Take a seat, make yourself comfortable, and we’ll teleport you to the Palace of Versailles.
That was the essential pitch made to participants attending Studio20’s booth at the Ile de France Location Expo, which ran Feb 13-14.
Attendees were invited to sit in front of a green screen, and then saw themselves projected into the Palace of Versailles.
Straightforward green-screening is of course commonplace. What makes this new technology stand out in is that the camera can then be moved, and the focus pulled, and both the foreground and background will change simultaneously.
Once the virtual set – that may include people and animals – has been created, both the camera and characters can weave their way through it, all in real-time.
So it’s far quicker and more cost effective to shoot productions that are set in the past or future, or, for example, shoot scenes with A-list stars in crowded streets, without their ever having to leave the studio.
Studio20, a Paris-based production and digital design company founded in 2011 by Pierre Dieulafait, and co-owned by Didier Diaz’s Transpalux, will be using these tools on two major productions – “Versailles” and “Animal’z”.
Studio20’s InSight software suite has been developed in partnership with LA-based Light Craft Technology, whose clients include Stargate Studios.
Using the suite it’s possible to visualize and record green-screen sequences and add a virtual 3D setting, in real-time, without recourse to standard tracking and compositing methods.
Aired by giant Galllic paybox Canal Plus, the $30 million English-language TV series “Versailles,” which is produced by Marathon and Capa Drama, is a 12-part one hour series about the young Louis XIV, written by “Mad Men’s” scribe duo Andre and Maria Jacquemetton.
The series is set before the construction of the Palace of Versailles. The new technology will play a key role because, in addition to the new production opportunities offered, the real-life settings no longer exist.
The “Versailles” shoot will begin in August and include seven months studio work.
Prior to setting up Studio20, Pierre Dieulafait was a production manager who worked on films such as Bela Tarr’s “The Man from London”, Tran Anh Hung’s garlanded “Scent of Green Papaya” and Mathieu Kassovitz’s “Assassins.”
Dieulafait told Variety that he decided to launch the company because he felt that there was a real need for such services in the business, that can reduce costs and also cut post-production times by up to 80%.
“It’s an extension of my job – which is how to provide the widest possible number of shoot options at the lowest possible cost.”
Talking at the Ile de France Location Expo, Dieulafait argued that one of the prime advantages of his virtual studio is that post-production is fully integrated into the production stage.
Shooting with Studio20’s suite and crew is budgeted at around $3,000 a day; it offers cost advantages not only in terms of other lengthier green-screening processes, but even in terms of accessing prime heritage sites such as the Palace of Versailles, whose own location hire costs are higher.
Studio20 will also be working on the upcoming $30 million futuristic feature, “Animal’z” written and directed by comic-strip artist, Enki Bilal, that will mix real-life shots, 2D and 3D animation techniques, and CGI.
The technology is also available for more low-budget projects that can shoot up to 20 minutes per day. Per Dieulafait, deals are about to be announced on two further feature films.