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The YouTuber who built a '10 million dollar studio'

🌐 Accessibility in VP, Cine Tracer 2 Set Building

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Welcome to VP Land 🌐

Got an exciting edition to kick the week off - an in-depth conversation with Coffeezilla, the YouTuber who busts crypto scams.

If you’re not familiar with him, his videos take place in an office that looks like Sam Sapde’s office in The Maltese Falcon - but in the year 2084.

Plus he has conversations with a robot bartender and digs around filing cabinets in a virtual version of the internet archive.

All from a green screen set up in his house.

Plus we’ve got some VP reports that should be on all producers’ radar - accessibility in VP and choosing which route to go when figuring out budget and VFX.

Alright, let’s jump into it!

STAGE A

Behind the Scenes of Coffeezilla: Virtual Production on YouTube

Coffeezilla is a YouTuber and investigative journalist with over 3 million subscribers. He covers and debunks scams - mostly crypto scams.

But what makes his videos unique is the virtual world he’s created where the videos take place. He jokingly calls it ‘the 10 million dollar studio,’ a cyberpunk, film noir style city with his own detective’s office.

In the latest episode of VP Land, Coffeezilla breaks down the thought process behind the creation of his virtual world, the tools and gear he’s using, and how he manages to pull off creating these elaborate videos with a tiny team.

Watch / Listen & Subscribe

Production Takeaways

  • Lean Team: Coffeezilla keeps his operation lean with only 3 people, himself, his 3D artist/animator, and a video editor.

  • Blender and Render: He didn’t have systems powerful enough to run Unreal without lag, so all of the sets are built in Blender and rendered out as looping videos. The looping videos run for his real-time capture shots.

  • Aximmetry, his keyer of choice: He originally keyed in post but wanted faster results. He found Aximmetry had the best keyer, even better than Ultimatte.

  • ICVFX vs Post: All of Coffeezilla’s shots where he’s sitting at his desk, speaking to the camera are final pixel, using the Blender video renders of the room and composited in real-time in Aximmetry.
    The more advanced VFX shots, such as conversations with his robot bartender or where the camera is moving are composited later. He uses a Mo-Sys StarTracker for camera tracking.
    A lot of this has to do with the small team - there aren’t enough people to build an environment ahead of time. Plus, he needs the flexibility to change something later in post instead of committing in production.

  • Little Tricks: The noir window blind lighting - Aputure’s gobo cutout. The matching light in the virtual environment sells the effect. And the coffee steam - looping steam added in post (after trying multiple practical effects).

Big Picture

Coffeezilla is the most prominent YouTuber who has gone all-in on virtual production, but we’ve also been seeing other creators use high-level visual effects for their videos.

MrBeast has been using a variety of set extensions to enhance the scope of his competition videos, like his Squid Game remake or global competition video.

Adoption of virtual production, especially higher-end tech, will only continue to grow in the YouTube creation space.

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SECOND UNIT

Producer Tools: Accessibility in VP & ICVFX Flowcharts

♿️ Rhys Miles Thomas and Paul Burke just released a report on the role virtual production can play in making filmmaking more accessible. Thomas says, “[virtual production is] a technology that can provide the accessibility needed for Deaf, Disabled, or Neurodiverse people to thrive creatively.”

🗂️ Nathan Bazley created a comprehensive flowchart with a series of questions to help determine when virtual production is the best option (and when it isn’t).

💰 Nathan also has an essay arguing that there’s VP for every budget. “Even at the premium end of the industry - you’ve got to constantly ask yourself if you need 3D when 2D plates would do the job.”

There’s a grid breaking down what types of scenes work well with 2D plates, 2.5D, and when you need full 3D scenes.

CASTING CALL

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