9:30am PT by Carolyn Giardina
Bron Launches Virtual Production Company
With the growing interest surrounding virtual production techniques — made all the more notable amid COVID-19 — Bron Media Corp. announced the launch of Bron Digital, a virtual production and service company that will develop and produce animation for series television, shortform content and motion pictures.
With live-action film and television productions on hold and the company’s co-financed upcoming theatrical releases Candyman, The Green Knight, Fatherhood, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Respect pushed back, Bron said it worked with production finance partner Creative Wealth Media to shift gears. It also took a $1 million to $2 million Paycheck Protection Program loan to help retain jobs amid the pandemic.
“We needed to shift," said Aaron L. Gilbert, CEO of Bron, whose recent work in animation includes Netflix's The Willoughbys and 2019's The Addams Family. "The company directed much of its creative and production teams toward the creation and now launch of this new division. Animation has been the only area of Bron capable of being in production during this pandemic as our production team is set up remotely."
The company revealed that it's currently in its eighth week of production on an animated series titled Fables, directed by Azazel Jacobs, which is described as a series of centuries-old stories teaching timeless lessons, now retold with a modern twist for young audiences. Supported by production financing partners at Creative Wealth Media, three additional original animated series and productions are scheduled to begin this summer.
For Fables, Academy Award nominee Ra Vincent (Jojo Rabbit) is production designer, and Sebastian Brodin (The Willoughbys) is director of photography. The series is created by Kevin Turen and written by Kyra Noonan. Executive producers are Turen, Chen, Ashley Levinson, Aaron L. Gilbert and Brenda Gilbert for Bron. Jason Cloth, of Creative Wealth Media, is associate producer.
Leading the new Bron division as head of digital is VFX vet Jason Chen, whose VFX supervisor credits include JoJo Rabbit and Those Who Wish Me Dead.
Technically, the company developed its virtual production pipeline in collaboration with Epic Games using Epic's real-time gaming engine, Unreal, which was separately used to make Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian. Chen relates that this "allows Bron's productions to be untethered from traditional physical studio spaces. It allows for our geographically distributed creative teams to collaborate within a purely virtual multi-user experience."
A short demo of how Unreal Engine works is below.