University to showcase pioneering cost-effective method for virtual production filmmaking

Categories: Research, School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

The University of Salford is delighted to be hosting a film production company this April as they pilot a new experimental way of making films with cutting edge technology at a lower cost.  

Grey Moth will be working at our MediaCity campus as they trial their new approach of a more affordable way for filmmakers to use virtual production techniques in modern-day filmmaking.

The bespoke method, developed by Grey Moth’s Daniel Garden and Charles De La Mare, uses tools such as Move.AI, MetaHuman and traditional 3D animation techniques to do motion capture (mocap) filmmaking without the participants having to wear the distinctive mocap suits.

A ring of synchronised iPhones will capture the actors’ movement, who will be wearing go-pro cameras, with the footage from the phones then collated into a single stream that can be developed within the gaming engine Unreal. The hope is that this method will open up previously cost-prohibitive technology to filmmakers working at all budget levels.

The result of the project will be a short film, funded by the British Film Institute (BFI) Network, called Into the Betaverse, a science-fiction, comedy drama that will be a mix of mocap and live action as the characters move between scenes in the betaverse and the real world.

Following three days of shooting, a workshop ‘Into the Betaverse: Making Movies with Unreal Engine’ will then take place on Friday 5 April with Film Hub North to present the findings and is open for filmmakers, animators and those across the Manchester area with a keen interest in new filmmaking technologies.

Roger McKinley, Creative Technology and Content Manager for the University’s Technical Services team, said: “We are delighted to be hosting Grey Moth and to provide a space that can help take this fascinating project to the next step.

“This project is another feather in the cap of this University’s burgeoning reputation as a home for experimental filmmaking and groundbreaking filmmaking techniques which are going to become key tools for how films are routinely made in the near future.”

Chuckie McEwan, Head of Production at Grey Moth & Producer for Into the Betaverse, said: “The filmmaking landscape is so challenging for newcomers and indies. We are excited to share our budget-friendly approach to motion capture, and also to be sharing this exclusively with Manchester-based filmmakers in the exact setup we’ll be using for filming our BFI Network & Film Hub North-funded short film.” 

The workshop will consist of a presentation on the project’s findings, followed by a Q&A with the Grey Moth team and then a demonstration of their mocap setup in a practical session before some networking to end the day.

Into the Betaverse is co-written and co-directed by Manchester-based award-winning duo Varun Raman & Tom Hancock, known professionally as Parallel Madness. It was developed as part of Film Hub North 2022, and was awarded funding from the BFI in 2023.

Varun, Tom, Chuckie, Daniel and Charles will be in attendance for the workshop which will take place in the Digital Media Performance Lab from 10am to 4pm.

Tickets are still available for the workshop.

Please email workshops@grey-moth.com with any questions.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.