As Brompton Technology celebrates its first decade in business, it’s astonishing to reflect on how much the LED industry has evolved and expanded in that time.
Brompton was formed as a spin-off from Carallon – a product development company created by a team of engineers with a long heritage in the entertainment industry and specialising in intuitive control systems. We saw that the rental LED space was at a turning point, with an inevitable move away from big-brand western LED manufacturers towards Chinese-manufactured LED panels that were achieving acceptable quality at a much lower price point. The one area they fell short was meeting the processing demands for live entertainment – existing solutions were not sufficiently reliable and far too slow to set up. With Brompton we set out to fill that gap by developing LED processing that was reliable, easy to use and high quality, but capable of integrating with panels from any manufacturer. This model has been hard work, but extremely successful – as it has allowed rental companies to select their preferred panel from everything on the market and know that they can get it with their preferred Brompton processing.
From the very beginning we were focused on meeting the needs of the top end of the industry and because so many major events were televised, we always cared about making LED panels perform well both to the eye and on-camera. One of our first projects was the 2013 Academy Awards broadcast, so we didn’t start small!
Image courtesy of 80six
Fast forward to 2018, and increasingly the film and television industry was experimenting with using LED screens in place of green screen. They needed LED processing that delivered good image quality on-camera, and Brompton was a ready-made solution. Our LED processors were there on pioneering projects such as Season 1 of Disney’s The Mandalorian, and adoption has skyrocketed ever since as virtual production techniques have simply exploded in popularity.
Fortunately, many of the things that are important to filmmakers using LED on-camera are areas where Brompton has been pushing the boundaries for some time. In 2019 we launched our unique Dynamic Calibration technology, which ensures colour accuracy and maximises the colour gamut and dynamic range available from any given panel. This required the development of our own calibration system called Hydra, which was a two-year project in itself, and gives our users the starting point of a really strong colour pipeline onto which we add a range of colour correction tools, including the ability to import your own 3D LUT in industry-standard formats.
We have also always had very tight control of the refresh timing of the individual LEDs, which is vital when trying to avoid artefacts on-camera. This allows us to support high frame rates and deliver patented features such as ShutterSync, an industry-first innovation that allows the cinematographer to adjust the LED refresh to match their preferred camera configuration, rather than being forced to match the camera to the LED. Now it is even possible to do multi-camera virtual production shoots with each camera seeing different content on one LED screen, thanks to Frame Remapping, another industry-first feature.
We want customers to know that buying Brompton processing is a way to ensure a good return on their investment. Most of these new features have been delivered as free software updates, meaning that existing LED panels containing Brompton receiver cards actually gain more performance over time. We are quite proud that many of the leading virtual production volumes are using product that is over five years old and was not designed with virtual production in mind, but thanks to these software updates, it is still setting the gold standard for the industry. We back up our products with a very dedicated technical support team, who are always there to help answer questions and troubleshoot problems.
Image courtesy of Mushang Studios
Today, Brompton’s core business is nicely split across both live events and virtual production. Ten years ago we never could have anticipated the growth in the virtual production space and the innovation coming from all parts of the creative workflow. We are glad to be part of this sector and to deliver our own advancements that can support the amazing creativity of filmmakers and cinematographers.
As we look to the future, we see many continued opportunities for growth on the horizon, as touring makes a comeback after many pandemic delays, and as the use of LED within virtual production continues to mature. From humble beginnings in West London, we’ve recently moved into a larger office space, and we’ve also opened offices in Los Angeles, Shenzhen and Taipei. Most notably, we recently received a £5.1 million investment from Connection Capital, which will help us to scale up our continued R&D efforts across both markets so that we can keep delivering the new features and functionality that our users value.
Richard Mead is the CEO of Brompton Technology (www.bromptontech.com), a West London-based developer of LED video processing technology that is used for live events, film and television. Its Tessera system has been used on global world tours, pioneering virtual production and in XR studios.