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Mels Studios and Postproduction in Montreal has expanded its virtual stage with an LED wall to meet growing interest in virtual production.
The 10,000 square foot studio stage has been upgraded to a diameter of 65 feet to allow a larger and bigger workable canvas on which to do visual effects work in real time on set. Construction on the expanded virtual stage wrapped in mid-January and required “several millions in investments in equipment and the permanent team,” the Montreal-based subsidiary of the TVA Group told The Hollywood Reporter.
The concave wall for the new stage is also now 20 feet high, with two 10×10 side panels, and the ceiling, with two 20×20 modules, is fully motorized and computerized to fully control lighting and reflections. The initial Mels virtual stage opened in 2020 had a 35 foot x 16 foot video wall consisting of LED backdrop screens.
Virtual stages, which are seen as the next frontier in film and TV production in replacing green screens, allow productions to use smaller crews for greater physical distancing and reduce the size and scope of shoots, film sets and crowd scenes.
Richard Cormier, vp of virtual production at Mels, added: “This last iteration is permanent, and the largest one that we have put together to date, and after testing several manufacturers we have chosen ROE, Brompton and disguise as our foundation for technology. In addition, we have invested in a computerized ceiling allowing us to fully control lighting and reflections, in addition to have the ability to recall to the millimeter their positions.”
A host of local and foreign productions, including Paramount’s Transformers 7, Disappointment Blvd., Arlette!, Les Trois Accords, Five Roses, Survival and Via Mare, used Mels’ virtual production stage in 2021 before construction on the recent upgrade.
Virtual production stages have grown in popularity during the pandemic and offer the potential to reduce travel and the flexibility of seamlessly creating exotic locales — even imaginary ones — within the confines of a soundstage. Mels’ virtual stage is attached to a campus of six soundstages with over 100 000 square feet of studio space near to downtown Montreal.
Elsewhere in Canada, visual effects company Pixomondo and Canadian TV and film equipment rental business Willam F. White International struck a partnership to offer LED volumes for virtual production in Toronto and Vancouver. They also plan to build more sites in the U.S. and UK markets.
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