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- Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019
Newly named CBS VFX expands virtual production capabilties
- STUDIO CITY, Calif.
With work that has been seen in series ranging from G.L.O.W. and Orange is the New Black on Netflix, to This Is Us on NBC, and CBS’s Hawaii 5-0 and the upcoming All Rise, CBS’ technology group unveiled its new name and logo, as well as newly enhanced virtual production capabilities that push the boundaries of TV production.
Carrying more than 25 years of experience producing visual effects and developing production technology solutions, the group previously known as CBS Digital has transformed itself into CBS VFX, led by executive creative director Craig Weiss and EP George Bloom.
In November, CBS VFX will move from its current home at CBS Television Center, to a headquarters at the network’s Studio City production center, which will allow CBS VFX to better meet a rising demand for its cost-saving, flexible virtual production solutions. Those include “Parallax,” CBS VFX’s proprietary virtual production system that has been utilized by dozens of series and production teams. The power of “Parallax” allows three-dimensional virtual locations to have the three-dimensional physics and intricate level of detail as real-world locations, providing a director with the freedom to shoot from any angle and in any setting without the need for traveling to a physical location.
“The enormous demand for series content, led by the growth of streaming services, has reached an inflection point where the cost of shooting on location is a budgetary concern,” Weiss said. “The use of virtual locations offers an enormously creative way to save time and money with an end result that is indistinguishable to the viewer yet transformative for cast and crew.”
CBS VFX’s digital, volumetric capture of real-world sets and locations means that a director and DP can almost instantly pre-visualize scenes, determining lenses and composition ahead of time with this “virtual scouting” tool. The CBS VFX system is also entirely portable, for use on a soundstage or in a production office.
CBS VFX continues to build a huge virtual library of digital sets and locations, Bloom added. “We bring the world to the stage,” he said. “Volumetric locations are more than a temporary commodity, they are permanent tools that can be used over and over, easily adapted and changed.”
Bloom described a recent production that required five separate and distinct locations. Once these real-world locations were digitally captured in three dimensions, they were all shot on a single production day while the cast and crew never left a sole soundstage used to replicate all of the locations.
In addition to its work in virtual production, CBS VFX has recently created visual effects for multiple series, including Showtime’s Black Monday and ABC’s Modern Family; developed real-time pre-viz software that has been implemented by multiple productions; and produced an Emmy®-nominated Stranger Things virtual reality experience.
CBS VFX maintains a dedicated virtual production soundstage, and its team is available to television production professionals for live demonstrations of virtual production, digital set extension and real-time pre-viz technologies.