Developing the Concept
Magicbox is a motion picture technology company whose primary offering is a mobile LED volume studio. According to Brian Nowac, Magicbox’s founder and chief executive officer, the concept grew out of both creative passion and practical necessity. Built inside a custom trailer rig, Magicbox can drive a 17’x17’x9’ LED volume anywhere in the United States and offer state-of-the-art in-camera VFX wherever needed.
“I’ve owned creative agencies, video production companies, software agencies, and animation shops for 20 years here in the Bay Area,” Nowac says. “During the pandemic, I ran a very successful creative and design agency, but I had a lot of downtime and watched The Mandalorian on Disney Plus. I also watched the behind-the-scenes and saw how they used an LED volume, camera tracking, and Unreal Engine. I thought, ‘wow, I know these technologies well, and this is what I want to do.’”
Nowac immediately began to study the underlying technologies and connect with several professionals already doing virtual production. He learned that finding a suitable and cost-effective location in the Bay Area for a volume would be a significant challenge. “I found a giant building in Alameda for about $60,000/month,” recalls Nowac. “Then, I discovered that the electrical infrastructure upgrade necessary to power a large volume would cost $800,000 and an 18-month wait from the power company.”
Realizing that the costs and complexity of building a fixed stage would prohibit his plan, Nowac started looking at the problem creatively. “I thought about all of the startup clients I’d worked with and the different ways they’d innovated to stay ahead of their competition,” he says. “Two attributes that stuck with me were miniaturization and mobility. If I miniaturized the volume, it’d be cheaper to build, and if I mobilized it, I wouldn’t need a building anymore. So with that in mind, I started sketching out the designs for what would end up being a truck.” Continue reading