So, what is virtual production?
Think of virtual production as the natural successor to the traditional green screen. Here's where innovations in virtual reality and LED displays converge to take immersive film production to an exciting new level.
Crews would have previously filmed against a green screen and spent a lengthy post-production period replacing the screen with new, fantastical environments. Those environments are now created ahead of shooting and are vividly displayed on the LED wall - casting realistic immersive light on the subject in a way that was impossible before.
We find ourselves at the point where film, games and visual effects converge.
Our newly designed studio houses a super-high resolution 6x4-metre HDR screen provided by our partners Samsung. This uses the latest, cutting-edge LED technology. Our screen content is powered by Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and Weta’s Unity. We’re an in-house team of creatives, directors, producers, film crew, animators, VFX artists and programmers. Our spectrum of in-house expertise and the scope of our services – with longstanding colleagues working next door to our double-height dedicated film studio – means we’re uniquely placed to deliver productions from concept to completion all on one site.
Why we work that way
We’re firm believers in working better together. We want our clients to be part of that, too.
Having our teams together, in-house, means we work together, sit together, eat together, train and learn together.
We develop a shorthand between disciplines and crews, developing ways of working that aren’t easy to achieve when assembling a team with members who’ve never met. And where we do need to enhance our expertise, we choose to upskill and future-proof our in-house team rather than forever outsource.
Why are we exploring virtual production?
We have a 180-year track record of restless exploration and innovation – of keeping ahead of technological progress in our industries. We started our film production journey nearly 20 years ago, with one person shooting on a handicam. We then recruited a team of producers, camera operators, editors, colourists, animators and visual effects (VFX) artists.
We built a small studio with a green screen to film weekly TV shows for Post Office and Royal Mail. In 2017, we moved into a new building with a double-height, 16-metre film studio containing a full, wrap around green screen. We’re now replacing that green screen with an LED wall ahead of our plan to build an entirely dedicated virtual production studio soon.
It’s just what we do!
A director's dream: ultimate control of the environment in real time
What we do...
We open windows to new and exciting virtual worlds. We conjure fantastical environments to explore. And we recreate locations that already exist but may be inaccessible or inhospitable.
With virtual production, we can keep the clouds just where we want them, shoot on a sand dune in the morning and re-locate to an iceberg in the afternoon. Our clients’ needs range from adverts for the big screen and live events to interviews and ad hoc social campaigns on mobile. We can accommodate every types and size of shoot using this technology. Its potential application is limited only by our imaginations. Or if your project involves an Airbus.
Green means go… Anywhere and nowhere.
Shooting on green screen allows the crew to gather in one real world location (the studio) and shoot multiple film ‘locations’ on the same stage on the same day. The locations are added in post-production. This has positive sustainability implications. You gather the entire crew in the same place every day, saving huge costs and avoiding the logistical challenges of shooting across multiple locations – with hotels and travel, etc.
In the studio, the locations come to you.
With virtual production this doesn’t change. You retain the sustainable benefits of studio shooting and enjoy the added advantage of capturing all your virtual locations in camera, with vastly improved lighting and more immersive integration between subject and environment.
This isn’t technology that’s built only for big budgets and the big screen...
Now, what's in it for you?
It's very, VERY shiny and will look great on your Instagram. More importantly, what you see on camera is what you see on screen – unless you’re embellishing it with additional layers of VFX. There’s no need to imagine what might replace that green screen because it’s captured in camera.
As the screen uses real-time technology, the virtual sets can still be tinkered with. We can move assets and props around to suit a shot, we can change lighting on the fly and even control the weather. You need ‘golden hour’ all day? No problem!
Sounds expensive, right?
Each production is different, so it’s almost impossible to provide even a ball-park figure on the cost of a virtual production. Maybe you’ve sourced quotes from other studios and convinced yourself it’s just too expensive.
We own our virtual studio and we’ve started small. So, why’s that a good thing? Well, it allows us to run lighter for smaller projects. We’re not creating Hollywood blockbusters quite yet. But we’re eager to work with current – and new – clients to create smaller scale productions with brilliant, immersive content. Because we can conjure epic adventures in iconic locations without the blockbuster budget.