MONTREAL — MELS (mels-studios.com) recently launched a new virtual production stage featuring an LED wall. Built in collaboration with Solotech and powered by Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, the new service will help the studio support customers of all sizes in realizing their creative needs.
Solotech supplied the LED screens used in the installation and Unreal Engine plays a key role in the project by linking all technological resources and providing realtime in-camera visual effects. Arri, known for its motion picture cameras, also consulted on the project.
“2020 was a challenging year for everyone, but we also saw it as an opportunity to leverage the know-how of MELS’s teams to implement innovative turnkey projects that deliver the best possible service for our customers,” explains MELS president, Martin Carrier. “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.”
The installation was completed in six weeks with support from the Unreal Engine team. All services – visual effects, cameras, lighting, post production and technical crews – are linked by fibre optics to all the sets.
“Virtual production, driven by Unreal Engine’s realtime technology, enables creators to deliver cutting edge content, interactive experiences, and immersive virtual worlds with fewer constraints than ever before,” notes David Hurtubise, business solution architect at Epic Games. “Producers of film and television are harnessing Unreal’s realtime 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.”
“The high-res Absen M2.9mm LED screens make it possible to replace green screens and design a virtual set in realtime, while allowing greater creative freedom,” explains Richard Lafortune, senior vice president of sales, live productions division at Solotech. “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.”
“In-camera effects, with realtime rendering on LED video walls are cutting-edge technologies,” adds Peter Crithary, VP of marketing and market development for Arri, Inc. “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 involved with 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.”
The virtual stage allow productions to work with smaller crews, facilitating physical distancing, and reducing the size and scope of shoots, sets and crowd scenes.