New Virtual Studio at Universal


By Frank Barron

The Virtual Stage at Universal Studios.

There’s something new at Sound Stage 36 at Universal Studios. The stage has been transformed into the new technologically advanced Universal Virtual Stage 1 (UVS1). And the announcement has been welcomed by the production community that wants to keep jobs in town.

To keep pace with all the innovations in the business, UVS1 has been created to help productions with the versatility needed for today’s high-tech projects.

“With UVS1, we have created a flexible production space that bridges both real and virtual, pre and post production,” announced Dave Beanes, senior vice president, Universal Studios Production Services. “Productions will be able to use digital assets created in pre-viz on UVS1 to compose shots which allows the post-production team to see exact framing.” That’s a big deal for the production budget when time is money.

Previously, productions that wanted to use this technology paid for weeks of set-up. With UVS1’s new integrated system, clients can walk onto the stage and begin shooting. And a director on stage can visually communicate with effects artists next door to prepare and perfect CG assets for use on stage. Then the director can consult with editors on how the just completed shots are cut into a scene. There’s unprecedented control for creativity.

Universal began planning this project about two years ago. While rebuilding the New York Street backlot location, Beanes and Jeff Berry, executive director of Universal Studios Virtual Effects and Production Services, began thinking of the Universal backlot in digital terms, with the continuing trend of elaborate special effects in visual entertainment.

What makes the new facility so special? UVS1 has a dedicated pre-rigged, pre-calibrated virtual production environment with motion capture, camera tracking and related technologies for commercials, television and features.

This project transformed the 6,800 square foot Sound Stage 36 at Universal Studios into a self-contained facility with a 40 ft. by 80 ft. green screen, a suite of editing bays and production office space with a conference room. The stage is a versatile addition to the Studios’ production and post-production services for both internal and third party productions.

The investment in UVS1 shows Universal’s continuing support of the Los Angeles production community.

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