Patrick Neufond shares his workflow for using augmented reality and wysiwyg together

Patrick Neufond is a Director of Photography (DOP) from France. Patrick was recently tasked to work on the set of Nous Sommes Tous Les Specialistes (We Are All Specialists), a weekly quiz show hosted by Carinne Teyssandier­­­­­­­­­­. The show is a reflection on the diversity of the French and their passions. For this project, Patrick used augmented reality, integrating the scenery with the Unreal Engine and wysiwyg in a unique way, incorporating virtual and real furniture on set.

A little professional background information about Patrick Neufond:

Patrick has been using wysiwyg since Release 5 (2003, almost 20 years) and has been working as a Director of Photography for over 30 years. He is a wysiwyg instructor for CFPTS, a public school for professional technicians who want to expand their industry knowledge and skillsets. LC Formation is a private school for professional technicians that Patrick also teaches at.

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When the opportunity arose for the filming of Nous Sommes Tous Les Specialistes, Patrick Neufond was the right person for the job. With his decades of professional experience matched with being one of the few DOPs in France who is comfortable using augmented reality, it was only natural that Patrick got the call.

With an understanding of each software and its specialty to get the job done, Patrick can pivot to accommodate the demands of each project he is tasked with. in this case, Unreal was the tool to use. Including augmented reality for Nous Sommes Tous Les Specialistes presented its own challenges, like shadows, but if there was anything Patrick questioned, he worked with a team at Unreal to resolve any issues, making the production a comfortable process, keeping those involved up to date with what the set would look like and what the cameras would see at any given moment.

How was this done? How can augmented reality be used with wysiwyg?

First Patrick’s team had to model the real studio with the custom-made décor of the physical studio. Next, the scenery had to be integrated as a 3D model into Unreal. Inside Unreal, the scenery was then manipulated with the use of a green screen to create an extension of the real décor, a virtual extension. This makes the whole set look seamless even though it was a mix of virtual and real scenery. The virtual and real scenery was imported into wysiwyg as an FBX file at 1/1 scale.

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“wysiwyg allowed us to preview and check that the real decor would be compatible with the dimensions of the set. It also allowed us to check the camera axes and focal lengths necessary for filming the virtual and real décor together. The whole production team was able to see in advance what the virtual decor was going to look like on set.” – Patrick Neufond

To do this in the shaded view of wysiwyg, Patrick used 100% transparency on the projectors and technical grill to allow the team to watch and see how the production would unfold as if cameras were rolling.

The beauty of wysiwyg

With the help of wysiwyg, Patrick was able to point out any potential shadows he noticed on the real décor, making sure these are avoided. After checking the axes and the feasibility of the entire project, Patrick confirms the choice of platform for the production. Lighting comes to life next with wysiwyg. Working within the lighting budget and gear list that Patrick is provided, he tests the positioning of the lights, and perfects the upper body shots of the talent, correcting and the shadows cast on the real décor. Once this is done, the final lighting plan is created. The virtual light is programmed using GMA2.

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The beauty of using wysiwyg throughout this production is that Patrick and the production team could see, in real-time, lights being adjusted, programmed, and the complete evolution of the show. By the time cameras are rolling, everyone on set, including the talent knows what to expect, with very little deviation from the script. This is quite an efficient way to reduce rehearsal and production time, be aware of and reduce potential obstacles, and be confident the final product will turn out as planned.

This is exactly what happened, and the result can be seen online as Nous Somme Tous Les Specialistes is live online. The production team was thrilled with the result and pleased that any issues that they may have encountered or scenes that needed adjustments could be handled and taken care of before the show is recorded. All changes, right down to colour scheme and furniture placement, were done before the record button came on.

Learning wysiwyg in France

It is refreshing to hear of governments who value intellectual diversity and the furthering of education, no matter what stage one is at in their career. For any professional who is working in France, after working for two years in their chosen industry, the government offers a subsidy to these professionals to further their industry knowledge, keep up to date with new technology and trends, increase their skill sets and become more valuable members of the workforce.

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This is where Patrick Neufond can help you learn how to use augmented reality and wysiwyg together, among other unique ways of making production visions come to life. As a wysiwyg instructor at two schools, Patrick has taught and helped hundreds of professional technicians over the years reach new career goals.

We thank Patrick Neufond  for sharing this unique production project with us and taking the time to talk to us about his workflow for Nous Sommes Tous Les Specialistes, sharing new possibilities and ways to use our tools to the fullest of their capabilities.

More About CAST Group of Companies Inc.

Established in 1994, Toronto Canadian-based software and hardware developer, CAST Software is a member of the CAST Group of Companies Inc. CAST Software serves its core markets in entertainment production, special events and meetings.

CAST’s award-winning flagship software products are wysiwyg – lighting design and previsualization suite, and Vivien – Event Designer and the real-time tracking technology, BlackTrax.

All products designed and created in-house with support from an established global distribution and re-seller network.