Twenty-third century spacefarers in Star Trek frequently find themselves ferrying through transporter beams to travel virtually anywhere within a few thousand kilometres.
In the 21st century, virtual film sets are now beaming into B.C. studios coated in LED screens to create the illusion of strange new worlds materializing around actors and physical sets. It’s an endeavour aimed at generating fantastical environments that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive or practically impossible to render for local film productions.
“We’re not replacing anything. We’re sort of extending, enhancing [and] offering a new tool,” said Gladys Tong, virtual production supervisor for the new 7,00o-square-foot circular “volume” stage at the Canadian Motion Picture Park in south Burnaby.
“Because in our foreground shots or our final frames, we want to see real people in live action, we want to see real sets … There’s only so much of the real world that you want to replace digitally.”
William F. White International Inc. (WFW) opened its first Volume stage in Metro Vancouver just under a year ago in partnership with L.A.-based visual effects house Pixomondo (PXO), which creates the digital environments.
This local Volume stage, the largest in the world, is covered in LED screens spanning 24 metres in width and 7.5 metres in height, encircling actors and physical sets to provide lifelike, digital environments such as alien planets, fantasy worlds and spaceships.
For the past eight months the Volume stage has been supporting the production of Netflix Inc.’s (Nasdaq:NFLX) upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action TV series, set in a fantasy world known as Asiatic.
Sci-fi fans may have already witnessed the Volume at work in shows shot in Toronto and L.A., such as Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Discovery and The Mandalorian. For those series, actors and physical sets sit in the foreground of shots that are complemented by the LED Volume’s highly detailed digital renderings of far-off planets or spaceship interiors that sit in the background of those shots. Continue reading