Producing in Real Time

2:00pm in Studio A

In this session, All of it Now’s Executive Producer Nicole Plaza takes a deep dive into the skills and knowledge needed to produce real time content for virtual production. Whether you’re creating virtual environments for an ICVFX shoot or 3D augmented reality graphics for broadcast, Nicole will break down the tools, team, and technology needed to make your virtual production project a success.

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Nicole Plaza  00:12

Typically I stand way in the back of the room and let other people do things on the stage. So this is new for me. But I want to thank Laura and framework for having me. I was very surprised when I got the message from Lauren asking me to be here. Because I feel a little bit of impostor syndrome being here with this group, knowing that so many of these people are highly, highly technical. And I feel like I’m probably the least technical of the people attending today. No people speaking. But I do feel like I have a lot to offer you guys in terms of my knowledge in producing and sharing how to work with folks like yourself, as well as communicate within different departments. So FIDE, watch out, I’m self taught. How do you become a real time producer? I don’t know, it just happened. I don’t know if people are like going to school for this yet. A virtual production is really, really new. And it’s constantly evolving. So we’re kind of making it up as we go. But this is becoming a producer, something that occurred naturally for me. And it was a series of all the things that happened in my career up until this point that allows me to do the job that I do. So I want to share with you guys a little bit of my background, so you can understand where I came from. And hopefully that will give you some context as we’re going into deeper, talking about departments that we interact with, to give you an understanding of how, how and why I know how to communicate with these people. So currently, I’m an executive producer, all of it now, on the day to day, that means that I managed, all of the projects, and all of the staffing and all the personalities that come along with it. But when I’m on job site, I can fit a wide variety of roles. I’ve been a VP, producer, I’ve been a VP supervisor, de facto before that was a title. I’ve been a volume UPM, I’ve been a bad supervisor. And what I find is that like my range of knowledge on any given day can fit into each one of these different holes. It just depends on the project and depends on the team that you’re working with. It depends on the creatives. So this is like a little timeline of my career. I started at SCAD Savannah College of Art and Design. When I was in high school, I was a technical seller. And I really wanted to be a costume designer. I remember watching like behind the scenes videos of people making movies talking about how they dress people. And I was like, Oh, this is great. This is what I want to do. Once I got to SCAD. In the production design program, they asked you to not only do the major that you want, but also fill in on the other departments so you have a perspective of what other people’s lives are like. So on the scenic track, you have to work as a carpenter and approps master. On the lighting track, you work as an electrician or a lighting designer. So the first job they put me on was as a master carpenter, or assistant master carpenter, and I was no good at that. I was a little bit too afraid of powers loss. And after that, they put me on a lighting crew and like a little bit of like magic happened where I was like, Oh, wow, this is the combination of art and science that I never knew existed. And I was a kid who went into like physics and calculus in high school and then went to art school and never had to take a math or science class ever again. So finding lighting was was something eye opening for me that I never expected to find. I never had any interest in it prior. So once I once I was at SCAD. For a year, I switched majors within the same production design department. But I went to studying lighting design, and upon graduation and while I was still in school, I had an internship with PRG doing CAD drafting. So learning how to draw out ground plans. I worked in lighting prevous, helping concert touring lighting designers pre visualize their shows. And then from there became a lighting coordinator, I worked in permanent installations, I worked in lighting rentals for live television shows, corporate events, just anything live. And then you’ll see this like big gap in the middle. And that’s where I wasn’t really happy being a lighting coordinator and I started playing roller derby which brought in a whole other range of skill sets. But I think that will bleed in a little later as I talk about teamwork. After that, in 2016, I was helping PRG with their corporate trade shows like their internal ones. So that was my first experience working with LED as an environmental lighting source. And then the following year, we started doing poor man’s process with LED walls and motorcycles. So my job in that was designing the booths, helping install it, overseeing all the crews that that put them in essentially acting as a producer but with the title of you know project manager From there, a few years later, I decided to shift careers a little bit and went to be a technical designer, working with everyone who’s sitting here. We’ll be talking later today. What we, what we did as technical designers, we worked a lot with LED and custom led manufacturing, looking at creating custom rigging solutions for, for LEDs for concert tours and things like that. In 2020, after the pandemic hit, I was lucky enough to keep my job throughout working as a draftsman and a technical designer. But in 2020, I had my first XR project, and very similar situation to working on corporate trade shows for PRG was thrown in and kind of had to take the lead, I’ve thought, I’m just gonna oversee the installation of LED and lighting, and things like that, but had to step into a role where I was consulting with the directors and dps on how to use the Technology. And that was where I was in this like, weird, VP supervisory role before there was really a title for that. After that, I did a couple more XR projects. And I met Danny Furbo, from all of it now. And we worked on a project together, and we went through a bunch of battles together. And he and I said to Danny, like, do you like a job for me? Like, I really like working with you. I really like what you guys are doing. I like the energy that you guys bring to the fields. And from that, he said, Yeah, absolutely. Do you want to go to Saudi Arabia? And I said, No. But if you have another job, like, let me know. So I joined Danny, and in 2021, I did my first project with Volumetric video, working as a production manager, not on the Content side of things, it was a lot of me watching dudes tinker with computers and get angry at each other, which is also where I learned how to manage those personalities a little bit. In 2022, I had my first broadcast Augmented Reality Project, working at Coachella, and we did that again this year, which was a lot of fun. And then in 2023, I had my first project as a bad supervisor, working in icy VFX. So this is just to give you an idea of a trajectory. I’m sure there’s other virtual production producers and real time producers who have very, very different backgrounds, but just want to give you some context of where I come from. And so as I’m talking about departments later, you know, why am I no those things? This will be a quick slide, just talking about real time production of virtual production. I’m not going to talk about XR today. And because like we’re standing on an XR stage, and I’m pretty sure you guys know what a frustum is. But I will talk a little bit about ICV effects. So this past winter, I got the opportunity to work at the fuse and MBS stage in Bethpage Long Island, which is a massive, massive volume. It’s we spent, I think, four months there is a long time. But talking about ICV effects, we had real time Content playing back on on screens for film production, doing both 2d plates as well as full Unreal Engine scenes. The My heart is in augmented reality. So what we do at all of it now is we work with broadcast AR, when you talk to people about AR a lot of them will take out their cell phone and be like Snapchat, Instagram filters. And we’re like kind of. So what we do is we take it up a level, and we do augmented reality for live streams and broadcast. We add tracking devices to broadcast cameras, and add AR graphics 3d Content on top of the raw Camera feed to make a composite that is a more beautiful, magical experience. Here pictured here is Disney’s in concert with the Hollywood Bowl that we did last November and got nominated for four Emmys, which is really exciting, including outstanding technical direction and Camera work, which I think is the closest thing that augmented reality could be considered for. And what you’ll notice here on the screens, there’s IMAX screens on either side. So this was a twofold project for us. Not only did we do real time playback of AR for the people in the audience to see what was going on, as well as we did post renders, forte post renders for the broadcasts that went to Disney plus as well. So a pretty thick pipeline. This is also a project that we pitched ourselves. We went to Disney and said, Hey, we heard you’re doing this. We think we can make it cooler. So this was like probably one of my more exciting projects and one of my favorites. Talking about ICD effects and AR what I really want you guys to take home today is that ICD effects and AR are not that different. Very similar staffing, very similar workflows, same Technology. And I consistently produce these two projects, these two types of projects with the same team. So we’ll go on set and Do both ICD effects and AR both use Track Camera and real time graphics. And those are like the two major components of them. ICD effects and AR are kind of inverted. Whereas with ICD effects, we’re projecting a background behind the talent, whereas AR, we’re projecting the graphics on top of the raw Camera feeds. So in front of the talent. Just a little bit about all of it. Now, we’re at a small team of designers, show programmers, technical artists, technologists, and just really smart humans who love what they do. The common thread throughout all of our work is real time Content, we very rarely work with anything that’s pre rendered. So we like to keep it as live as possible. This is an image from Unreal Engine, I think that uses for film production, but I blacked out a couple of things. Because this is the Olivet. Now pipeline, this is where all of it now fits within the spectrum of virtual production. So we can fill any of these roles that are featured here. as much or as little as the pipeline as a project requires. So sometimes we’re just doing creative development, and we’re making Content and sending off a scene to a stage to be produced, or to be shot. Sometimes we’re taking in other people’s Content, optimizing it, integrating it, and then executing it on site. And then for things like in Konto, we take that into post and we do our own VFX work as well. This next slide is about inter departmental interactions. So as a real time Content producer or real time producer, the workflows are the same. And the people you need to talk to are very, very similar. In terms of production, you need to talk to your producers UPS about money, you need to talk to your director. So they know what’s what’s going on. Are we have a lot of interactions with the art department in terms of working in bad for AR, our department is a little less, but we do still work with art directors to make sure that our graphics are in line with with their vision as well. And then on the ISV effects side working as bad working directly alongside the production designers who are telling us how they want their scenes to be built. Camera is obvious, there’s always Camera that need to work with first ACS and people like that. And then we start to see a split. But I want to draw some parallels between between these groups. So in ICD effects, you’re going to talk to a bunch of engineers who are managing all the server room. In the AR side of things for broadcast, they call this a Tag Manager. And tag managers are my favorite people of all the people that you can work with. Because I know that if I ever come to a Tag Manager with a problem that they’re going to solve it immediately. They don’t want a problem on their plate. And they always have a bag of tricks to fix whatever, whatever we messed up. In terms of video and led ICV effects, we’re standing on an LED stage that requires technicians to manage this and make sure that it’s working functioning properly. As well as when you’re on set and you’re operating. You can’t let your stage go black. A big big problem for everyone on set. If anything happens at the walls, they all freak out, they think that the sky is falling. And being able to keep your walls up allows them to continue to light things while you’re working in the background. So having a close relationship with LED is really important. Because we’re constantly asking them to freeze the wall so we can do other things in the background. While no one really knows anything’s going wrong. On the AR side we need to work with with video. I forget where I was going with that one. But we work in the video teams as well. I’m Oh in terms of Projection and led as well. For in concert with the Hollywood Bowl, there was Projection Projection map the front of the bowl and all of our AR effects extended out from and was motivated by the Projection that was happening. So we work alongside screens producers, very often to make sure that our our looks are cohesive as well. They don’t always see what we’re doing. But we also need to make sure that we’re matching what they’re doing. The next one is electrics and lighting. When you’re on a film set, they call it electrics, you have your your gaffer your best boy in AR, they just called the lighting department we work with lighting designers, lighting directors programmers. On the ICV effects side, it’s really important that we talk to them because we have things like installing ring of fire lighting around the top of an LED wall. So we can replicate those effects with lighting outside of just using the LED on the AR side. Especially thinking about like those particle systems that I showed you earlier within Konto. We worked with a lighting designer to ask them to add some motivated lighting to it so we add as the butterflies were coming over we asked some hay Can you take a gold wash and kind of graze sorry, graze this area of of the audience so that there’s a little bit of a you can see the impact of the glove they are features as well. This year, we had a really great experience at Coachella working with the gorillas, and their lighting team with Matt Pittman. And he was brilliant in realizing when his lighting effects were ruining the illusion of the augmented reality graphics. So we worked really closely together to ensure that he never put lights that went directly into the Camera that would blow out the lens and make our graphics look funky on top of what was already coming in from the raw Camera feed. grips and staging are the other department that I love. And I think this is because I come from, you know, a hands on production background, grips and riggers are all gritty guys. On the icy VFX side, we need to make sure that they understand when they’re messing up with our tracking markers. I have threatened many a have a grip, to he has to let me know if he moves that trust. And if you establish a really nice relationship with these guys, they will let you know as soon as it moves. I remember the last time I was on set, I came in one morning, and the trust was down. And as soon as the man saw me, he runs over and says, I swear it didn’t touch anything. So having a good relationship with your grips, and your staging supervisors is really important. On the AR side, it’s a little different, we usually don’t have as much trouble of tracking markers, as much as we do with the platforms that are jibs are on, sometimes they wiggle and we need them to like super reinforce them, because any sort of any sort of wiggle will affect all of our tracking data. On the ICV effects side, we also work with VFX, not in the final product, but in ensuring that when they need to do scans of the set that is properly lit in the way that they need. I know on a recent project, I had to take a bigger hand with the effects and making sure that they had exactly what they needed. Like making sure that things were lit evenly. A lot of times, they leave it as like an afterthought. And yeah, just just really ensuring that they have a good final product. Because if we hand off, you know scans that don’t look good, then they’re composites aren’t going to work either. So we want to make sure that these both match an AR going back to in Content we work in post, but in a similar fashion where we are doing our own VFX and then handing that off to the post team for final render renders. And then there’s two color, some playback, those aren’t really related, but I wanted to make sure I include them. Because color is so important on led stages. Personally, like I’m not going to teach you about color, I’m not good at it. I don’t have a good eye for it. But our relationship with our di t is really important and making sure that we’re all working in lockstep. And then on the AR side, playback is really important, knowing who’s sending us timecode, who’s going to trigger our effects, and having a good line of communication with them. So that is all the departments that you need to interact with, and how they differ between AR and IC VFX, but are still kind of similar. This is a sample technical pipeline. And I apologize to any vendors that were included on this because I know a bunch of you are in the room. But this is a sample project of an AR project that we recently worked on showing all the tools that we use from the planning stages, which are like the Nicole tools mero sheets notion, which those kind of carry through as well. Just like Perforce, which is along the bottom, our source control software, we have a slew of 3d modeling software’s that we use. The heart of most of our projects is with Unreal Engine. So you’ll see that carried across what we’re working on to be effects we work with Houdini to make procedural systems. Once we’re on site, our personal preferred tracking is SType, we have a very good relationship with them, we share an office with them. Really nice guys, as well as new stage precision. Also to clean our our tracking data sometimes as well as add additional controls, and post production working with Unreal nuke VW suite. And the reason I wanted to show this to you guys is because I’m not going to show you an IPC VFX workflow because it’s exactly the same, we use the same tools. So if we’re working in bad, same modeling tools, same previous and unreal, same execution on site, including stage precision in our in our latest project as well. Next, I want to talk about staffing because it takes an army to make these projects happened. These people are some of my closest friends. When When staffing a job I want you guys to think about roles and hats. I stand here as an executive producer and manage projects. But I also take some other hats within my company which you know Sometimes I’m editing marketing copy, sometimes I’m dealing with people’s time off. And the same thing happens on set where you will put somebody to see, and they are an unreal engine operator. But it really helps if they know about networking, and they know about Camera tracking, we want to have overlaps in those skills. And when staffing a job, I tend to chronically overstaffed my jobs, mostly because we work in beta. So things go wrong all the time. We just really try not to show anybody that it’s happening. But if I have one guy who is digging into a problem and Unreal Engine, and something else goes wrong, I need someone else people to jump in, I can’t just have one, one operator. So having teams with overlapping skills is really, really important. As well as for contingency planning, like COVID, still real and it takes people out from jobs, and making sure that you have enough staff to cover if you lose somebody is really important. On my latest job, not the latest job, the previous job, we had five people within the volume get COVID at the same time, or within like the same week of each other. So that like we got to a point where you almost had to shut down because we didn’t have enough staff to do it. And we had to make really comprehensive flowcharts. To explain. If this, if x happens to this person, then why then this other person can fill in for him. But if something happens to this guy, we have to fly somebody from Croatia to cover all the Camera tracking, because there’s no one else you can cover it the way that that guy would have. So having contingency planning within your staffing is also very, very important. Talking about skill sets. And this is, I’m sure not a complete chart. But on the in the vertical side, over here, we have all all sorts of roles that you’d fit within a virtual production project, whether it’s working as fad, whether you’re working on site, whether you’re working in post, along the top is a bunch of skill sets that you would need to have. So animation, coding, understanding DMX IT infrastructure. And you can see here that there’s, there’s a lot of overlap within the skill sets. But what helps for us is that our team under like, understands what each other is doing. So I, I always say that when we’re hiring, we’re looking for breadth over depth. I want somebody who knows multiple softwares has multiple skill sets, and can jump in when needed. Rather than somebody who is only going to be able to do one thing, I don’t need a one trick pony, I need somebody who like when they see there’s a problem can jump in and help. And this isn’t like a fully complete list. This might also be a wish list who like that I, I want my I don’t know, DevOps person to understand modeling software might be a little bit weird. But you know, it’s also for the the people on our team do have as well. And if you see any errors in this, please come and see me because I will add extra boxes. And if you see a column that’s missing, if you think there’s a skill set that I didn’t cover, please come and see me as well. Next up, I want to talk about team building. And again, like I said, these are my closest friends. We spent a lot of time together. As I said earlier, we spent four months in an LED volume. We were living out of hotels we’re looking at at Airbnb, Airbnb ease together, we get crammed into little tiny buses to get shuttled around to lunch. As well as, if you look on the top left there, that is our Coachella truck from 2022, where there wasn’t even enough room to walk between seats. Having a strong team and having like symbiosis within your team is incredibly important. Because we rely on each other. And if one person is having a bad day, it can tank your whole team. And this is something I learned really early with roller derby was that like one bag, bad egg on the bench can like tank your whole game. So being really protective of who you also bring into your team, and how that messes with the flow and the functional way of of your organization. Again, talking about breadth over depth, looking for people who can cover those skill sets. Also trying to build trust between these these groups of people. A lot of times we have to take our project files and hand them off to someone else in the team for them to continue working with it. Why don’t you need to make sure that you know the person who you’re handing it off to you’re not handing them a mess, like make sure it’s organized, have an understanding of how they’re going to need to use those files afterwards. So you’re setting them up for success as well. And I think that’s why I love working with such a small team is because I know that all of these guys have a comprehensive understanding of how their work affects somebody else on their team. So you’ll see us here and zoom we have a bunch of remote employees as well who are like our modelers and our technical artists who sometimes come out on job site but a lot of times they’re far away. But you know, team building on Zoom is also important. opening lines of communication and creating that camaraderie. Yeah, and Then, to wrap up, this is probably my last slide actually, I have some advice for inspiring producers. My first one is Be humble. VP isn’t it’s infantile state, every production, like the roles are constantly changing. There’s no qualifications to being like a VP, supervisor or VP, producer. So be honest about what you know. And you don’t know. Like, I was on a job recently where I turned to my VP soup, and I said, and I was acting as bad supervisor, I said, I can help you with moving scenic stuff around, I can help you with making sure that it looks the way that the director and the production designer want it to look, when it comes to the Camera and the lens and lighting and color. That is your game like, I am not going to get in your way I want you to handle that. And being honest and transparent about where your strengths and weaknesses lies is really, really important. Because that also builds trust within your team as well. Knowing where you stop and and and knowing that that’s where the handoff happens. I worked with a gentleman named Mark Olson at PRG, many, many years ago, and I was on my first Auto Show and the auto show lighting guys were like very particular about how they received their equipment. And I was very stressed about it. And Mark was even stressed about it. But he gave me one piece of advice that always stuck with me. And he said, Just don’t lie to them. Don’t tell him you know, something that you don’t know, they’ll see right through it. Don’t tell them that the gear is gonna come by 3pm If you don’t think it’s really going to come by 3pm. Give them realistic and, and be honest with them, because they’re going to trust you. The other thing about being humble, is apologize and acknowledge when you’re wrong. I know a lot of people, especially within virtual production, sorry, guys have ego problems of I think there’s something about like having this massive LED wall and you can like do whatever you want with it that makes people feel really, really powerful. But yeah, shake that ego off. Realize that this is a team sport, we’re trying to be collaborative. And yeah, just acknowledge when you’ve done something wrong, and make sure that you make it right with those people, you’re going to work with them again. Fix it and pray is my next one. You know, we all do virtual production. So we can save money in post, which we also know is not always the case. But when I say fix it and pray, I’m talking about scheduling, make sure that you allow for enough time to get the job done that you need to. And an advocate for it, like make a schedule, put it in front of the producers tell them hey, on this day, I need this to be done. And I need this from you. A lot of times, we’re working with productions who haven’t worked in virtual production before and they don’t know. So give them a schedule and have them add it into their master schedule. I don’t let them keep virtual production separate from their main production like we should we should all be functioning together. You saw earlier, there’s so many interactions that we have to have in department interdepartmental Lee, and it really sucks when you’re left off that call sheet. And people don’t even know you guys are in the room. But like you’re doing virtual production. So you there’s a you know, a 95 foot LED wall behind you. And they’re they just assume that you’re not there. But yeah, BTS, about your scheduling, make sure all your boxes are checked and advocate for that time you need educate everyone, we have a motto at all of it now called everyone teachers, everybody learns. And we really like to try to share the knowledge that we do have, I work really hard with our people about documentation, making sure that we, we as we are troubleshooting that we we write down all the things that happen because you forget and then passing that knowledge on to the next person down the road. When I’m talking about education, I also mean educate your clients, educate your director, educate your DP, make sure that they understand what they bought into. Sometimes you’ll have an executive producer of a project who really wants to do virtual production. But you have a DP who’s never done it before or isn’t totally on board or is hesitant, but bring them in with open arms. Like show them your worlds like we have a lot of fun. And I think like the DPS that we’ve really like taken under our wing and explain things to we showed them previous really opened their eyes to the possibilities and made their lives easier in the end. The next one is anticipation. Anticipate every ask that you imagine come to you. And this also comes with experience in knowing like, Hey, can you make that blue? Is something that pops up or hey, can you make that door slam you want to be able to anticipate what the next Ask is going to be because it’s only gonna make you more prepared. And there’s a lot of frustration in virtual production when when things don’t happen fast enough. So if you can anticipate what their assets are going to be, you’re golden you’re set up for success as soft eyes is something that I picked up from roller derby which I think is actually a football thing, but this is my number one tip as a producer. Earlier I said I usually stand in the back of the room and What I’m doing in the back of the room is scanning because a lot of my job is in planning. And that happens in free. And then once I get to a job site, I stand in the back and I just keep soft eyes, meaning I don’t focus on one person right in front of me, sorry, Michael. But I keep a soft eyes to the room. So I can kind of see what’s happening around me, I want to know what’s happening in the periphery. And I want to see problems before they come in. So sometimes I’ll be standing there and I’ll see, you know, someone bringing in a trust that has tracking markers on it, which means recalibration. And then I’ll go over to my tracking guy and be like, Hey, why don’t you go talk to to our grip over there, and just walk back away, making sure that they also have the connections that are happening, keeping softwares in the room to anticipate those problems. Also, protecting your guys from distractions. Which brings me to my last point, which is protect your team. A lot of times, like our Unreal Engine operators need to be able to focus, they need to sit down and be able to work really hard. And they can’t have people bugging them constantly. They can’t have a bad supervisor and wanneer and the VP supervisor and the other and a director and the other and the DP and the other like they don’t have that many years. Nor they have the brainpower to deal with it. And something that I think is like the most important thing is just playing defense for your team making like trying to intercept any of those problems, before they come their way trying to solve the problems before they make they make it their problem. The other thing I want in terms of protecting your team is overworking and burnout. A lot of times the film schedules that exist are built for standard production. And they don’t realize that there’s time needed before the production or after the production for us to set up or to wrap or to troubleshoot problems for the next day. So protect your team advocate for the time that you need. Because you don’t need to be working 17 hour days, that’s ridiculous. Like if the actors have an eight hour day, and the Camera guy has a 10 hour day like why are we working fourteens like we can also make room for for our time as well. In protecting your team also is making sure they eat. Which sounds silly, but what I’ve noticed is that if you have a group of technicians and operators, essentially nerds, and they are not fed, they start to argue. So making sure that people are well fed and like even budgeting for additional food money is really, really important because that’s the thing that’s going to keep them happy. That’s the thing that’s gonna keep them working. A lot of times you’ll you can have a guy who will sit literally sit at a computer for 1718 hours, as long as you just keep bringing him you know, Diet Cokes, and sandwiches, grilled cheeses. That’s true. And then my last tip in protecting your team is notice when your guys need a break. Notice when someone’s in distress. That is like a big thing that I don’t think a lot of people realize. And this goes back to that like, like, like, you can have like a weak chain and your link. If someone and like having a bad attitude tank your bench. If someone’s in distress, it could also lead through and infect the rest of your staff. So being aware of when your guys need a break when they need to take some time off, when they just need a minute to step outside and yell. It’s okay. But just being aware of your team’s needs of how they’re feeling. Because we like virtual productions, a lot of fun, but we have to maintain that. And I feel like my job as a producer is also in making sure the team is happy that they’re able to do their jobs. There’s one that I forgot to put on here. And this will be my last advice for aspiring producers is find good partners. Find people you can trust find people who when you don’t have the knowledge base can cover those gaps. Find somebody who you know that like if you’re in a stressful situation will pick up the phone at midnight and help you out. And this also goes as well not just for internally within your team as partners, but also with your vendors as well find vendors who you know, we’re gonna support you we’re gonna pick up the phone when you have problems and establish those relationships. And that is it. I just want to thank everybody for your time. Again, if you saw any errors in any of my charts, please let me know. I’m very open to that discussion. And I just want to thank you guys for the time

Laura Frank  34:39

I have a question. Can I have my microphone check. Can you open up my mic? I know

Nicole Plaza  35:00

Sorry, guys, I wrapped it earlier than I was supposed to your microphones aren’t ready.

Laura Frank  35:05

Can I have my mic? Sorry? Can I have my mic? Check? Am I okay? I’m gonna ask the first question. Your slide, I just want to call out for everyone in the room. As an executive producer, it is so meaningful to me that the top point in your advice was to be humble. I think that is so powerful. You can, you can get a lot done with an open heart and a little humility. And I just want to say thank you for pointing that out. So my question and that is, have you changed hearts and minds around you, like softened a brick wall? Because people see that in you when you are leading as an executive producer?

Nicole Plaza  36:00

Yes, I’ve definitely seen the staff change. And I apologize if he’s watching right now. But I had somebody a year or two ago, turn to me and say, when I asked him a question, go, well, that’s not gonna happen. And I slammed my iPad shut, and I walked off off out of the truck. And I was like, I can’t deal with this right now. And after that job, I was like, I don’t know if we’re gonna have him back on set. I don’t know if he’s, he’s the right fit. And I’ve seen him turn around. And I’ve seen him also take that he has a humble pie and change who he is as well. And now he is one of my favorite operators, and I would not do a job without him.

Laura Frank  36:39

Great questions in the room. Thank you.


Thank you. Thanks for the interesting presentation. And you showed us the differences in synergies between IC effects and AR. What about doing both? So did you ever film in front of an LED volume? And did AR on top? And is this a thing in the industry?

Nicole Plaza  36:58

Yeah, it’s called XR. I think a lot of people forget that set extension is an AR element. And honestly, like we have this joke, that we go, I don’t want to XR or you guys wanted to XR, we didn’t want to XR. And it’s because color calibration is really, really hard between the color that’s coming out of your LED and the color of your your AR set extension layer. So that happens very, very often. And I’m sure JT and team here does it, do it all the time.



Laura Frank  37:32

Other questions? Down in the front place.

Nicole Plaza  37:41

Hi. Hi, Shelly. Hi, Nicole. I’m curious about what your experience was like going into a film set that had people that hadn’t really worked with the Technology before? And what it was like dealing with those kinds of Did you find yourself approaching it differently? Do you have an introduction of Oh world? To any, you know? Yeah, well, my first experience with XR productions and having to work directly with directors and DPS was after watching a day of them turning off their comp, and not looking at it at all, and then having a lot of messed up footage, having to have a meeting the following morning and say, Hey, guys, these are your limitations. And I think part of that was an interesting growth on my own part, that I didn’t realize that I had the power within me to speak up to that group of people. Like, very, very intimidating to like come in as like a production manager who only deals with the Technology side of things, and have the guts to say hey, like, this is how it has to be done. And I think like that was the moment where like, I found this grit within myself. And like, The world hasn’t been the same since. I think also like, you come in educating more. Because of that, like you learned from that experience. And you make sure that you’re preparing people mentally, as they’re coming into your space and invite them into your world, show them what the toys are, show them how to have fun with it. One other follow up to that is, which is the title of you know, what you call yourself? You know, I think it’s interesting, because it’s so many different things. And you know, would you just call yourself a producer, technical producer, or even producer or translator, what is it?  Like master communicator? It was when Danny hired me, he handed me a job description that said, executive producer, and I called up why from locs. And I was like, why? What does a producer do? Like I know that’s your title. And his answer to me was you don’t let the job fail. And I think that’s, that’s what I bring to the table as well as keeping a holistic eye on the production as a whole. And making sure that you know, there’s never any any weaknesses within that.

Laura Frank  39:59

Other questions? and anything from our online chat All right, thank you, Nicole.


working, project, lighting, ar, production, producer, team, led, effects, xr, tracking, problems, important, room, supervisor, vfx, prg, virtual, technical, department


Nicole Plaza, Laura Frank

Session Highlight Reel