A purpose-built film and television production studio with state-of-the-art LED stage technology will be built in the Big Bend industrial district of South Burnaby.
And it will be the second studio of its kind in Metro Vancouver.
Versatile Media has announced that it will open a 43,000 square foot studio purpose-built to serve Metro Vancouver’s burgeoning film and television production industry. There will be multiple sound stages, including the traditional stage and the LED stage.
The company’s facility is being built by Beedie at the developer’s large industrial business park in the area. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, with operational readiness for first productions scheduled for early 2023.
The LED sound stage will feature a 270-degree cylindrical sound stage display of 12,000 LED video wall panels, covering approximately 27.5 meters (90 feet) in diameter with a connected flat ceiling at nine meters (30 feet).
This technology is very similar to Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic StageCraft LED virtual production system, which is also opening a separate facility in Metro Vancouver this spring. The Mandalorian on Disney+ is known for using StageCraft LED extensively for its productions.
Versatile Media and ILM technologies use large, bright LED screen walls to provide a virtual live background for scenes during filming, replacing much of the need for green screens and associated post-production work.
With powerful computers, a photorealistic three-dimensional background scene is generated, and the perspective of the scene follows the movements of the camera.
The large format use of these LED screens also significantly reduces production costs, improves efficiency, reduces time by speeding up the shooting process, and even provides realistic lighting that can be easily adjusted as needed.
Green screens, on the other hand, are static and offer little flexibility, with changes in lighting and camera positioning requiring time-consuming work. Additionally, the lighting bouncing off the screens gives off green highlights, necessitating a color change in post-production.
The LED system’s live background also has the added benefit of helping actors get into character, which can be difficult with green screens.
Versatile’s system features Epic’s Unreal Engine and is powered by NVIDIA GPU technology. The company says it has developed its full-cycle virtual production pipeline service over the past five years.
Other facilities at Versatile’s South Burnaby studio will include paint and sawmill spaces, dedicated costume areas, general offices and vehicle parking to accommodate a full production.
“Filmmakers are embracing virtual production to better serve the creative process. We want to empower filmmakers and push the boundaries of what’s possible with our technology,” said Steve Read, vice president and head of studio for the Canada division of Versatile Media.
“Our ultimate goal is to accelerate and nurture great storytelling and enable film production to catch up with the huge cast changes demanded by its appetite for global content.”
Last year, Versatile opened its North American headquarters at 1910 Pandora Street in East Vancouver, where it offers services such as performance capture and stage viewing.
Founded in 1993, Versatile Media is based in Hangzhou, China, where it is building a 12-acre film production campus that will include facilities such as five LED stages. The company already has two LED stages at its existing global headquarters.