- Country: United Kingdom
- Initial release: May 15, 2023 (United Kingdom)
- Film Director: Tim Webber
- Running Time: 14 Minutes
- IMDB Grade: 7.5
In the realm of experimental sci-fi filmmaking, one name stands out: Tim Webber. Renowned for his work as the Oscar-winning VFX supervisor on films like “Gravity,” Webber has now taken on the role of director for his groundbreaking directorial debut, “FLITE.” This innovative sci-fi short film pushes the boundaries of virtual production, utilizing Framestore’s cutting-edge VFX and virtual production pipeline built around Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of “FLITE,” exploring its creation, unique techniques, and the impact it has made on the industry.
The Vision Behind FLITE
“FLITE” takes place in a semi-submerged London of 2053, where the reigning world champion hoverboarder, Stevie (played by Alba Baptista), finds herself imprisoned in a luxury high-rise apartment by her controlling manager. Determined to escape, Stevie embarks on a daring high-rise escape with the help of a courageous stranger, leading to a thrilling and unpredictable journey. The film explores the concept of memory visualization, offering a hyperrealistic look into a futuristic world.
Framestore: Pioneers of Virtual Production
As the Chief Creative Officer of Framestore, Tim Webber brings his vast experience and expertise in visual effects to the world of virtual production. Framestore, a leading VFX facility based in London, was the perfect partner for “FLITE,” having previously worked on groundbreaking films like “Gravity” in collaboration with Webber. With their latest iteration of their virtual production pipeline, known as FUSE (Framestore Unreal Shot Engine), the team aimed to create a seamless and collaborative environment for artists to work within the real-time engine.
Unreal Engine: The Heart of FLITE’s Innovation
Central to the creation of “FLITE” is Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, a powerful real-time 3D creation platform. The collaboration between Framestore and Unreal Engine allowed for the development of groundbreaking tools and techniques that pushed the boundaries of virtual production. By utilizing Unreal Engine, Webber and his team were able to achieve a level of interactivity and realism that was previously unimaginable. From sophisticated previsualization to asset management and VFX shot production, the Unreal Engine played a pivotal role in bringing Webber’s vision to life.
The Challenges of Creating CG Humans with Emotional Performances
One of the key challenges faced by Webber and his team was creating CG humans that could deliver genuine emotional performances. Visual effects often struggle to capture the subtleties and nuances of human expressions and emotions. To overcome this, the team developed hybrid animated humans, combining the unreal world with real performances. Motion capture technology played a crucial role in capturing the performances of the talented cast, including Alba Baptista, Gethin Anthony, and Daniel Lawrence Taylor. Through a combination of motion capture and innovative lighting techniques using LED walls, the team was able to achieve a level of realism that is rarely seen in CG characters.
The Power of Virtual Production in FLITE
Virtual production techniques played a vital role in the creation of “FLITE,” allowing the filmmakers to visualize and execute complex shots in real-time. Through the use of LED walls and the integration of live-action footage with the virtual world, Webber was able to create a seamless and immersive experience for the audience. By having live previews of the final shots on set, the team could make immediate adjustments and ensure the desired visual impact. The combination of real-time rendering and interactivity provided by virtual production techniques enabled the creation of long, complex shots that effectively conveyed the story from the perspective of the protagonist.
FLITE’s Impact on the Industry
“FLITE” has garnered significant attention within the industry, not only for its technical achievements but also for its thought-provoking narrative and stunning visuals. The film has showcased the immense potential of virtual production in creating compelling and visually stunning stories. By pushing the boundaries of what is possible with virtual production, “FLITE” has opened up new avenues for filmmakers to explore and has sparked a renewed interest in the use of real-time engines like Unreal Engine. The success of “FLITE” has cemented Tim Webber’s reputation as a visionary director and solidified Framestore’s position as a leader in the world of visual effects and virtual production.