A booming video production company is gearing up to bring a bit of Hollywood to Las Vegas.
Vū Technologies is investing more than $7 million in its newest and largest studio at 901 Grier St., just south of Harry Reid International Airport, with an expected opening date of April 22. The company plans to use its 43,000 square foot Las Vegas facility and high-tech virtual video production equipment to host live presentations, further develop local workforce and cinematic commercials, episodic content and long video.
Vū intends to set up shop in Las Vegas, the company’s first studio west of the Mississippi River. And with Vū’s arrival comes hope that the company can help start a permanent film industry home in southern Nevada.
While Southern Nevada and the Strip, in particular, are popular locations for filming TV shows and movies, there are few film industry companies that call Nevada home, according to Greg Bortolin, door-to-door. word of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which houses the Nevada Film Office.
Jason Soto, Vū’s vice president and general manager of the Las Vegas campus, said he’s excited to help further diversify Nevada’s economy.
“We really intend to be that hub to bring other big movie-related businesses here,” Las Vegas resident Soto said during a tour of the facility on Tuesday.
Among the companies Vū hopes to attract, Soto said, are robotics companies that work in film, lighting companies looking to manufacture or distribute in Las Vegas, or artificial intelligence and machine learning companies such as than the ones Vū is working with to upgrade its LED screens for camera tracking.
Vū announced Tuesday that it has received $17 million in seed funding to expand beyond its three facilities in Tampa, Florida, Nashville, Tennessee and now Las Vegas. Expansion goals for this year include Orlando, Florida, Connecticut and New York, Soto said.
The company wants to create what it calls the largest network of virtual studios in the world. Her clients include Apple, Amazon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Disney, WWE, Twenty One Pilots, Jack Daniel’s and Mercedes-Benz.
“Thanks to our investors and technology partners, we believe Vū’s network will forever change the cinematic landscape, providing unlimited opportunities for creatives,” co-founder and CEO Tim Moore said in a recent statement.
Each studio uses expansive LED screens, augmented and mixed reality technology to create real-time virtual backdrops for filming. The Las Vegas studio will have three stages: a flat LED wall 55 feet wide and 22 feet high, a J-shaped LED stage measuring nearly 20 feet high and 140 feet wide, and a video wall in half-dome 30 feet wide, 19 feet high and 15 feet deep. The half-dome will feature exclusive transparent LED ceiling panels to facilitate better sound and lighting.
“We love the value proposition of Vegas – not just because I’m a native, but because it’s obvious, isn’t it?” Soto said. So, for example, “while we have the Billboard Music Awards, I can bring in Pitbull — because he’s already in town — to do a commercial shoot or a music video.”
Logistically, he said, it’s much easier to shoot footage on the Strip at 5:30 p.m. on a busy October night and recreate the scene in a studio with a virtual backdrop and physical props than filming a scene on location and taking into account the multiple variables that could interfere with filming.
“It’s one of the most visited places on the planet,” and one that’s constantly changing, Soto said. Virtual production can capture a Vegas moment in time and save it in perpetuity, long after it’s been remodeled, renovated or removed.
The company received tax incentives for committing $5.2 million in capital investments and is expected to generate $2.3 million in tax revenue for the state over the next 10 years, said Bortolin, the gatekeeper. word of the GOED.
He said GOED has discussed with several film companies over the years the possibility of expanding their operations in the state, although nondisclosure agreements prevent the state from identifying those companies.
Las Vegas is an attractive proposition for film companies because of its proximity to Hollywood and its status as an iconic destination, Bortolin said. He said it was exciting that Vū wanted to work in Las Vegas and that he had progressed as a company.
“Who knows? Maybe it will lead to more activity and more companies coming here,” Bortolin said.
Vū agreed to a workforce development program to receive the tax incentives, Soto said. The company is set to partner with UNLV’s College of Fine Arts and the college’s film school “in the very near future” on a program that will teach virtual production technology and offer a curriculum learning with society. The development program can influence a student’s decision to migrate to Southern California or build worlds in video games to create movie scenes.
“Let’s teach our kids here in Las Vegas and let them stay here or if they decide to go overseas…their education was done here at UNLV,” Soto said.
The company was born out of the pandemic when on-location filming was halted across the country, Soto said. Moore owned a video production company called Diamond View, and when filming closed, he turned to virtual production technology.
Soto said the high-tech virtual production panels needed to create LED walls were previously limited to major production studios like Lucasfilm, Disney and HBO. Vū executives brokered a deal with Chinese factories to build their own LED panels, he said.
The network of studios allows directors, producers and actors from different cities to film the same scene at the same time without using green screen.
Soto added that virtual studios can reduce post-production costs and time by 70%. The company films or scans scenes and uploads them to a database. Staff can then use Epic Games’ Unreal Engine video game engine program to synthesize these sequences into an interactive real-time virtual background.