery.

In the summer I was allowed to travel to Great Brittain to shoot background-plates and footage to be used in the series.

We started shooting in august and saved up all kinds of scenes in Belfast, Germany and Belgium untill the end of the shooting schedule. We started using the LED-wall as a background for scenes were cars and driving were not involved. We had a scene on a ferry leaving Belfast and scenes in the city of Belfast itself.

We filmed in stationary cars, in several phone booths around the Netherlands; we had scenes in a train and on the Kurfurtstendamm in Berlin all in front of our LED-screen.

We also did some pick-up shots and a scene that was re-written and never made the schedule beforehand.

THE SPECTACULAR

Filmstills from the series The Spectaculair.

Shots that were shot in the studio showcasing our Virtual Scenery Technic.

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VIRTUAL SCENERY CINEMA EXPANDED

Trollie

On set:

8x20m projection-screen with HD Beamer 20.000 Ansilumen

Control over background through Blackmagic Software and Photoshop.

Projecting still-photographs or moving images. Foreground action (falling snow, flair, rain) is allowed other than with greenscreen.

Visual-effects in background created prior to shooting or live on set.

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