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Mels Studios Launches Virtual Production Stage in Montreal

New facility, built in collaboration with Solotech, is powered by Unreal Engine, and will provide state-of-the-art resources for real-time, in-camera visual effects production.

Montreal-based Mels Studios has launched a new virtual stage with an LED wall; the facility was built in collaboration with Solotech and powered by Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. The new service will support customers, of all sizes, in realizing their projects by combining the studio’s expertise with the latest virtual production technologies. The importance of virtual stages is growing as they allow productions to work with smaller crews, facilitating physical distancing, and reducing the size and scope of shoots, sets and crowd scenes.

Using powerful new technology, Solotech will supply the LED screens providing broad flexibility in adapting sets to individual customer requirements. Unreal Engine will play a key role by linking all technological resources, providing real-time in-camera visual effects to create the virtual stage. ARRI, a global company in the motion picture media industry, is a consultant on this major project.

“2020 was a challenging year for everyone but we also saw it as an opportunity to leverage the know-how of Mels’ teams to implement innovative turnkey projects that deliver the best possible service for our customers,” commented Mels president Martin Carrier. “To design and develop our virtual stage, we partnered with the leaders in their respective fields. Their contributions coupled with our production savvy enable us to offer a quality product that meets the expectations of our local and international customers.”

Completed in six weeks with support from the Unreal Engine team, the virtual stage is an integrated production platform that offers a complete virtual production solution. All services including visual effects; cameras; lighting; post-production; and technical crews are linked by fiber optics to all the sets. This turnkey model allows producers and filmmakers greater agility, efficiency, and creative latitude.

“Virtual production driven by Unreal Engine’s real-time technology enables creators to deliver cutting edge content, interactive experiences, and immersive virtual worlds with fewer constraints than ever before,” explained David Hurtubise, Business Solution Architect at Epic Games. “Producers of film and television are harnessing Unreal’s real-time workflows to enhance the creative freedom that comes from being able to interact with virtual worlds,  just as they would the physical world, and we’re very happy to see MELS introducing these cutting-edge capabilities to the Montreal market.”

“The high-res Absen M2.9mm LED screens make it possible to replace green screens and design a virtual set in real-time, while allowing greater creative freedom,” added Richard Lafortune, Senior VP of Sales, Live Productions Division at Solotech. “The virtual stage can be used in the movie, television and video game industries, in the music industry to produce music videos, and even in the entertainment industry to record performances. It addresses the needs of many customers and industry partners, while supporting compliance with current physical distancing rules.”

“In-camera effects, with real-time rendering on LED video walls are cutting-edge technologies,” noted Peter Crithary, VP of Marketing and Market Development for ARRI, Inc. “ARRI’s contributions include remote heads, ALEXA cameras, wireless communications tools, and Signature Primes. ARRI offers filmmakers a powerful set of tools to address today’s challenging work environments. We are honored to be involved with MELS in this initiative. ARRI worked closely with MELS to develop training programs, procedures, and workflow to ensure safe and efficient operation on-set while maintaining the industry-leading cinematic quality ARRI is known for.”

Source: Mels Studios

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