Ted makes at order at Billy’s Bar inside the ASC Clubhouse.

Fuzzy Door Tech Spotlights ViewScreen at ASC Clubhouse

The technology division of Seth MacFarlane’s production company demonstrate their innovation used on Ted and The Orville: New Horizons.

Richard P. Crudo, ASC

The terms previs and postvis have long been familiar to cinematographers. Now, a new term is about to enter the lexicon: ProVis.

During a recent dinner meeting at the ASC Clubhouse, members were introduced to ViewScreen, an app that uses a patented suite of augmented reality visualization tools to simultaneously integrate VFX and live action in real time. This mode of production visualization represents the latest method for achieving higher levels of precision in the practice of the craft.

A digital “Ted” is placed within the Clubhouse via ViewScreen. (Photo by Stephen Pizzello)

Developed by Fuzzy Door Tech (a division of multi-hyphenate Seth MacFarlane’s production company), ViewScreen’s family of products simplifies cumbersome and time-consuming aspects of feature and television work by allowing filmmakers to visualize and animate an entire scene — including digital assets — across multiple cameras.

Until now, working with digitally generated characters or objects required a great deal of imagination and guesswork to assume what should be playing in the empty part of a shot. By making the invisible visible, ViewScreen Studio and ViewScreen Scout allow directors, cinematographers and camera operators to see the whole scene as it’s happening on set, enabling instant feedback and far-reaching image control.

The Studio version is built for full-scale productions and can be used anytime during filming to visualize props, characters and environments, on set or on location. Synchronized by time code across any number of cameras, elements can be precisely placed as the scene is witnessed through the viewfinder. No additional equipment is needed. By removing the guesswork, the app expands creative capabilities and provides confidence that the right shots are captured in the right ways during production.

As a real-time scouting app for the iPhone and iPad, ViewScreen Scout is similar in nature; it records how digital assets will look on location or on a soundstage. By collaborating through shared rooms, crewmembers can pre-visualize scenes, virtually walk through sets, block movement and visualize lighting before filming begins. Actors can also animate digital characters while filmmakers observe on their device. For example, while an assistant director is scouting locations, a cinematographer can join a shared room remotely and adjust the location’s lighting as it is simultaneously witnessed by all connected parties. The ability to visualize and animate digital assets and VFX in situ and react directly to what is seen on an iPhone or iPad means getting the desired shots in fewer takes.

Through his work on the feature and streaming series Ted, MacFarlane is no stranger to dealing with digitally generated characters. He’s also familiar with the challenges such activities present. “ViewScreen takes the guesswork out of the directing process,” he maintains on the Fuzzy Door website. “Now you can see VFX elements in real time, as you’re shooting. It’s a true advantage for every facet of filmmaking because it accelerates everything we do. It allows for faster decision-making, quicker visualizations and provides a clear framework for postproduction to ensure [that] the director’s vision is accurately achieved.”

The ViewScreen products have already made their mark, transforming and accelerating MacFarlane’s production process. The Scout version was critical for planning and blocking shuttle landings as part of Hulu’s The Orville: New Horizons. ViewScreen Studio also allowed MacFarlane to direct and animate Ted’s face and body movements during filming of the series and gave the extended team visibility to evaluate shots as they were happening.

Faith Sedlin, president of Fuzzy Door Tech, echoes McFarlane’s assessment on the website. “Ultimately, the ViewScreen suite of tools is focused on production visualization, or ProVis, for short. ProVis is the ability to visualize digital assets in a live scene in real time — anytime during production. With ViewScreen, you can evaluate, animate and fine-tune every aspect of your production to capture the perfect shots more quickly and efficiently.”

Subsequent to the Clubhouse dinner demo, ASC member Dave Perkal said he was very impressed with the presentation and the tech on display. “Fuzzy Door’s ViewScreen apps are a vital new tool for every creative in production. This innovative technology delivers real-time visualization of VFX assets within a non-destructive workflow, offering the creative freedom and flexibility to steer the process. Assets can also be composited into the camera operator’s eyepiece, allowing for precise framing of the action. Gone are the days of waiting for a previs that you wish you could reblock on the day.”

ViewScreen Studio runs on off-the-shelf consumer hardware and is compatible with the latest macOS (Sonoma) and Windows 11. It can be used with any cinema camera, wherever a production is based. ViewScreen Scout runs on iOS devices, including any iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max and higher or any iPad Pro M1 and higher.

Both apps are available now for use on film and TV productions in the U.S. and Canada. ViewScreen Scout is included with ViewScreen Studio and can also be purchased separately. Pricing for ViewScreen varies based on the requirements and complexity of the production.

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