Tell us about LEDunit’s background?
Our mother company [Forma Pro Films] has been producing films for more than 20 years starting out as fixers for producers then producing and financing its own content. We realised that the new technology was able to reduce the production cost and help us to keep shooting during the pandemic when covid protocols would not allow us to go on location.”
We talked with partners in the US to build the facility. They have experience and were involved in The Mandalorian stage. We used their guidelines to build the stage in Riga. We opened a 16,000-square-foot site in September 2021.
What makes your facility unique?
Unlike other virtual production studio owners we are producers first. Our background was physical production and this means that when we move into virtual production we solve problems from a producer’s perspective.
For instance, the ceiling of our LED stage has special holes to quickly extract smoke when you use smoke effects on set. Since our background is in production not VFX our stage for perfectly suits producer’s needs. Some other VP stages have problems with aircon or when you’re surrounded with walls then recording dialogue can be an issue. Our design addresses these problems.”
Our goal is to build the perfect stage for any type of feature, TV production or commercial. Our goal is to make VP available to any kind of production not just big budget but also mid or small budget TV series. We want to make the technology affordable.
We provide an all-in-one solution – the stage with all the kit. We have on set creative team and in addition to providing content inhouse we work with partners in Belarus and Ukraine to produce 3D assets. With other studios you may need to deal with multiple different companies but with LEDunit you have one stage, one content, one crew all pulling in your direction.
What has been shot on the stage?
In November we serviced a pilot for Disney which was set in Moscow. We’ve hosted several commercials. In March we have two movies back to back shooting here and are in discussion with producers about a TV series.
How will VP develop in the future?
With carbon neutrality and the soaring cost of energy now major production considerations, VP is the future of the industry not just because it's cost-effective, but because this technology is sustainable.
We commissioned independent research to compare the cost of shooting a scene in a real set and one replicated in our studio environment. With no fuel needed to get trucks and crew to location, no waste from construction, shooting in an LED volume was found to be eight times more sustainable.
Technology advances particularly in the power of computer processing will spell an end to classical CGI within the decade. You will be able to create 3D VFX using games engines on set and significantly more cost effectively than current VFX postproduction workflows.
The cost of using VP stages will become more affordable opening up the creation of fantasy worlds to lower budgets. Ten to fifteen years from now productions will use assets from gaming technology to create movies and games at the same time. There will be a single virtual production pipe to create products for cinema, games and to populate the metaverse (3D internet) at the same time.”
LEDunit studio in Latvia