Blackmagic - Molly and Max in the Future - Produccion Virtual - Virtual Production

Production company The Family (Brooklyn, New York) decided to rely on several Blackmagic solutions and virtual production techniques for the realisation of the sci-fi romantic comedy Molli and Max in the Future, which recently premiered at the SXSW Film and Television Festival.

The feature film, starring Zosia Mamet and Aristotle Athari, tells the story of a man and a woman whose orbits constantly collide over the course of 12 years, four planets, three dimensions and a cult in space. The Family’s creative director Steve Dabal led the virtual production of the feature film in developing the environment of a romance with integrity in a fictional world, working closely with director Michael Lukk Litwak and cinematographer and visual effects supervisor Zach Stoltzfus. According to Dabal, it was the “virtual production and virtual art department” that “allowed the team to hone in on the environments to make sure they reflected the characters, including how the main characters.” To undertake the project, all landscapes and backdrops were generated prior to shooting so that all processes on set could be streamlined.

Equipped with DaVinci Resolve Studio, The Family production company achieved a distinctive look in real time on set. “For the in camera VFX scenes, we strove for final pixel since the goal was to minimize the amount of VFX needed in post. A good chunk of plates were 2D content, which gives much less control compared to 3D Unreal Engine backgrounds. To ensure the color matched, we recorded LOG assets on the LED wall and then a LUT was created in DaVinci Resolve Studio that could be added on top of the assets, adjusting the intensity of the LUT on-set for the final look,” explains Dabal.

Other key equipment for the production of Molli and Max in the Future included the ATEM Mini mixer, a DeckLink 8K Pro capture and playback card and a SmartScope Duo monitor.

Blackmagic - Molly and Max in the Future - Produccion Virtual - Virtual Production

URSA Mini Pro 4.6K and 4.6K G2

The Family team also used Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K and Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 cameras for a year of extensive testing, which helped shape the unique aesthetic of Molli and Max in the Future. Dabal elaborates: “We set up a small standing LED stage in Brooklyn that Michael and Zach visited multiple times throughout the year of preproduction. We’d put up content for them to play with and refine the look of the film, for example, testing the color workflow, using focal lengths to convincingly use 2D miniatures as background plates, and defining the look outside the spaceships’ windows. For the scenes in Unreal Engine, we built storyboards that were then refined with stand ins so that on the day of filming, all the in camera VFX was already seen by Michael, Zach, and Gaffer Jesse Moritz.”

The URSA Mini Pro cameras remained on set throughout the entire test. Thanks to the accessibility of their interface, anyone on the research and development team could tweak them to see how different light sources would look in relation to how they appeared on the AV surface.

Blackmagic - Molly and Max in the Future - Produccion Virtual - Virtual ProductionThere were a few days when Litwak couldn’t be on set, as he was busy with wardrobe issues, so the production company fed the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K footage with the integrated visual effects through Zoom, using an ATEM Mini mixer. This gave Litwak the opportunity to comment and comment on the aesthetics, even from a distance.

All of these processes ultimately shaped a film with a particular essence that opens up a universe of possibilities for The Family team: “Our goal is to partner closely with our filmmakers to help make their vision and specific style come to life, and no project exemplifies that more than Molli and Max in the Future. Our Blackmagic Design powered pipeline gave us the flexibility and range to bring their beautiful universe to life. I am proud to have worked alongside a cast and crew that trusted us to be a part of this journey,” concludes Dabal.

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By • 26 Apr, 2023
• Section: AR / VR / XR, Study, Postpro, Television