When Amazon approached Aggressive to design the set and show package for their “Prime Rewind: Inside The Boys” the studio spearheaded a technique to eliminate green screen and post-production.
Projection mapping, LED-driven visuals and elements of Augmented Reality and Extended Reality are integral parts of the toolbox of Aggressive (www.aggressive.tv), the New York production and design studio. Headed by the Grammy award-winning filmmakers Alex Topaller and Dan Shapiro, the creative production company crafts commercials and music videos for some of the world’s biggest brands and artists such as Samsung, Boeing, Ford, Toyota, Michael Jackson, Pharrell, Stone Temple Pilots and Tiesto among many others.
So it’s no surprise that when Amazon and Embassy Row approached the studio to design the set and show package for their “Prime Rewind: Inside The Boys” series – which takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes exploration of its hit action-comedy “The Boys” – the company built on its experience and spearheaded a technique that unified the look of the entire project while eliminating the need for complex green screen shooting and months of intense post-production. At the same time, this process dramatically reduced the number of crew required to be present on set.
The Realtime SetMapping technique
Aggressive has dubbed this technique Realtime SetMapping, and is ready to roll it out on a broad scale to clients across the spectrum of broadcast promotion, branded content and advertising. For “Inside The Boys,” which comprises nine 30-minute episodes hosted by TV personality Aisha Tyler, Aggressive created a show open and accompanying branding.
To execute the package, they created an immersive virtual CG set where Tyler could dish on the series, do cast member interviews and provide fans with additional show-related content. Displayed on an array of connected 4K LED panels, this CG-environment tracked camera positions, allowing them to move freely in any direction while the backdrop shifted and changed perspectives correctly for each corresponding camera angle, in real time.
AR and XR content was then layered on top of the footage being captured on the virtual set, with all the elements recorded simultaneously. The BTS video above shows how the Realtime SetMapping technique works.
Minimal post production
“Our Realtime SetMapping technique allowed multiple cameras to move freely through the space for each of the episodes, capturing the host interacting with guests in a dynamic, believable and authentic way,” explains Aggressive Executive Creative Director Alex Topaller.
“The virtual set enabled custom depth-of-field and dynamic lighting effects driven by the LED tiles, real-time video guest appearances, as well as a slew of in-show animations and Easter eggs that we were able to trigger on cue,” adds Executive Creative Director Dan Shapiro. “With all the visuals being rendered in real-time, last minute adjustments to art direction, virtual propping, virtual set dressing and lighting were done smoothly, easily and efficiently on the shoot day. This allowed us to deliver the final results in camera, which in turn led to minimal post production.”
From “Inside The Boys” to Alicia Keys
“Blending cutting edge Realtime SetMapping with smart visual design, we shaped the look of the show and transformed it into a novel live execution that pushed the boundaries of the medium and elevated the concept of the entire season,” notes Topaller.
Aggressive also developed and directed an hour-long XR live performance, which premiered on September 18th, 2020, to launch Alicia Keys’ eponymous new album ALICIA. American Express and Momentum engaged the company to create the event as part of American Express’ prestigious UNSTAGED concert series.
While the event was “virtual”, filmed in a stage and streamed around the globe, it was key for Aggressive to deliver the authenticity and emotional impact of a real concert experience, so the studio opted for a multi-camera longform broadcast approach. In this way, Alicia and her band could play each act in its entirety, settling into a groove and allowing Aggressive to capture the spontaneous energy and magic of the performance in the moment, as it happened.