The latest word in production technology these days is the “virtual production studio,” essentially where film and television productions can film against an LED wall that allows real-time virtual backgrounds and environments created using Epic Games‘ Unreal Engine. MELS has announced the launch of its own virtual stage in Montreal in collaboration with Solotech. This follows the recent news that VFX company Pixomondo was building its own virtual stage in Toronto.
Solotech will supply the LED screens that will allow MELS’ customers to realize their projects using MELS’ expertise in the latest virtual production technologies using the Unreal Engine’s real-time in-camera visual effects to create the virtual aspect of the stages. ARRI is also a consultant on the project.
The project was completed in six weeks to allow MELS to offer a “complete virtual production solution.” All the services offered, including visual effects, cameras, lighting, post production, technical crews, are linked by fibre optics to all the sets.
According to MELS, “Virtual stages allow productions to work with smaller crews, facilitating physical distancing, and reducing the size and scope of shoots, sets and crowd scenes.”
MELS President Martin Carrier made the following statement about the new addition: “2020 was a challenging year for everyone but we also saw it as an opportunity to leverage the know-how of MELS’ teams to implement innovative turnkey projects that deliver the best possible service for our customers. To design and develop our virtual stage, we partnered with the leaders in their respective fields. Their contributions coupled with our production savvy enable us to offer a quality product that meets the expectations of our local and international customers.”
Epic Games’ Business Solution Architect David Hurtubise adds, “Virtual production driven by Unreal Engine’s real-time technology enables creators to deliver cutting edge content, interactive experiences, and immersive virtual worlds with fewer constraints than ever before. Producers of film and television are harnessing Unreal’s real-time workflows to enhance the creative freedom that comes from being able to interact with virtual worlds, just as they would the physical world, and we’re very happy to see MELS introducing these cutting-edge capabilities to the Montreal market.”
Solotech’s Richard Lafortune spoke about the technology that plays a part in MELS’ virtual stage: “The high-res Absen M2.9mm LED screens make it possible to replace green screens and design a virtual set in real time, while allowing greater creative freedom. The virtual stage can be used in the movie, television and video game industries, in the music industry to produce music videos, and even in the entertainment industry to record performances. It addresses the needs of many customers and industry partners, while supporting compliance with current physical distancing rules.”
Peter Crithary, VP of Marketing and Market Development at ARRI, Inc, also talked about their technology available on the stage. “In-camera effects, with real time rendering on LED video walls are cutting-edge technologies. ARRI’s contributions include remote heads, ALEXA cameras, wireless communications tools, and Signature Primes. ARRI offers filmmakers a powerful set of tools to address today’s challenging work environments. We are honored to be involvedwith MELS in this initiative. ARRI worked closely with MELS to develop training programs, procedures, and workflow to ensure safe and efficient operation on-set while maintaining the industry-leading cinematic quality ARRI is known for.”
You can watch a video of the stage being built and learn more about production design in the age of virtual production in our interview with James Pearse Connelly.
You can learn more about MELS services at Mels-Studios.com