Acclaimed commercial production company BDP Creative Motion, formerly Big Deahl Productions, in tandem with Resolution Productions Group, have announced the availability to the industry of a pioneering new technique the two companies have developed by integrating LED -Light Emitting Diode - screens in-studio to allow production to shoot several "locations" all in one day without ever leaving the stage. The companies have named this new process "Environmental LED Immersion" or "ELI".
BDP CREATIVE MOTION, CHICAGO / LOS ANGELES is home to directors David Deahl and Todd Klein, among the Top Tabletop Directors in the U.S. The company formed a strategic alliance in July 2015 with Resolution Productions Group in Chicago. BDP director Todd Klein, gaffer Marty Rhomberg, and Resolution Productions Group have been working together for several months to perfect this new technique -- one that allows directors to shoot multiple "virtual" locations in a single day, while never leaving the stage.
David Deahl, Founder/Director, BDP, said, "The new Environmental LED Immersion process could seriously change the way much of location production needs are met in the coming years. The use of LED light panels is only going to get better as the technology and use of these methods progresses. Resolution Productions Group has given BDP the opportunity to exploit this exciting medium and help to innovate the way production can become more versatile and efficient in the future. If used properly, this method can not only stretch a location budget, but will also allow for many more diverse locations to be shot all within one day.”
Adds Stephanie Franke, VP/Creative Director, MARC USA/Chicago, "Those of us in the advertising industry are often forced to pull rabbits out of our hats, and this LED-centric technology can help us do just that! Integrating this process into the production pipeline is a huge win for creatives, producers, clients, and, of course, viewers. Environmental LED Immersion (ELI) delivers a much more realistic sense of 'place' in a way that better accommodates the budgets of many of our clients."
Said Snake Roth, Executive Producer, MARC USA/Chicago, "When a creative department thanks you for sending them to a screening demo on their own time and dime - you know it was worth it. We are a fairly small agency and work with limited budgets -- the ELI technology will open some doors that have previously been closed to us. The folks at BDP have spent a lot of time perfecting this for advertising. Thanks to them for teaching this old dog a new trick' "
Jeff Facklis, Resolution Owner/Executive Vice President, said, "Every day, someone thinks of another benefit to using this method. I'm thrilled that there could potentially be so many more uses for our LED panels. "
GENESIS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL LED IMMERSION PROCESS
The genesis of this process began when David Deahl and Marty Rhomberg attended a seminar hosted by the late Fletcher Camera in early 2015. The presenters were a small group of "techies" who were demonstrating how some of the visual effects were created in the movie "Gravity." Deahl and Rhomberg were shown a room that was built from LED panels with a gimbaled-rig to support the actors at various angles. Once video images were fed into the panels, a virtual outer space was created. However, the resolution of the LED panels was too coarse to use as a practical background.
After this demonstration, Rhomberg, Deahl and Klein realized that Resolution Productions Group had a huge inventory of LED panels. They knew there was something about this versatile process that could be offered to the advertising industry. Klein saw the potential in using higher resolution LED panels as the actual backgrounds for commercial, industrial and multi-media productions.
To pursue this new LED production idea for commercial use, Klein and Rhomberg began testing Resolution's LED panels on some small tabletop subjects, to see if the eye would accept the imagery. Klein used a longer lens with a fast T-stop and placed the focus on the foreground subject, allowing the background to fall out-of-focus. "The fact that we were able to present a subject on a lake front beach, and a half hour later present a similar subject in a window display on Michigan Avenue, simply blew my mind! " Klein said.
These first tests were so successful that they decided to test something on a larger scale to see how far they could push the technique. Klein and Rhomberg went to an L-train platform in Chicago, as Klein shot a background element of an L-train. Once back in the studio, they set up lighting to mimic the L-platform location. With Rhomberg then standing in front of the LED background (approx. 10' x 16'), Klein shot them together, and the effect was stunning! Remarking on the test video, Rhomberg commented, "I was totally convinced that I was actually standing on that train platform!"
Because Rhomberg could see the action being projected onto the LED panels, he was able to interact with the virtual train in real time, as it pulled away from the station. "This process could serve as a huge benefit to actors who normally would be looking at a blank green wall behind them, " says Deahl. The results of this initial test were so positive, that they are planning further tests to see if it would be possible to shoot a full figure subject. To accomplish this, they would build up a high-gloss floor off the stage floor so that the LED panels can be lowered to drop below the raised floor, thus creating a seamless transition between the LED panels and foreground. Says Klein, "We're very optimistic that we will be able to duplicate an actual location with a full, head-to-toe, subject standing in front of the LED wall. "
FUTURE PLANS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LED IMMERSION PROCESS
Klein has been experimenting with the Environmental LED Immersion (ELI) process for several months now. He has discovered that certain methods give much better results. The L-train platform test was very simple with nothing going on in the background other than the train slowly pulling out from the station yet it was very convincing. Klein has determined that including other elements -- like people walking in the background or in front of the lens, or the camera moving off of a foreground news stand onto the subject-which would include more interaction with the background plus sound effects - the end results would be even far more convincing and compelling. "When this process is combined with proper lensing, lighting, T-stops and so on, it's easy to see how this could give agency creatives far more capabilities for conceiving any imaginable scene from around the world without having to involve the expenses of traveling video equipment, crews and agency personnel to those actual physical locations," Klein adds.
BENEFITS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL LED IMMERSION PROCESS
1. Background location elements can be shot very simply with just the director and a single agency creative.
2. Most often the locations wouldn't have to be lit, which eliminates a lighting crew.
3. The color transfer could be unsupervised much like dailies (minor corrections can also be done on-set).
4. Shooting multiple locations in one day without ever leaving the stage.
5. Eliminates costly green screen clean-up.
6. No rain days.
7. There's no background green screen that blooms when the T-stop, focal length or focus changes.
8. Can eliminate having to shoot at night because a shoot can be disruptive to a location's business.
9. Eliminates the need to reset an expensive and timely background action because the foreground action wasn't right (like an explosion).
10. The background naturally refracts in people's glasses, liquids, glass objects, etc. With green screen this can be costly to replace natural light reflections and refractions.
11. Out-the-window backgrounds for interior car scenes can be emitted as the actual background and as ambient light for the actors and car interior.
12. It would be possible to shoot running video (POV of someone running down a street) and then put it as background in the studio with someone running on a treadmill.
13. Could eliminate location permits.
14. Talent has something to interact with instead of a blank green background. This is very adventageous when timing is critical (like an actor reacting to a specific BKG action).
15. Interior sets could look more expensive than what a budget will allow. For example, one might only have to build a kitchen island rather than an entire expensive kitchen set.
16. Can provide action imagery as seen from outside the windows of room sets. Imagine shooting a house interior, as if in a hurricane, for an insurance company.
17. Reduces the need to hire extras.
18. Some applications may only require a still image. For example, you may have a product line-up that only needs to be on-screen for a couple seconds and you want it to be in an exotic location. Now you’ve decided that there needs to be a camera move on it. Tracking a location scene into a moving green screen scene takes time and money.
19. If the application only requires BKGs for CU tabletop shots or tighter location scenes then the ELI set-up may only need to be 4 feet by 6 feet which would dramatically cut down on the costs for LED panels.
20. No generators for location lighting.
21. No teamsters.
22. When shooting celebrities time is critical. ELI allows you to shoot your celebrity in several locations while in the studio.
About BDP CREATIVE MOTION:
Launched in Chicago in 1973, BDP CREATIVE MOTION, formerly BIG DEAHL PRODUCTIONS, is an acclaimed commercial production company that works with both national and international clients in Tabletop and Live Action video. Since its formation, the company has been dedicated to creating a fun and collaborative environment by which to craft powerfully original and visually stunning work. Offering all-encompassing facilities in Chicago and Los Angeles. BDP CREATIVE MOTION is able to oversee all aspects of production, allowing for the most creative flexibility, innovation, and ease to fit the needs of any project.