Installing a high-end small production LED volume

Earlier this year Sony opened a new Virtual Production Lab at its Digital Media Production Center (DMPC) in Los Angeles, California. This training and education facility offers production managers, cinematographers, and other customers a unique opportunity to test drive Sony’s line of professional cinema equipment, including the flagship VENICE 2 Cinema Camera, used in films such as Top Gun Maverick. This model serves as an interesting example of how much smaller LED stages are now being successfully deployed, by deploying newer LED panels.

The demo room is a multi-faceted direct view LED (dvLED) video wall, serving as a traditional green screen replacement for virtual production testing and validation, supported by a custom mounting infrastructure designed and installed by Peerless-AV. During their long-term partnership, Sony and Peerless-AV have worked on multiple installs for fixed, front-service dvLED video walls for virtual production.

Sony has used the Seamless Kitted dvLED Mounting Systems from Peerless-AV for a number of its Crystal LED Displays. For this particular install, Sony required a custom solution that would enable the company to showcase its virtual production tools, including high-end dvLED, cinema cameras, monitors, and infrastructure solutions.

The space is not vast and yet it demonstrates how smaller LED volumes can still be effective for smaller applications, such as at film schools. We have covered an array of very large LED volume installations but it is also important to note how effective much smaller stages with state-of-the-art high-density LED panels can be.

The main challenge the team faced was to make efficient use of the limited space without compromising the experience.  Sony also wanted to that full advantage of the high-end display quality, so the dvLED video wall had to be built without visible seams to provide professional visuals of high enough quality for senior industry testing at their facility.

Peerless-AV and Sony went through many iterations and solutions to ensure the products would provide the right result. Through communication, meticulous measurements, and collaboration, it was concluded that a multi­ faceted video wall, containing a flat side and a slightly curved side, would allow for the most flexible working space for creative testing.

The curved side of the video wall was designed to emulate widely adopted standards that are meant to eliminate noticeable color shifts and ensure consistency of the picture when cameras move off-axis in relation to the dvLED display.

Although common to all dvLED displays, color shifts can be more distracting when captured on camera. “We are always up to the challenge of creating custom solutions to problem solve for unique, complex, and challenging spaces,” said Jeff Blankensop, Senior Director at Peerless-AV. “This multi-faceted video wall was just the type of project our precision engineered and highly adjustable dvLED mounting systems were created for, and we knew the results would be successful in creating a continuous and uninterrupted virtual backdrop.”

The installation took five days to install the mounting frame and five additional days to install the Sony Crystal LED cabinets. Alongside additional parties with expertise in virtual production, in-camera VFX, camera robotics, and stage lighting. The flat segment of the wall measures 20ft W x 1Oft H, while the curved segment is 16ft W x 1Oft H with only a 3-degree curve between each column, comparable to what one might find on-set. The dvLED video wall consists of 162 total Crystal LED 8-series cabinets with a 1.58 mm pixel pitch.

The total system is 18-cabinets wide x 9-cabinets high. The flat section is arranged in a 10-cabinet wide x 9-cabinet high configuration, totaling 90 cabinets. The curved section is the remaining 8-cabinet wide x 9-cabinet high for a total of 72 displays. The complete system measures 36ft by 10ft. The system video resolution is 6912px  x 1944px, yielding over 13M pixels, which is greater than 1.5x 4K resolution. This focus on high pixel density was a critical point factor in Sony’s vision for this next generation of on-set virtual production. From designing to fabricating and installing, the entire project took six months to complete.

.Sony showcased the dvLED video wall at the grand opening event for its Virtual Production Lab inside the DMPC. The official opening included the unveiling of the new testing and training stage, with attendees such as content creators, professional cinematographers, high-level camera operators, and more, on-hand to discover Sony’s efforts in supporting virtual production.