Illustration of Unity virtual production on an LED wall.
January 28, 2021

Unity + Virtual Production Filmmaking

Digital Asset Management
Version Control

Unity + virtual production for real-time filmmaking is quickly gaining speed in this ever-evolving industry.

Although game engines have been used for years, their powerful rendering capabilities have disrupted nearly every stage in traditional filmmaking. In the past, there were barriers for computer graphics (CG). Technical limitations. Dispersed hardware. Often, production teams ended up recreating creative pipelines for each project.

Artists and designers would develop assets, ship them off, and never know how they were incorporated until the final film hit theaters. Rather than experimenting to find the right solution, studios would piece together workflows and assets, often across siloed teams and third-party companies. Reusing assets for other projects was near impossible.

But when the world went remote, it gave studios an opportunity to shift. The enhanced photorealism in game engines has allowed studios to cut costs. Now every hour can be golden hour!

If you’re looking to make your next virtual production film, learn what you need to get started with Unity.

Can You Make Movies with Unity?

Rendering in real-time with Unity allows teams to start production level graphics at the beginning of a project. Artists and designers can experiment with characters, lighting, angles, and more.

Unity is used by more than four million game developers. Why? It provides a suite of tools and an extensive asset store. Users can simply purchase textures and pre-coded graphics and start (minimal coding experience required). For many, this is all that’s needed to get up and running.

Combining Unity + virtual production has already produced films, for example Adam. This film won a Webby Award for Video Animation. But this was just the beginning. Unity works to seamlessly combine virtual and augmented realities with computer graphics and footage captured on sets.

Unity & Virtual Production Workflow

Unity has a very strong share in the mobile game market, which lends itself to mixed reality gaming. With recent transition from game dev to virtual production, Unity is now being explored for films.

Its flexible architecture promotes experimentation. Unlike traditional film and animation workflows, game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine enhance collaboration at every stage, shortening feedback loops.

Once a concept of a scene is started, it can be built and iterated. As the vision continues to evolve, teams can track its progress and work with writers, directors, editors, cinematographers, and more to decide on final shots. Everyone on the team is aligned on the vision from the beginning. Better yet, they can actually see it in real time.

How Unity + Virtual Production Works

Creating this imagery with Unity requires a suite of other software tools to get started. Because creating high-quality images and keeping up with changes can be difficult, especially with everyone being remote. You want to avoid bottlenecks and make decisions quickly.

Let’s say your studio is starting to work on a background for a scene. This asset will be used in the final film (and who knows, maybe the sequel).  What do you need to make it work with Unity?

Project Management

Game dev companies have used Agile as a way to manage an ever-growing list of requirements with limited resources. For many games, this involves a continuous deployment model that includes upgrades, enhancements, etc.

Filmmaking has traditionally used a Waterfall methodology but is now taking the game dev Agile roadmap and using it for their projects. There are numerous benefits using project management tools to track Unity virtual production scenes and assets. Teams can more easily collaborate. It also helps to track progress and communicate across teams.

Learn How 5 Leading Studios Master Game Dev >>

Asset Tracking and Data Management

One of the most important technologies to build a new reality is a high-performing system that can manage and store the large files and massive number of iterations needed for a final film. This technology needs to also connect people in real-time.

For example, a virtual art department has been tasked to create a scene during preproduction. But now that everyone is on set, they need to adjust the lighting to match the current environment. With Unity, you can go in, make a change, and render. But now the director wants to go back to the last version!

Using the right version control allows you to make changes and render fast. Because with large Unity assets, you need a powerful system to match demands (unlike Plastic SCM). This system can act as the foundation for Unity virtual production. It can track and version everything and pull it all together for the final cut.

You can also deploy your system in the cloud, giving you high availability across regions. To make sure that your IP is always protected and backed up, you want to make sure that you secure your assets.

What Software Do You Need for Virtual Production?

Discover how to get started with the right toolset to manage it all.

LEARN MORE

Build Your Unity + Virtual Production Pipeline

As you embark on this new frontier of filmmaking, you need to build a pipeline that optimizes Unity virtual production.

To make your next film, you need to manage:

  • Remote siloed contributors.
  • Lots of large files.
  • Range of digital assets.
  • Numerous iterations.
  • Security for valuable IP.

The right supporting tools will allow you to build a pipeline for your entire team. The right version control is essential to get the most out of Unity & virtual production. Whereas other systems, like Plastic SCM, fall down as projects and teams grow. You need something that can help teams move faster and enhance collaboration.

Virtual Production Workflow Diagram

Helix Core — version control from Perforce — stores all of your virtual production + Unity assets and can manage iterations over time. 19 of the top 20 game dev studios trust Helix Core to streamline their builds and manage all their assets, not just code. Because it helps teams deliver large files to remote team members around the globe.

Why Choose Helix Core for Unity & Virtual Production?

Helix Core delivers lightning-fast performance for innovative studios. Unlike other version control systems, Helix Core manages all the large digital assets — binary files, audio files, video files, code, and more — that are involved in virtual production.

 

Using Helix Core with Unity + virtual production gives your team a single source of truth for your entire project. This makes it easier to find and reuse assets, whether it is for another scene in a movie, or another project.

Plus, it offers the security you need to make sure your valuable IP is always protected. Working on a project with a bunch of other studios? No problem. With Helix Core you can protect assets down to the individual file.

Collaborating on set? Helix Core makes it easy to set up a server right where you are located. Then you can sync assets back to the master server and distribute to other teams.

Helix Core integrates with more than just Unity. Try it with all of the most popular game engines:

Helix Core can be deployed in the cloud and offers integrations with the tools digital creators are already using — 3ds Max, Maya, and more.

See for yourself why so many virtual production studios choose Helix Core for Unity virtual production. Get started for free (up to 5 users and 20 workspaces).

FREE VIRTUAL PRODUCTION TOOLS