Underwater Storytelling: Virtual Production Behind Independent Film ‘No Way Up’

April 12, 2024 • 2 minute read

Dive into the virtual production driving the thrilling shots of ‘No Way Up’ – a co-production between Altitude Films and Dimension.

In this deep-dive video, Director Claudio Fäh, Producer Annalise Davis, Executive Producer Steve Jelley (Co-founder and Co-CEO at Dimension), and protagonist Ava played by actress Sophie McIntosh, unpack the visualisation and virtual production techniques used to execute an underwater end sequence (stop reading now to avoid spoilers!).

For this particular sequence, lead character Ava attempts to swim to the surface against the force of a sinking plane. Director Claudio collaborated with our art team in London to plan out this technical sequence. Unreal Engine was used to facilitate all pre-visualisation aspects of this shot and to bring Claudio’s vision to life in real-time. Every technical aspect, from the plane's mechanics to how it would sink, were planned ahead for the virtual production shoot.

On the physical shoot, the sequence was shot dry-for-wet in an LED volume. Actress Sophie was suspended in the air inside the volume wearing a swim harness, with the visualised plane sinking alongside her. This meant Sophie could respond to the environment on the wall and we could achieve long and realistic in-camera shots of her journey to the surface. All services were provided by DNEG Virtual Production, a joint venture between Dimension and DNEG.

By harnessing virtual production, we were able to create a sequence that immerses audiences and defies the usual limitations of independent filmmaking.

‘No Way Up’ is streaming in theatres across Europe and on Amazon Prime in the USA. A UK release is coming soon.

Read more in this article from befores & afters.