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Blog: Universal Studios unveils virtual stage

By Barry Goch
December 6, 2010
Blog: Universal Studios unveils virtual stage UNIVERSAL CITY, CA — Last week, Universal Studios introduced its new virtual filmmaking stage, Universal Virtual Stage 1. Located on the Universal’s backlot, Stage 36 has been transformed into a state-of-the-art digital production studio. It’s a turnkey digital production space that features a 40x80-foot greenscreen cyc with embedded motion capture sensors and ceiling mounted camera tracking markers. In addition to the stage, the facility also features a conference room with CineSync and RV software for global collaboration and six artist workstations featuring Autodesk’s Maya and Motionbuilder attached to 60TB of storage. Each room features a live feed from the nearby stage.

The Virtual Stage’s highlight is the realtime interactivity it allows directors. It works like this: You load a low-poly model into the software or use pre-built models such as Universal’s own revamped New York Street backlot location. The real camera is then synced to the virtual camera in the 3D scene. Next, bring in the talent and go. They’ve married tons of complex technology — camera tracking, motion capture, and realtime keying — into a turnkey solution for filmmakers.

The stage is pre-rigged to work with a Red One digital camera and lenses. For the demonstration, the camera was mounted on a calibrated 24-foot Technojib camera crane. Other cameras and lenses may be used, and the stage can be configured to work with multiple cameras as well.

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