These are the formative years of virtual production, full of challenges and discoveries. Here, executives of five prominent firms with LED stages – DARK BAY, MELS Studios, Virtual Production Studios (80six), Studio Lab and Pixomondo – discuss the arc of their growth and some of their latest developments and innovations.
The genesis of the DARK BAY LED stage in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany, was driven by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, the creators of Netflix’s Dark, who were working on ideas for their next series. 1899 was originally imagined as a pan-European show with vast backlot builds and locations spread over four countries in Europe. Then came the pandemic. Odar and Friese came up with the idea to shoot 1899 in a LED volume, which seemed the best solution to realize their vision while keeping the cast and crew safe. In addition, building their own stage made sense considering the scale of the series, according to DARK BAY Managing Director Philipp Klausing. Thus came about the DARK BAY Virtual Production Stage, owned in a majority share by Odar and Friese’s production company Dark Ways and in a minority share by Studio Babelsberg. DARK BAY was financially supported by funding from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Energy of the State of Brandenburg (MWAE) and backed up by a long-term booking commitment from Netflix. The facility, with an LED wall 180 feet long and 23 feet high and an active shooting area of 4,843 square feet, is located on the lot of Studio Babelsberg and came online in May 2021.
ARRI was involved in the DARK BAY planning and installation, and offered its know-how throughout the setup. The ARRI Solutions Group specializes in setting up mixed reality studios around the globe and was a crucial support, according to Klausing, who says, “ARRI was a big help in finding the look of the project. One of the biggest supports we received was the customization work on the ARRI anamorphic lenses.” Click to continue