Three Keys to Shooting Interiors Virtually: Plan, Collaborate, and Pivot

Prior to a recent virtual production workshop at Vū Nashville, we shot a short film just before our attendees arrived. The film was a holiday short with the purpose to show examples of how interior scenes can be enhanced and made to look completely realistic using the power of virtual production.

Many techniques were applied to pull off a virtual shoot that appeared like it was shot on-location. Below are three primary takeaways from the shoot and workshop, as well as considerations for utilizing virtual production for your interior scenes. 


A man sitting in front of a computer display participating on a workshop.

Virtual production allows for a high level of control and customization in creating a film or video. Using Unreal Engine to create a virtual environment is a powerful tool, but it's important to plan for any unknowns. Specific elements may need to be added in advance to ensure that the necessary resources and time are allocated for the desired final product. Not every single thing can be changed instantly. For example, if you wanted to add a specific building, it would be necessary to know that in advance.


Collaboration between the art department and the virtual art department is crucial in order to ensure that the virtual and practical elements match and feel natural together. The process begins with storyboards to establish the shooting needs and blocking of the environment. Next, the process moves into texturing, coloring, and modeling the virtual world to create a realistic and cohesive final product. Pre-light allows for fine-tuning of the blend of virtual and practical elements, with the ability to perfect the virtual set before shooting begins.

Working with Unreal Engine environments rather than using video plates offers more control of your virtual  environment, allowing more options for real time changes to the lighting within the environment.

When thinking of virtual production, your mind probably thinks of large expansive exterior landscapes. Our goal with this workshop was to provide examples that spark different ideas for use of virtual production.

people on set at a virtual video production

This rooftop exterior scene benefited greatly by shooting in a studio. You have full control over elements such as lighting, cloud placement and sun positioning, weather elements (snow) without the risks of danger for the talent and equipment. This virtual set also allows for the same level of realism without the need for an actual rooftop location, which can be helpful in situations where accessing a real rooftop is not feasible or safe.

In our rooftop scene, additional elements have been added to the ground to make it look dirty and realistic. The more weather elements (controlled wind, snow, dirt) you can add takes the realism up a notch. This specific LED wall has a 2.9-pixel pitch, which determines how close the camera can be to the wall. To maintain a realistic look, it is generally recommended to keep talent or subjects at least 8-10 feet away from the wall.


Virtual production with real-time environmental frame adjustment.

In a virtual production, it is possible to quickly and easily adjust the environment and framing in real-time. However, it is important to plan for any unknowns and specific elements that need to be added in advance to ensure that the necessary resources and time are allocated for the desired final product. Shooting in a virtual production environment eliminates many of the challenges that can arise on location, such as noise, wind, and limited time due to sunset. It is also possible to add elements such as wind and snow effects to enhance the realism of the scene. Consider how elements in the virtual environment would behave in real life. Adding movement to plants in an outdoor scene is a subtle tweak to maintain a sense of realism in the final product.

One of the main benefits of shooting in a virtual environment is the level of control that is possible. This allows for quick customization and flexibility, such as quickly changing the color of trim or molding without the need for physical renovations or the cost of hiring an artist to paint. This can be done with just a few clicks of a button, saving time and resources. Additionally, it allows for the option to remain in a specific time of day, such as Golden Hour, without the sun setting. You can shoot any time of day, all day. The lighting can also be easily changed to match the desired time of day, such as switching from nighttime to daylight. This allows for greater control and flexibility in the final product.

On-set vs. Final Frame

A group of people standing on a stage.A picture of a man, a women and a little girl.

You can get incredible results shooting interiors in virtual production. Success in virtual production relies on careful planning, strong collaboration between the art department and the virtual art department team, and the ability to pivot and make changes as needed. The examples of the rooftop exterior scene and flexibility of control in lighting and time of day showcase the versatility of virtual production and how it can be used in different ways to achieve the desired final product.

Make sure to check out the holiday short film we made, which showcases everything above and all of the topics covered in the workshop. Be sure to watch the workshop for expanded insight and detailed discussion. 

If you have any questions about shooting interiors for virtual production or any upcoming projects that may be a good fit for ICVFX we’d love to be a resource for you. Let’s talk.

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