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ATL
Digi

Atlanta
Digital

 

ATL
Digi

Atlanta
Digital

 

By Tom Bingham

 

Ever since The Mandalorian streaming series used a curved DVLED display to create a virtual stage for a major Hollywood-level production, the technology has intrigued production companies and video professionals who recognize its enormous potential for large- and small-scale projects. Instead of using green screens or sending video crews to film expensive on-site productions, DVLED backgrounds can be used for In Camera Visual Effects (ICVE) by displaying life-sized high-definition video that enables realistic scenery for hosts or on-screen talent to interact with and utilize in all types of video productions.

In light of modern culture’s insatiable appetite for readily viewable content, media production has become a must-have tool for brands to build and maintain their customer bases.

These large DVLED displays present a major opportunity for companies that produce a lot of video content, most notably global organizations, but few have had the studio space large enough to support this style of production. In light of modern culture’s insatiable appetite for readily viewable content, media production has become a must-have tool for brands to build and maintain their customer bases. However, the cost and fragility of fine pitch DVLED has resulted in unreliable performance and made them challenging to deploy – until now.

A Hesitant Embrace of Cutting-Edge Technology

Since their initial mainstream use, most attempts at creating virtual stages or extended reality (XR) stages have utilized existing DVLED products, repurposing them into set pieces for which they were neither designed nor tested. The results have been mixed, with some directors finding the displays unreliable or lacking the strength and fortitude necessary for full-time, close-quarters use with talent.

For professional-level applications in which the directors hope to transport the audience into a new or different world, the consensus is that pixel pitches must be below 2mm, based on standard camera distances. However, the sub-2mm DVLED products currently on the market today, while stunning in their own right, were not designed for the on-camera use or easy reconfiguration that’s required to let talent be enveloped by and even engage with on-screen content.

video production
(Source: LG)

 

Manufacturers Step Up To The Plate

With demand for virtual stages growing and video content production becoming central to many large business operations, manufacturers are now developing new purpose-built DVLED products to meet the needs of Hollywood studios and Fortune 500 companies alike. Over the coming months, the industry will see the launch of the first DVLED displays to provide 1.5mm and smaller pixel pitches with truly robust design characteristics that provide the resilience needed to stand up to the rigors of daily close contact and the repeated setup and breakdown cycles inherent to film and video productions.

These products will greatly enhance the justification for corporations to build virtual production stages thanks to their smaller size, lower cost and reduced space requirements. After all, the 2.6mm pixel pitch DVLED product used for The Mandalorian had to be 60 feet wide and required actors to be at least 30 feet away from the video display with cameras even further. Most producers and content creators don’t have access to massive filming environments, instead desiring spaces that can be operated with smaller crews and don’t require highly specialized filming tactics.

The new screens utilizing a 1.5mm pixel pitch will enable talent to stand within feet of the screen, allowing for production in much smaller spaces with the same or better performance and reducing costs for both the digital set components and the space to host it.

With input and guidance from major studios, rental companies, producers, and directors in the film, video and corporate production markets, leading manufacturers have begun developing Micro LED displays designed specifically for on-camera and virtual production use. These displays are smaller, more efficient, and they transfer more electricity into light than heat, allowing them to run cooler at the same brightness. Moreover, they’re coated with a proprietary multi-layer smooth surface to protect the screen from damage and deepen the blacks for a better contrast.

Rather than following the current trend of repurposing older SMD LED displays developed for signage or concert tours, which can result in creative compromises on set, companies should leverage next-generation Micro LED technology for a purpose-built virtual production LED that gives producers and directors access to this creative tool, without forcing them to compromise their creativity.

LG, for one, has designed the first viable, sub-2mm, rental-style display for virtual production, combining the company’s Micro LED technology for best-in-class video performance with a rental style frame, for flexibility in the studio layout, and LED display processing technology from industry leader Megapixel VR’s Helios platform, for unmatched on-camera video performance.

The Democratization Of Professional Content Production

Once new display options are proven and trusted, the possibilities for virtual stage and XR stage productions appear to be virtually limitless. Whether rented for one-off projects or purchased for permanent installation at company headquarters, the lower costs and incredible capabilities may change how corporations produce both internal and external media and communications going forward.

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Many types of on-camera work can be done using a simple virtual backdrop as long as it is compatible with the production. From engaging commercials and viral video clips to virtual factory tours and professional-level event staging, these more affordable solutions will encourage wide adoption and may even produce ancillary financial benefits based on reductions in travel and insurance.

Tom Bingham is the Senior Director of Vertical Sales at LG Business Solutions USA. Named by the National Association of Broadcasters as the “Official Commercial Display Partner of the 2023 NAB Show,” LG Business Solutions USA boasts a broad array of advanced broadcast production innovations, including DVLED displays and OLED monitors designed specifically for production.

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