New addition to The Studio Map – MARS Volume

Pocket Films is pleased to present MARS Volume as the latest addition to The Studio Map. Opened in August 2021, Bild Studios, the creators of MARS Volume, describe the new film studio as “London’s Premier Virtual Production Facility dedicated to technical precision, run by experienced workflow specialists”.

Here are founders David Bajt and Rowan Pitts describing their venture in an article published by AV Interactive titled Exploring virtual production technology’s full potential:

What do the latest virtual production technologies and facilities offer the UK TV industry? David Bajt and Rowan Pitts, cofounders of Bild Studios and MARS Volume, explain.

“At Bild Studios we are interested in the possibilities of stepping outside of the conventional ‘canvas’ of traditional props and physical set design. With the use of virtual production techniques, where virtual and physical set designs meet, we have the ability to step outside an established production design process and inside an environment where the laws of physics and real-world practicalities don’t necessarily have to apply.

A simple yet good example of this is our recent Le Col x McLaren production. Here we created a real-time environment inside Unreal Engine and mapped the scene onto LED screens, rendered to the tracked camera’s constantly moving perspective. As a result, a highly controlled visual environment could be created where the talent appears to cycle in an infinitely long light tunnel – a feat simply not possible in the real world.

With the LED screens providing the in-camera visuals as well as the natural lighting and reflections onto the cyclist, the end result is a great example where the need for any compositing in post-production, usually required in a green screen pipeline, was completely eliminated.

With the use of real-time VFX, rather than pre-rendered video plates (which still is highly applicable in virtual production) we can dial in and adjust the parameters defining the environment and make it look exactly as we want it to be. We can even give those controls to the director who can adjust the scene on set, in real-time.

In essence, the freedom and flexibility given by a virtual production environment is huge. To us, that level of extreme control and creative freedom not possible in the real world are the key qualities that virtual production offers TV producers and filmmakers.

Virtual production also changes the methodology of HETV production and filmmaking. Traditional film production is usually a very established linear process including stages of pre-production, the physical shoot period and finally post-production.

However, during post-production it may become clear that some scenes need reshooting due to creative or technical issues – and that’s a very expensive process to revert to. In fact, 20 per cent of a typical film budget is actually spent on reshoots! As the virtual production pipeline essentially turns your pre-vis environment into the final frame on set, VP enables filmmaking to be a far more agile and iterative process than the traditional linear pipeline. The scene can be updated up to the very last minute before shooting – giving the creative decision-makers full control of the final pixels seen in camera.

In the case where a real-time scene isn’t completely ready for shooting on the day or if the director still wants flexibility to change the VFX background in post, using a traditional green screen pipeline, we can output a green plate tracked to the camera’s frustum – essentially turning the LED into a perfectly balanced green screen. At the same time, we can map a “proxy” 3D scene outside the green camera frustum that provides the environmental lighting for the talent and physical props on stage. With that solution, we’re combining a traditional post-production approach with the benefit of the lighting provided from the LED. In essence, combining the best of both worlds.

What is MARS Volume offering that’s new?
MARS, backed up by the specialist know-how of Bild Studios, forms a unique combination of technical, creative and production skills – in combination with a VP facility.

This fusion of both services and facility is a truly powerful and unique offering to the industry as it provides an agile and water-tight integration between all parties involved in a complex VP project. With MARS, we have all those capabilities in-house; the visual engineering, the content and real-time VFX creation, but are also offering the hardware and physical facility. Keeping those services in-house provides a turnkey solution and also enables a cost-effective pricing model.

Our current involvement in some of the most high-profile VP projects in the world, using workflows honed to Hollywood-level delivery, is now seeing us distil these high-end workflows and make them accessible to both HETV and the lower budget side of the industry. In real terms, we intend to deliver the latest groundbreaking VP innovations to a wider range of clients and continue to inspire our clients to see that VP is a great option for their production.”

Read the full article on here

Link to the full promotion on The Studio Map here.

Link to the MARS Volume website here.

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