Digital Day 2023

Digital Day 2023: Where Vision Meets Innovation

August 26, 2023 A Special Projects Committee Event

Since 2003, the DGA has hosted Digital Day events dedicated to providing members with exclusive knowledge and access to innovations designed to enhance and improve productions. On Saturday, August 26, DGA members and guests returned to the Guild’s Los Angeles headquarters for Digital Day 2023: Where Vision Meets Innovation.

Co-hosted by DGA Special Projects Digital Day Subcommittee Co-Chairs Randal Kleiser, Susan Zwerman and Michael Goi, DGA Digital Day 2023 welcomed more than 400 members and guests to the live and in-person event that featured engaging presentations, panels, exhibits and hands-on demos about the latest developments in VFX, cutting-edge production tools and virtual production.

Digital Day 2023Welcome

The day began with a welcome from Special Projects Committee Chair Jeremy Kagan. Then Digital Day Subcommittee Co-Chair Randal Kleiser — speaking on behalf of Co-Chairs Susan Zwerman and Michael Goi and Subcommittee members Brian Frankish, Scott L. Rindenow, Oz Scott, Arthur Allan Seidelman and Jay Torres — gave a quick slide presentation of the exciting lobby exhibits before welcoming the first panel of the day.

Digital Day 2023Directors Roundtable: New Technology in TV

In a conversation moderated by Director Greg Yaitanes (House of the Dragon) and illustrated by clips from their shows, Directors Deborah Chow (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Chris Fisher (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds), Gandja Monteiro (The Walking Dead: Dead City) and Bola Ogun (The Witcher) spoke about how they and other Directors working in television are utilizing the latest VFX, Special Effects and Virtual Production technology to bring fantastical stories to life like never before.

During the conversation the panelists revealed how they all combined practical effects and virtual effects in their respective projects to create more authentic worlds. All agreed that one of the greatest challenges was how time consuming it can be to prep and build their voluminous sets but are excited by the promise of ever-changing technology improving virtual production. These technical advancements allow them all to focus more on the creative aspects of directing and to push forward the story within each of their projects.

Digital Day 2023The Superpowers of Large Format Filmmaking: Director Ángel Manuel Soto & Editor Craig Alpert on Blue Beetle

In this presentation introduced and moderated by Digital Day Subcommittee member Jay Torres, Director Ángel Manuel Soto and Editor Craig Alpert spoke about how deciding to shoot for IMAX led to the creation of an immersive cinematic experience in the new superhero feature, Blue Beetle.

Soto and Alpert revealed that they didn’t shoot everything in IMAX, but chose when to incorporate the large format into the narrative. For the pivotal superhero transformation scene, they “popped” into IMAX to enhance the importance of the moment. They explained that in the following scene, the film seamlessly returned to normal format giving audiences the ultimate immersive experience.

Digital Day 2023Spirits, Scares, and One Spooky Ride: Director Justin Simien & Composer Kris Bowers on Haunted Mansion

In the final program of the day, Digital Day Subcommittee Co-Chair Michael Goi moderated a conversation with Director Justin Simien and Composer Kris Bowers about how blending original music, cinematography, production design and VFX brought an iconic theme park ride to life (and death) in the new Disney feature, Haunted Mansion.

Simien and Bowers explained how computer apps helped them both in their respective visualization processes throughout the production. Simien relied on virtual storyboarding apps to communicate his directorial vision to his crew and the producers without stifling any creative and supernatural elements necessary for the film. Similarly, Bowers used virtual music synthesizer apps to assist in creating the film’s soundscape.

Digital Day 2023: Where Vision Meets Innovation closed with wrapping comments from Digital Day Subcommittee Co-Chair Susan Zwerman, who thanked the audience for their participation, the subcommittee members for all their support in making the event possible and encouraged everyone to take advantage of the hands-on demos still going on in the DGA Los Angeles lobby.

Exhibits & Hands-On Demos:

Digital Day 2023: Where Vision Meets Innovation also featured Exhibits & Hands-On Demos including:

  • A look at how to create high-quality video with Blackmagic Design's film cameras URSA Mini Pro12k and the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro.
  • A demonstration of how to schedule productions with Cinapse Scheduling, a revolutionary collaborative software designed by ADs, for ADs.
  • Innovations from Cinema Devices in production equipment designed for dynamic floor-to-ceiling camera moves, adding stabilized hand-held looks, and support to mic boom operators during long takes in the digital era.
  • How to streamline extras casting, digital vouchers, and a payroll system with Everyset, a management platform.
  • How custom virtual production workflows from Fuse Technical Group can provide Directors and ADs with hardware and software solutions for their next feature film or broadcast live event.
  • A demonstration by Iconic Engine of a way to build metaverse experiences by creating solutions and providing a complete workflow to power and serve the global XR industry.
  • A demonstration by Lux Machina of how to transform the virtual production world by developing and engineering cutting-edge technical solutions as seen in major e-sports tournaments and notable films.
  • A demonstration by Mesh of how to produce your next virtual production project within the context of a show through script breakdown, scheduling, and budgeting.
  • How Previs Pro’s Ghostwheel can make storyboarding as simple as playing the Sims, create 3D accurate boards, leverage AR and LiDAR to create sets fast.
  • A demonstration by ProdPro of how to access exclusive intel on TV and film productions brought to you by their expert research team in a modern, easy-to-use platform.
  • How Robot-Robot’s portable turnkey motion control service can record typically difficult shots in a studio or at your location.
  • How to plan your next shot list and shooting schedule and gain complete control of time on set with Shot Lister, a live shot list that changes with you while you shoot.
  • A demonstration by Sony of how to explore a new visual medium leveraging high-speed vision sensor technology to enable a high-resolution 3D modelling experience and create motion capture contents anywhere to stream anytime.
  • A demonstration by Suite Studios of how to collaborate with editors and VFX artists in real-time to review choices and make decisions from anywhere in the world to speed up the post process.

See video from this event in the gallery below.

About the Panelists:

Directors Roundtable: New Technology in TV

Deborah ChowDeborah Chow
In addition to Obi-Wan Kenobi where she was nominated for the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television & Limited Series, Chow’s directorial credits include episodes of The Mandalorian, Mr. Robot, Jessica Jones, American Gods and Better Call Saul. She has been a DGA member since 2014.

Chris FisherChris Fisher
In addition to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Fisher’s directorial credits include the features Taboo, Nightstalker, Meeting Evil, Dirty, S. Darko, Hillside Strangler and Street Kings 2: Motor City; and episodes of The Equalizer, The Stand, The Magicians, Person of Interest, Warehouse 13 and Cold Case. He has been a DGA member since 2007.

Gandja MonteiroGandja Monteiro
In addition to The Walking Dead: Dead City, Monteiro’s directorial credits include episodes of Agatha: Coven of Chaos, Wednesday, The Witcher, Panic, Brand New Cherry Flavor and The Chi. She has been a DGA member since 2018.

Bola OgunDirector Bola Ogun
In addition to The Witcher, Ogun’s directorial credits include episodes of Queen Sugar, God Friended Me, Lucifer, Charmed, Siren, Two-Sentence Horror Stories, Raising Dion, Shadow and Bone, The Boys, Legacies and Walker. She has been a DGA member since 2019.
Greg YaitanesGreg Yaitanes (moderator)
In addition to House of the Dragon, Yaitanes’s directorial credits include episodes of Presumed Innocent, Castle Rock, The Twilight Zone, Manhunt: Unabomber, Quarry, Banshee, The Old Man, Snowfall, Grey’s Anatomy, Genius: Picasso, Lost and Bones. He won an Emmy Award in 2008 for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for his work on House, M.D.; and led his team to 29 Emmy Award nominations and six wins, including the first Emmy Award nomination for content aired exclusively online for the Fox series, Drive. Yaitanes joined the DGA in 1997.

The Superpowers of Large Format Filmmaking: Director Ángel Manuel Soto & Editor Craig Alpert on Blue Beetle

Angel SotoÁngel Manuel Soto
In addition to Blue Beetle, Soto’s directorial credits include the feature films Charm City Kings, The Farm and Frailty; and episodes of the HBO Max docuseries Menudo: Forever Young. He has been a DGA member since 2018.
Craig AlpertCraig Alpert
In addition to Blue Beetle, Alpert’s editing credits include feature films such as Aaron & Adam Nee’s The Lost City, Patrick Hughes’s The Man from Toronto, Larry Charles’s Borat and Jason Woliner’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm; Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, Funny People and The 40-Year-Old Virgin; and Elizabeth Banks’s Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2.
Jay TorresDigital Day Subcommittee Member Jay Torres (moderator)
Torres’s directorial credits include episodes of CeReality, Life, Desperate Housewives and Alias; the shorts Dead End, The Lost Archives of Quincy Taylor and Learning to Fly; as well as commercials for Walmart, Footlocker/Reebok, Skechers, Buick, Texaco, DirecTV, Universal Studios, and the LA Times. A DGA member since 1999, Torres currently serves as a Co-Chair of the Latino Committee, on the Special Projects Committee and is a member of its Digital Day Subcommittee.

Spirits, Scares, and One Spooky Ride: Director Justin Simien & Composer Kris Bowers on Haunted Mansion

Justin SimienJustin Simien
In addition to Haunted Mansion, Simien’s directorial credits include the feature films Bad Hair and Dear White People, and episodes of the Netflix series Dear White People. He has been a DGA member since 2013.

Kris BowersKris Bowers
In addition to Haunted Mansion, Bower’s composing credits include feature films such as Peter Farrelly's Green Book, Reinaldo Marcus Green's King Richard and Liesl Tommy's Respect; and episodes of Secret Invasion, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, Bridgerton, Inventing Anna, Raising Dion, Colin in Black & White and Dear White People.

Michael Goi Digital Day Subcommittee Co-Chair Michael Goi (moderator)
A DGA member since 2015, Goi currently serves as a member of the DGA Special Projects Committee and is Co-Chair of its Digital Day Subcommittee. He also currently serves as a Co-Chair of the DGA Television Diversity Task Force and as an Alternate on the Western Directors Council. He also previously served as a Co-Chair of the DGA’s Asian American Committee and as an Alternate to the DGA National Board. Goi’s directing credits include the feature films Megan Is Missing and Voyeur; the pilot of Avatar: The Last Airbender; and episodes of the television series Big Sky, Sexy Urban Legends, Pretty Little Liars, and American Horror Story. He is also known as an acclaimed cinematographer with over 70 narrative credits and has earned Emmy nominations for his cinematography work on Glee, American Horror Story and My Name Is Earl.

About the Special Projects Committee

Special Projects is the educational and cultural arm of the Directors Guild of America, providing its members opportunities for creative exchange to advance their craft and celebrate the achievements of directors and their teams. The Committee is chaired by Director Jeremy Kagan. The Digital Day Subcommittee is chaired by Randal Kleiser with co-chairs Michael Goi and Susan Zwerman; and the Digital Day Subcommittee members are: Brian Frankish, Scott Rindenow, Oz Scott, Arthur Allan Seidelman and Jay Torres.

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