Image courtesy of BY Movie Production Company

How BY Movie Production Company and Wargaming created a World of Tanks ad in three days with virtual production

Want to take crews anywhere from Mount Everest to another planet? BY Movie Production Company has you covered. Step into the Belarusian studio, and you’ll find a fully equipped, 1,200-square-meter production complex—complete with a brand new LED stage inspired by The Mandalorian

For General and Creative Producer Olga Mikhalenka, the stage reflects the all-in-one approach to filmmaking that BY Movie has had from the start. “We’ve always offered clients everything from directing and cinematography to visual effects in house,” she begins. “When we saw the power of virtual production on The Mandalorian, we knew it was the missing puzzle piece to our pipeline.”

By 2020, the BY Movie team decided to invest in an 18-meter-long curved LED screen—a setup that transformed their offerings, giving them an instant toehold in the rising field of virtual production. The upgrade quickly led to a variety of new projects, from an ad campaign for World of Tanks, all the way to BY Movie’s very first web series.
Image courtesy of BY Movie Production Company

An ad for accuracy

“Wargaming came to us asking whether we could help promote an upcoming World of Tanks event called Black Market,” Mikhalenka remembers. Attended by thousands, the event would give players the opportunity to buy rare in-game items, including tanks. As players moved around online stores during the event, mini-movies showed why some tanks were at a discount while others were no longer being sold. Wargaming aimed to depict how powerful the Black Market could be through a Guy Ritchie-esque ad about a black market tank robbery.

The only problem? All the photos and marketing materials for the event had already been created in advance. BY Movie’s ad had to have photoreal backdrops that looked as similar to the premade visuals as possible. “There was no room for error,” Mikhalenka explains. “We decided to use virtual production to guarantee we could produce the most accurate final result.”

The BY Movie team began by creating multiple real-time environments in Unreal Engine, including a tank hangar, garage, and office space. Director Ilya Kluysha and DP Konstantin Ivanov collaborated closely with both Unreal Engine specialists and gaffers to ensure each would look as accurate as possible. Once finished, the team projected the environments onto their in-house LED screen with Unreal Engine’s multi-display rendering technology nDisplay, prepping the room for live shoots that would perfectly match their actors against the 3D backdrops.
Image courtesy of BY Movie Production Company
In less than three days, the BY Movie team and Wargaming’s creative department had captured four different scenes in 12 virtual locations. “Capturing this many environments in such a short time period would have been impossible without virtual production in Unreal Engine,” says Mikhalenka. “With Unreal Engine, all changes to our on-set lighting could be made immediately, on demand, without the need to re-render the location. We could also place actors in any real or fantasy world, without the time and financial costs of constructing scenery or taking the crew on a round-the-world trip.”
Image courtesy of BY Movie Production Company
Virtual production also helped BY Movie better integrate and control the VFX on set. When a scene required a gate to explode behind the hero, Kluysha and Ivanov could simply press a button to make the explosion happen at the right time. They could also easily change the look of the explosion and even color grade it live on set, without waiting for post.
Image courtesy of BY Movie Production Company
By the time the World of Tanks ad was delivered, the BY Movie team’s virtual production work was so successful that they decided to create a new in-house project, a web series titled Dunno, to test it further. 

Building an in-house web series

Based on the well-known Russian fairytale by Nikolay Nosov, BY Movie’s Dunno takes viewers deep into a dystopian sci-fi future, where characters battle on the moon. Unreal Engine was used to create everything from the initial animatics through to the final locations on the show, which were captured in real time with foreground actors.
Image courtesy of BY Movie Production Company
“The project happened spontaneously,” says Mikhalenka. “We shoot a lot of in-house projects, for practice as well as to present future clients with a better idea of our work. With Dunno, we aimed to create a series for our online platforms that would serve as a proof of concept for virtual production tech.”

To do this, BY Movie focused on creating high-polygon locations and 8K textures that would push their pipeline as far as possible. The team also experimented with the best cameras, optics, and set design options.
Image courtesy of BY Movie Production Company
Within just one month, the BY Movie team had completed all pre-production, capture, and post on a trailer.

“By normal production standards, we did it lightning fast,” says Mikhalenka, revealing that the story was refined over a cup of coffee, and the locations developed in record time with help from assets and scenes from the Unreal Engine Marketplace.

“Together with our World of Tanks ad, it really showed us how important virtual production would be for our future. On feature films and advertising projects, you can save time and money while reducing the risk of results you don’t like. On game cutscenes and trailers, all you have to do is put a live character in your pre-existing Unreal Engine environment, without spending months on graphics. Whatever your story, we’re convinced that with virtual production, there are now endless possibilities for bringing your vision to life.”

    Get Unreal Engine today!

    Get the world’s most open and advanced creation tool. 
    With every feature and full source code access included, Unreal Engine comes fully loaded out of the box.