A short film created as part of a project to showcase the capabilities of Sony’s technology is already changing the way the company creates content.
The noir-inspired “Killian’s Game” was the first project to emerge from Sony’s Content Technology Strategy Committee, a group of about 100 people “and growing,” according to Daniel De La Rosa, VP of Post Production at Sony Picture Entertainment.
Behind the scenes, up-and-coming Hollywood creators worked on the nine-minute projects and packages in new filmmaking techniques developed by combining the creators’ ideas with the Sony Group’s versatile technologies.
“There have always been requests from R&D teams to visit sets because it helps them shape their development process,” De La Rosa explained. “The answer is usually no.” However, the combination of virtual production, streaming from the set and technology allowed them to do this.
It also showed how much content creation now revolves around the critical elements available. “If someone was asking, ‘We’re going to create the Spider-Man element, so what do we need to be able to use in an interactive experience or video game?’ this process taught us what to look for to make everything more compatible downstream.”
Co-writers and co-directors Collin Davis and Matt Litwiller had a script, but the available technology informed several creative changes.
“It became an exercise in how some of the tools could be better used to enhance what we had,” Davis explained, saying the Airpeak S1 drone allowed them to “mimic” the opening sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and to take “mysterious shots to build tension”.
“We’ve always tried to give feedback and make suggestions, but we don’t let creatives down or change our minds because of technology,” pledged Yoshikazu Takashima, Sony’s Vice President of Advanced Technology. “If DP wanted to use a different brand of camera, we would allow them to do so and Sony could learn about compatibility and why they chose the other.”
De La Rosa added, “We also worked tirelessly with DP Doug Potts to find the same set of lenses in Japan that he had used in the States. They used our VENICE 2 cameras in both locations with Kowa anamorphic lenses, so we hired them to make it look as seamless as possible.”
“Killian’s Game” was shot partially on location in and around Los Angeles, but also in Tokyo using B-series Crystal LED screens on Sony PCL Inc.’s Virtual Production Stage. using 360 renders of US locations.
“The last scene where two guys set the house on fire was shot in Tokyo on a C-LED wall, and we cut inserts that we shot in Los Angeles,” recalls co-director Litwiller. “It took a lot of planning, but we were amazed at how well it came together.” The fire was created by award-winning visual effects studio, FuseFX.
“This is not something we would have written for a short film with a relatively modest budget, because you just can’t light things on fire,” added David. “It is very expensive.”
To recreate the location that was ultimately destroyed on screen, David, Litwiller and their DP spent a day and a half filming what they needed and another four hours of LIDAR scanning the same space. “They set up this round device, it scans the room, then you take photos with texture, and then they can use all of that to create a full 3D environment that can then be moved around as you want or projected onto a screen.” David enthusiastically described the results as “amazing”.
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