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Weta, Streamliner and Avalon Studios Launch Virtual Production Business

New service, based in New Zealand, brings together LED live stage expertise and real-time game engine-based workflows to expand what can be done safely and creatively on set.

Weta Digital, Streamliner and Avalon Studios have launched a new LED-stage virtual production service, based in Wellington, New Zealand.  The service brings together live stage expertise and expert screen production capability to offer a new production methodology.  Recent growth in real-time visual effects capabilities, along with the health and safety benefits of working in New Zealand, prompted the three leading companies to put together a ready-to-use package for productions of all sizes.

The launch comes little more than a month after Weta announced their new original animated content business, Weta Animation; both new ventures appear part of the expansion effort made possible by last year’s investment from Napster co-founder, entrepreneur, and tech visionary, Sean Parker, who also joined the studio’s board as Vice Chairman.

With over 1,550 artists and engineers, Weta Digital has won six visual effects Academy Awards, ten Academy Sci-Tech Awards and six visual effects BAFTA Awards. The company is known for revolutionizing the VFX production pipeline for some of the biggest films of all time, including AvatarThe Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Avengers: Endgame. Their exemplary digital characters, including Thanos from Endgame and Caesar from the Planet of the Apes Trilogy, have become standards by which all similar work is judged. Over the past 25 years, Weta Digital has developed over 100 proprietary tool sets and groundbreaking AI technology.

“Adding LED stage capabilities to Wellington’s Avalon Studios adds yet another compelling reason for productions to consider shooting in New Zealand,” said Weta Digital Executive Producer David Conley.  “LED stages are the latest technique to take advantage of game engine technology to provide virtual production workflows that can greatly expand what is possible on set.  Being able to shoot final VFX imagery at the same time as principle photography adds another level of creative control for producers and filmmakers.”

The new workflow features large, easily configurable LED panels that are able to display imagery well beyond 8K as a way to augment practical sets and often replace greenscreen shots for backgrounds and exteriors. It also lends itself to easily combining footage from multiple stages, making it ideal for keeping crew sizes smaller.

“We’re all focused on providing the safest work environment possible as productions look to ramp back up,” said Gary Watkins, CEO, Avalon Studios.  “This new setup allows producers to think very strategically about what they shoot and limit the number of actors and onset crew required – changing postproduction requirements.  Avalon has 4 main stages of varying sizes and dedicated spaces to house additional departments, making it a perfect hub for local and international productions.”

Streamliner General Manager Richard Manu added, “Our crew combines decades of live event experience with an in-depth knowledge of high-end video systems and we’re well adept working on high profile, time critical projects. Although we were early adopters in LED screen technology, having that alone just isn’t enough. We have the established infrastructure to make this a plug and play pipeline rather than a science experiment. Our investment in several LED screen types; large format laser projection and world leading media server platforms will give productions confidence we have it all covered.”

The LED stage service is highly flexible and is built to scale for any size project.  The services are applicable as qualified spend for International and local screen funding schemes. Contact sales@wetafx.co.nz for more information.

Source: Weta Digital

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.

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