Meet Addy Ghani, disguise’s VP of Virtual Production

Bringing over 15 years of experience in feature animation and VFX, Addy Ghanirecently joined disguise as our Vice President of Virtual Production (VP of VP). Following a 12-year stint at DreamWorks Animation, Addy has, in the past few years, been captivated by the opportunities that VP presents to filmmakers. Coming from his most recent role as Director of VP at RYOT, Addy joins disguise to help our creative community realise their wildest creative vision. We sat down with Addy to learn more about him, his new role and the future of filmmaking.

You have been venturing into VP in the past few years, with your latest position as Director of VP at RYOT. Tell us more about how you became interested in the field?

During my DreamWorks days, we knew that feature animation was ahead in the media landscape in many aspects of digital storytelling such as photoreal rendering and simulations. The real breakthrough was the growth of game engines, which has democratised all of the possibilities of high-end visual effects with very little of the cost.

In the last three years, I went from being an Unreal Engine novice to a Fellow and saw first-hand how it shortcuts the production process by combining multiple departments within one DCC package. It was at this time I knew that something special was happening in media and entertainment.

Today, VP is the culmination of key emerging media technologies of the past decade folded into a cohesive and powerful storytelling tool. I’m incredibly excited for the future of VP as we’re just getting started!

From your experience, how do you think VP will impact the film industry?

It will take some time for mass industry adoption. I believe VP will enable studios to do more with less budget. For example, VP unlocks location potential which opens up new avenues for a show’s creative trust. The projects that were once considered too expensive and passed on can now be considered for greenlight.

How does VP improve the experience for the viewer watching at home?

It will empower better storytelling and execution in producing the story. Brilliant creative minds (and technical ones too!) will devise completely new ways to move a camera and render a scene, which will totally change the visual language of the film. The viewers at home are in for a treat.

For you, what are the main benefits of VP in film production?

There are going to be new ways to visualise a shot that we haven’t seen yet. Film production will level up, in the same way that we’ve seen traditional VFX forever alter movies over the last two decades.

What drew you to working for disguise?

disguise is unstoppable. It’s an energetic and bright company within the media landscape with no signs of slowing down. I love the innovative mindset and the rapid pace here. disguise is evolving with the industry and it’s never static.

What are the biggest challenges when it comes to democratising VP and how can we overcome them?

Due to LED and hardware expenses, a lot of indie creators don’t have access to VP yet. I’ve worked with some brilliant up-and-coming creators and there is a large pool of them that are ready and capable of harnessing this new technique.

Mass industry adoption of this technology, however, will drive more R&D into the tech stack and that will ultimately lower the cost of entry. Just think of cellphones 20 years ago and the journey that took – from cell towers to OS to LCD displays – all aspects of the cell phone were innovated on and thus today we have incredible devices in our pocket at affordable prices.

As VP of VP at disguise, what will be your main mission?

I want to make disguise creators successful in achieving their vision. This will involve building a disguise creator community, proliferating VP and educating the industry and public.

You have had quite the career journey. What is the best career advice you have for anyone starting out in film or VP?

Learn something new! Even if you’ve got the mastery of something, there’s always another thing you don’t know yet. All of your knowledge will one day work in unison.

Any hobbies you would like to share?

I take on large woodworking projects for family and friends.

Tell us one thing about yourself that nobody would expect.

My friends and I are working on an upcoming animated show for Youtube.

What is the best example of a film using VP technology that you have seen?

Not too long ago, Virtual Production wasn’t an industry term yet. However, when I attended a Visual Effects Society (VES) event for the making of the film Gravity (2013), I was incredibly inspired by the techniques used. To me, that is the most underrated VP that further established how magical movie-making can be.

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