Exclusive: 80six co-founder says LED Volume is leading the way for VP

Dan Hamill tells KFTV about 80six's studio expansion plans and important shift to LED-based technology

By Priyanca Rajput 13 May 2022

Exclusive: 80six co-founder says LED Volume is leading the way for VP
80six virtual production demo, MPTS 2022

At this year’s Media Production and Technology Show (11-12 May), the team at technology rental company 80six announced the re-opening of their virtual production studio in Slough, following a planned expansion.

What started in March 2021 as a ‘pop-up’ LED Volume at the front of their technology warehouse, evolved into a purpose-built VP studio at a permanent location in Slough, doubling its current footprint.  

The brand-new 11,743 sq. ft virtual production facility features bespoke LED Volumes and the latest real-time technologies (camera tracking, game engines, media servers) for delivering in-camera VFX (ICVFX) or xR  (extended reality).  

Speaking exclusively to KFTV, Dan Hamill, co-founder & commercial director at 80six, says: “The great thing about what we’re doing is we build everything to spec — we’ve got our own space now where we customise all of the builds. We look at the productions, budgets and what [clients] are trying to achieve. We build to budget rather than having a fixed permanent stage and that’s kind of our USP, and because 80six is next door [to Virtual Production Studios] it’s easy to push all the gear in and build everything.

This allows for a more a cost-effective and sustainable approach to LED virtual production by saving money and power. Our aim is to make virtual production more accessible to varying production budgets – and by now, we know, that you do not need a Mandalorian-sized LED Volume to shoot in-camera visual effects, he adds.

Speaking about some of their own project highlights, Aura Popa, marketing manager at 80six, notes the ‘100% Shutterstock’ commercial shot at Virtual Production Studios by 80six in 2021 — which was the winner of Best Use of Virtual Production at Ideas Awards 2022.

“It’s definitely made an impact in the advertising world and what was unique about 100% Shutterstock is that everything we created in this virtual world is made with Shutterstock content. So to have the ability to create from zero to everything in Unreal Engine is quite amazing,” Aura said.

When asked how 80six’s innovations compare to previous VP projects from Blade Runner to Ready Player One for instance, Dan said they were “based on” VR.

He explained: “Everyone’s using VP left, right and centre now and VP has been around for a long time, it’s just the way that we’re doing it now has slightly changed and VP is all to do with camera tracking and real-time content.

“It’s been done with green screen for quite some time but the difference in what we’re doing is we’re using LED screens and that is the new way of doing it.

Dan added that as time and technology evolve, key players are investing more in the development of new applications - as industry figures recognise the need for advancements in VP, with LED leading the way. 

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