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How To Turn An iPad/iPhone Into A Virtual Production Camera

How To Turn An iPad/iPhone Into A Virtual Production Camera

Thanks to your iPhone or iPad, you can begin gaining experience with virtual production and evolve with the VFX industry.

In our interview with accomplished director of virtual production, Asa Bailey, we discussed the evolving frontier of innovative virtual production technology, and how it is becoming available to filmmakers and VFX artists everywhere.

An ongoing democratization is occurring in this space, thanks most of all to an incredibly accessible virtual production workflow powered by Epic Games' Unreal Engine.

Where to Learn Virtual Production

Even if you're not an Unreal Engine programmer, Epic Games provides enough free training to help you learn the basics necessary to use the free engine as a filmmaking tool.

Also, be sure to check out Epic Games' free e-book, The Virtual Production Field Guide.

One of the greatest resources on virtual production is the Cinematography Database, Matt Workman's insightful YouTube channel that will show you everything you need to dive into the world of indie virtual production.

How to Use an iPad or iPhone as a Virtual Production Camera

One of the best ways to begin experimenting with virtual production is to get yourself familiar with controlling a virtual camera in physical space. 

On the hardware side, you don't need a decked-out camera with an array of trackers (although that is a great place to work towards). If you want to start learning the ropes of virtual production filmmaking, an iPad or iPhone can give you immersive virtual camera controls, as well as a perfect display for capturing your shots.

Check out how easy it is to get started in the video below!
The steps are pretty straightforward:

1. Create (or buy) an environment and open it in the Unreal Engine.
2. Navigate to Settings>Plugins>Built-in Plugins, then type "virtual" in the search bar and ensure the following plugins are enabled:

•Media IO Framework
•Take Recorder
•Virtual Production Utilities
•VirtualCamera

3. Open your scene in the Take Recorder window in Unreal Engine.
4. Download the “Unreal Engine Remote 2” app on your iOS device.
5. Launch the app on your iPhone or iPad and get to work!

Not only are you able to zoom in and out, but you can pan and tilt in three hundred and sixty degrees, and even walk around your scene with the on-screen joystick controls in the app.

You can think of the joystick in the app as the left thumbstick of a gaming controller, yielding positional control in 3D space, while the right stick that typically controls your camera is replaced by your physical movements with your device.

This gives you so many possibilities, even from an incredibly basic level.  You can place 3D models of actors in your scene and shoot storyboards, practice camera movements, and more. You can even build or purchase a physical iPad or iPhone camera rig for more intuitive control of your virtual camera.

Regardless of your skill level, anyone can jump right into virtual production with a little time and dedication. As this filmmaking method is already growing exponentially, there's never been a better time to learn this exciting technique and add a very useful skill to your VFX arsenal!

Want to check out the interview we had with Asa Bailey, a major pioneer in the realm of virtual production? To learn how virtual production is coming to the forefront of the VFX industry, then click below.

Read exclusive virtual production interview with Asa.

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