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How to Use Mixed Reality On-Set for Live VFX Pre-Visualization

How to Use Mixed Reality On-Set for Live VFX Pre-Visualization

Today we will be showing you how to add 3D VFX Pre-Vis during production by using Windows 10's Mixed Reality On-Set.

Whether you’re a DP, 3D modeler, director, or compositor - having an on-set reference of 3D VFX during production can be incredibly handy as you’re framing your shot, setting up lighting, placing your actors, etc. While having practical props on-set for your actors to interact with (like a tennis ball on a pole) can be great, it’s going to be much more of an advantage to digitally augment those props - and save yourself time in post trying to roto them out.

Viewing 3D Props On-Set with Windows 10

One of the coolest and most underrated features of Windows 10’s Creators Update that dropped last year is the ability to bring in 3D models to an augmented reality viewer (called the Mixed Reality Viewer app), that will let you place models in 3D space with your actors on-the-fly. 
When people hear “mixed reality,” they tend to think of virtual reality. While you can certainly use a Windows Mixed Reality-compatible headset to view your 3D model on-set with its onboard cameras (which is undeniably cool), you can also simply use the screen on the Surface Pro to view your imported 3D model in the scene using the Surface Pro’s camera.

If you’ve got a Windows 10 laptop - ideally a Surface Pro - you can enhance your VFX production with on-set mixed reality pre-vis - available free within Windows 10. This is a great tool you can add to your production arsenal, and it can really get your cast and crew more focused on a unified vision when you’re shooting, as opposed to simply going off a storyboard. 

Build Your Own 3D Models...in Microsoft Paint 3D!

What’s really cool about using a Surface Pro for this technique, is Microsoft Paint’s 3D functionality makes it possible for anyone to quickly create a basic 3D model intuitively with the stylus.  See it in action below:
For advanced 3D artists, you can also use Microsoft’s 3D Builder for more textured and complex 3D modeling. The other great thing is that you have access to the Windows Remix 3D library of designer and community-made 3D models, as well.

Import Your Own 3D Models 

The Mixed Reality Viewer app also allows you to bring your custom 3D models from industry-grade 3D software into your scene, with support for FBX, STL, OBJ, GLB, GLTF, PLY, and 3MF file types.

Practical Applications for Windows Mixed Reality VFX Pre-Vis

Take collaboration to a whole new level as your crew reviews and repositions models on-set in real-time. You can experiment with connecting the Surface Pro’s display to a large external monitor for everyone to have a reference point. The display could be pointed towards the actors so they can get an idea of where to look, and how to react to the 3D model. It can also be helpful for your lighting crew to achieve a look that fits the VFX that will be added in.
You could even use the Windows Mixed Reality Viewer when doing location scouting; take your 3D models along and find some nice practical environments that fit your model, load them into the app, and take screenshots for your crew’s reference later.

There are pretty much limitless ways to utilize on-set 3D models for VFX pre-visualization, so import some of your own 3D models, and see how mixed reality can improve the production of your movie!

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