Amazon Studios has formed the new Amazon Studios Virtual Production (ASVP) department, and alongside it, a new virtual production stage called Stage 15. Working with the stage’s LED volume wall, production creatives can interact with digital assets and processes in a manner similar to live-action filmmaking.
But instead of physical sets and actors, teams make use of digital world capture, visualisation and in-camera visual effects. They can also use performance capture to incorporate live-action body and facial motion capture into the virtual production workflow, for detailed creature and character animation, and simulcam equipment is available for live compositing of virtual elements with live-action.
Stage 15 combines two former stages to accommodate an LED wall that is 80ft in diameter and 26ft tall. In all, it is a 34,000sqft structure including the LED volume that contains 130,700 cubic feet of interactive space and 17,000 sqft of space dedicated to set construction and production support. The ASVP volume wall is composed of over 3,000 LED panels and 100 motion capture cameras and has a full LED ceiling with drop-out panels, so that productions can rig up to almost 160,000kg of lights and production gear to its truss.
As well as the LED volume wall, this massive new stage will include an internal 2-story building named ‘The Sandbox at Stage 15’. This structure will house a virtual location-scouting volume, a performance-capture volume, a technical scouting volume, a green screen simulcam stage, and a VIP viewing area for clients – visiting executives, filmmakers and guests. It will feature a second, smaller LED stage that has a completely mobile LED wall, camera-tracking system and control cart, along with an engineering workshop, scanning, 3D-printing, production workspace and equipment storage.
AWS Cloud-based Virtual Production
Stage 15 is connected into the AWS cloud, making it an integrated part of the production-in-the-cloud system. The facility’s camera-to-cloud workflow includes a direct connection from Stage 15 to AWS S3 storage that makes dailies instantly available to creative teams from any location. Every shot taken on Stage 15 ends up in the AWS cloud in real time and, from there can be safely and securely distributed around the world.
The ASVP team is developing a VFX and virtual production asset management system for this storage, also based in the AWS cloud, where production teams catalogue, search, preview and repurpose their production assets. This backend system is intended to reduce the lag time that productions typically experience when transferring files and assets from set to editorial, VFX and postproduction vendors and facilities.
The ASVP department staff will guide each project on Stage 15, using knowledge and experience from across the organisation along with an optimised workflow developed in partnership with, and powered by, Amazon Web Services. The division has a full-time executive, engineering and creative team of 20 that has been operating behind the scenes since 2020 on the design, pipeline and build-out of Stage 15.
The first feature film to shoot on the new Stage 15 will be Candy Cane Lane, a comedy directed by Reginald Hudlin and starring Eddie Murphy. Amazon filmmakers may access ASVP as a consultation resource for all phases of a production, from concept planning through post. studios.amazon.com