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News roundup: virtual production special from Vū, Sony, ARwall, and Brompton

One of the massive stages at Dark Matters in France
3 minute read
One of the massive stages at Dark Matters in France

We’ve had a whole slew of LED volume news in in recent days, so thought it worth sharing them all in one place as momentum continues to build impressively behind virtual production.

To say virtual production is hot right now is an understatement. Barely a day goes past without the news of some new facility opening or new technological step being taken. How much actual work that’s translating into is another matter entirely, but in terms of building out the facilities to enable work goes, it’s in the bag.

So, here are a few stories in this week, and we’ll start with Vū as it gives us some context for the whole sector….

Vū installs largest virtual production studio in Texas

stray vista studiosThis is something in particular we’re seeing a lot of; claims for firsts, largests and more, all round the world. This one is a case in point, Stray Vista Studios in Austin, Texas, opening a new production volume that it says is the largest in the State. 

At 40 feet in diameter, 80 feet in length, and 16 feet in height with an additional LED ceiling, it’s a big one anywhere in the world, but it shows just how far and how fast the facilities are evolving. Not so long ago people were looking at having to travel even internationally to access such spaces; now they’re cropping up everywhere.

We asked Tim Moore, CEO at Vū about how that expansion was going.

“Two years ago, when Vū began our foray into Virtual Production, we started with only one small LED Volume in Tampa, FL at a time when very few existed outside of Hollywood,” he said. “Today, we've been fortunate to help build more than 20 virtual studios throughout North America, four of which we own and operate ourselves.”

Vū is doing this in part by expanding outside of the core feature film market for such spaces and into production, enterprise brand, and education usage.

"As we look ahead to the future, the demand for LED Volumes in the short-format, commercial sector is leading to a broader expansion, as the number of smaller LED Volumes for this use grows,” says Moore. “As more people are educated and trained on VP techniques, and the price for high fidelity LED volumes decreases, we believe virtual studios will eventually outnumber traditional studios.”

Sony Crystal LED tech debuts in Europe

plateu virtuel sonySony has joined forces with Plateau Virtuel and Studios de France to create the first virtual studio with a 90m² Sony Crystal LED B-series screen in Seine Saint Denis, just north of Paris.

Its USP is that it marries Sony Crystal LED display technology with VENICE camera capture technology, and the 90m2 Crystal LED screen at its heart is gaining a fair amount of attention. Measuring 18 meters wide and 5 meters high, it is composed of 450 “assortments", each including a combination of 8 LED modules, and allows for a very high contrast ratio and a very thin pitch; 1.5mm vs what Sony says is more of an industry standard 2.6mm.

"It's a screen that took 15 days to assemble, working with the Sony teams. Most studio screens are placed on the ground, for us it was important to have a suspended structure in order to be able to slide floors underneath, be they LED or other kind of floors. We also have an LED ceiling that allows us to do integration if necessary " said Bruno Corsini, technical director of Plateau Virtuel. 

That pitch meanwhile should allow the team to bring the camera very close to the screen without a moiré effect, while Sony is also making much of the consistency of the colour spaces of capture (VENICE) and display (Crystal LED) as it rathe uniquely makes both.

Webster University installs ARwall tech

webster university led volumeAlso claiming a first, St Louis’ Webster University reckons it is the first university to have a virtual production facility in the US Midwest. It chose ARwall as the base of its system, the company partnering with LED manufacturer Absen to deliver a new 20 x 12 ft. 1.5mm pitch Absen AX Pro LED wall and ARFX Pro Server System.

Eric Rothenbuhler, Dean of the School of Communications, at the University said: “Virtual production is now an integral part of the overall production landscape, so future professionals should learn these techniques in the same ways as they learn about photography, lighting, editing and other filmmaking processes. The industry is always evolving and we want to make sure our students have access to cutting-edge, innovative tech that will set them up for success in their careers.”

He’s not wrong. Expect to see these smaller sort of stages growing like virtual weeds in film schools and on courses around the world. 

Meanwhile, back in France…

Dark Matters bromptonLastly, Brompton Technology’s extremely well-regarded LED processing is being used by Dark Matters in its massive, six stage facility just outside Paris. 

The complex features six customisable virtual production stages spread across 15,000m², and a 700-strong fleet of high-quality custom built LED panels powered by Brompton kit, namely ten 4K Tessera SX40 4K LED processors. 

“Our biggest stage, ‘Dark Space’, is almost 4,000m² and has been designed for large-scale productions; we can even accommodate a commercial airplane in the room!” says Isaac Partouche, VP Virtual Production at Dark Matters.

One of the key requirements for the Dark Matters’ LED stock was rich colour gamut, so the company specced panels with 16-bit depth, 7680Hz refresh rate and 2.6mm pixel pitch. Together with the Brompton LED processing, they offer exceptionally realistic visuals, especially in the dark and high-luminance spectrum. “Our ultimate goal was to get as close to reality as we could, that’s why we chose custom LED panels powered by Brompton’s Tessera processors to give us a really dynamic range of colours,” says CTO Yaniss Boulanouar.

Tags: Virtual Production