ReadySet Studios in Amsterdam is paving the way for virtual production (VP) and in-camera VFX (ICVFX) in the Netherlands. Co-founded with Planet X, the leading Dutch visual effects studio, the 5500-square-foot facility recently celebrated its first anniversary, offering services to feature films, episodic television, and commercial productions. By leveraging Planet X’s expertise in traditional VFX workflows, content creation, and real-time render engine developments, ReadySet Studios offers optimized end-to-end visual effects and ICVFX production pipelines for creative professionals centered on innovation and sustainability.
For the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest 2023, one of the world’s most-watched annual television shows, ReadySet Studios delivered virtual production services to client Bruut Amsterdam for a special music video performance by Mia Nicolai & Dion Cooper featuring their song Burning Daylight — the official entry that will represent the Netherlands in the competition. Gregory Samson directed the project, with Bruut Amsterdam’s Deniz Alkaç serving as executive producer.
The Making of Burning Daylight
Burning Daylight was shot almost entirely on the ReadySet Studios LED virtual stage, marking Bruut Amsterdam’s first foray into virtual production techniques. ReadySet Studios merged physical sets of various locations in the video, including a restaurant, multiple living room versions with action taking place at different times of day, and a nightclub scene with a small stage that the singers perform on with virtual sets of a small nightclub setting. An important caveat for production was that at the time of filming, the Burning Daylight song was still strictly confidential and could not be leaked under any circumstances.
“With only three weeks to pull off the entire production of Burning Daylight, we needed a fresh solution to meet the challenges of creating entirely new worlds without compromising on our creative vision or drawing unwanted attention to the talent and song,” outlines Alkaç. “We contacted ReadySet Studios to leverage virtual production techniques to great success.”
“As the first full-service VP/ICVFX studio in the Netherlands, we were excited to collaborate with Bruut Amsterdam and showcase the benefits of virtual production and the versatility that our studio can offer in creatively capturing our national music talent on a tight deadline for one of the most highly anticipated televised events in the world,” says Idse Grotenhuis, ReadySet Studios’ managing director.
The Burning Daylight Story
“Burning Daylight takes place in a variety of settings that, if using traditional production techniques, would have required the crew to travel to multiple locations,” adds Grotenhuis. “Filming on the LED volume allowed our virtual art department to support the creative brief and quickly change story locations while credibly showcasing ReadySet Studios’ agile storytelling approach and real-time, sustainable production solutions.”
“I was pleasantly surprised by how far virtual production technology has come,” notes Samson. “Working with the ReadySet Studios team, I could modify content quickly and easily, exactly to my liking. We could never have shot the video within budget to achieve the desired look if we had built all this as a set. Without having to rush or travel gave me much more time to work with my actors and crew to create something beautiful.”
ReadySet Studios’ Dennis Kleyn, founding partner and VP/VFX producer, explains that shooting the music video in virtual production solved logistical and creative efficiency challenges as the team used a smaller physical set yet could believably ‘sell’ the full production value of larger locations. “ReadySet Studios created all on-screen content for Burning Daylight entirely virtually, full CG,” says Kleyn. “Although we use photographic references to capture certain moods and correct lighting, there were no existing locations.
“The entire virtual production approach made it possible to shoot six locations within a short time, preventing company moves and enabling the busy artists of the song to make the most of their time within a single shooting location at the facility,” he added.
Meeting the needs of the fast-paced production timeframe required intense pre-production collaboration among all creative teams to find the ‘sweet spot’ between high production value and managing the decisions of which set elements would be created physically or virtually.
Building the Sets
Florian Legters, ReadySet Studios co-founder and chief production designer, oversaw designing and building the physical sets, including an ingenious central ‘portal’ with doors to ‘connect’ the multiple virtual scenes the artists walk in and out of from one location to another.
“The physical set served as an anchor to the virtual scenes to mirror the turbulent situation between the two main characters allowing them to cross borders between day and night,” outlined Legters. “It also provided a space to convincingly show places that could never be close to each other or prove impractical in real-life single shots.”
Planet X’s Robert Okker, head of virtual production/VFX supervisor, was responsible for the design and execution of the Burning Daylight virtual sets and overseeing the technical aspects during the shoot.
“We created three fully dynamic and real-time virtual production scenes in Unreal Engine 5.1,” Okker says. “Working closely with the production team, we took visual cues and inspiration from Legters’ physical sets, paying special attention to the foreground set elements and props, including tables, chairs, and practical lights. Collaborations between the gaffer and on-set Unreal artists further ensured accurate blending between real foregrounds and virtual backgrounds.”
Okker adds that shooting on the LED volume offers versatility to capture multiple angles for final pixel in all directions. “We utilized Unreal Engine and Stype RedSpy 3 for real-time camera tracking to create Burning Daylight virtual set elements optimized with predetermined interactive lighting and color schemes. Although combining the photorealistic requirement while preserving real-time performance is always a challenge, the VP/ICVFX workflow convincingly allowed us to respond to feedback from the director, DP, and other creative stakeholders throughout production and even offer last-minute tweaks and adjustments.”
The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 final competition airs on Saturday, May 13. Additional information and viewing schedules are available here.
Burning Daylight Music Video Credit List
- Music Video: Burning Daylight
- Artists: Mia Nicolai & Dion Cooper
- Director: Gregory Samson
- Producer: Martijn van de Vrie
- DOP: Zeeger Verschuren
- Produced by Bruut Amsterdam
- Executive Producer: Deniz Alkaç
- Production Designer: Florian Legters
- Art Director: Sanne Croonenberg
- Virtual Production Studio: ReadySet Studios
- Head of Virtual Production: Nils Pauwels
- Virtual Production Technician: Daan Geurts
- Virtual Production content by: Planet X
- Virtual Production Supervisor: Robert Okker
- Virtual Production Producer: Dennis Kleyn
- Virtual Production Coordinator: Gijs de Groot
- Lead Unreal Artist: Philippe Trijnes
- Unreal Artists: Jarno Blankesteijn, Jiraphat Wonganan, René van Zon
•The latest versions of Unreal Engine include Lumen and Nanite technology, new real-time global illumination, and intelligent geometry streaming capabilities.
•A 14 x 5.5m (46 x 18ft) LED curved screen from ROE Visual can display still photos, pre-shot 2D plates, and elaborate 3D Unreal Engine scenes and environments.
•The StYpe RedSpy 3 camera tracking solution ensures real-time match-moving of the physical camera to virtual environments with increased accuracy and less latency.
•With ASSIMILATE, ReadySet Studios further develops color grading and finishing functions in SCRATCH for the most efficient real-time 360-degree plate playback for a streamlined LED virtual production workflow.