STS is a of Virtual Production pioneer in Italy, using Absen LED panels and vivid, natural colours from Brompton 4K Tessera SX40 LED processors for diverse live and recorded productions.
STS Communication launched nearly 40 years ago as a congress equipment supplier, but has since changed over to a full-service provider, delivering technical expertise and equipment for corporate and special events, music tours, exhibitions, brand activations, broadcast TV, as well as fashion and retail projects.
As a member of the global PRG Alliance of event production service and expertise providers, the company is recognised as one of Italy's pioneers in Virtual Production deployment and operates two STStudios, CR49 and Studio1D. Between them, they are equipped for a diverse range of live and recorded productions.
“Aimed at cinematic virtual productions, the CR49 set-up includes a camera tracking system, media servers for background plate playout, render nodes for Unreal Engine photorealistic 3D content, and a highly skilled crew,” said Alessandro Rosani, Chief Technology Officer at STS Communication.
Its curved LED wall spans 24m by 6m and comprises Absen P2.5 XR Pro panels, accompanied by four movable blocks of P3.9 LED panels on the roof, totalling 50sqm. [The P numbers indicate pixel pitch – the distance (mm) between individual LEDs across the panels.] Further to those are two 3m by 2m LED displays on trolleys, integrated with three Brompton 4K Tessera SX40 LED processors and six Tessera XD 10G data distribution units.
In contrast, Studio1D caters mainly for online events, product presentations and live or on-demand talk shows. Designed on a square shape, it has an 18m by 4m LED wall and floor. The studio is set to undergo an upgrade soon, incorporating Absen PL2.5 XR Pro LED panels and Brompton 4K Tessera SX40 LED processors to expand its capabilities for Virtual Production.
“We have received numerous requests for temporary studio installations at customers' premises, prompting our recent investment in a large number of Absen PL2.5 LED panels,” Alessandro said. “Our choice of Brompton Technology LED processing is based on its ability to output vivid, natural colours even at low brightness. We can also use Tessera's ShutterSync feature to precisely adjust the LED screen refresh to match the camera’s shutter speed.”
ShutterSync’s LED tuning process is efficient and automatic. The DoP retains creative control over camera configuration – including choice of aperture, lens, sensor gain, filters and so on to achieve the desired creative result and level of motion blur – and the refresh/shutter speed match is accurate enough to prevent artefacts from appearing.
Measurement and Calibration
Productions need to carry out accurate calibration and mapping of the LED volume to create a continuous virtual environment. Proper calibration involves aligning the LED panels to eliminate visible seams or gaps and adjusting colour and brightness uniformly across the entire display. All Absen LED panels have undergone calibration using Brompton’s Hydra combined measurement and calibration system.
Hydra works with Dynamic Calibration, Brompton’s adaptive approach to calibrating panels that maintains uniformity while accessing the full potential of the panel’s LEDs regarding brightness and colour saturation. The conventional approach is to apply a fixed, factory-specified calibration to all content, throughout the life of the panel, which can result in panels performing below the brightness they are capable of. In contrast, Dynamic Calibration is flexible. It takes into consideration the dynamic nature of LEDs and LED panels, and the variations in the content that is displayed on the panels. It can be used to calibrate panels fitted with a Tessera R2 or R2+ receiver card and measured using Hydra.
Tessera R2 receiver cards have a Dynamic Engine that processes information in real-time with no added latency – to intelligently determine the best possible way to drive each LED. The result is brighter whites, higher contrast ratios, more saturated colours, and real-life colour accuracy for image depth and realism.
For example, extremely bright areas of video content make full use of the LEDs brightness for maximum visual impact, and smooth areas of content are displayed with high uniformity to ensure image clarity. Sensitive, subjective areas of content, such as skin-tones, are balanced for authentic, lifelike colours. In the case of vivid areas of colour, Dynamic Calibration adapts to employ the widest available gamut of the LEDs.
The interactivity of the system means the desired brightness, primary colours and white point are user-adjustable. What would previously have required lengthy, expensive recalibration can now be done at any time from the UI on the Tessera processor, with changes reflected in real-time on the screen – even during a live event. This kind of interactivity encourages users to customise panel performance and appearance on-the-fly.
“Among our favourite Tessera features, as well as ShutterSync, are the colour correction tools like OSCA (On-Screen Colour Adjustment), a user interface that appears on the LED wall with controls for matching panels with model or batch differences, and ChromaTune, which precisely corrects the colours in the incoming video signal," said Alessandro. "Moreover, the Tessera interface is user-friendly and easy to learn. It means we can completely control and monitor the LED panels, which in turn simplifies day-to-day workflows and increases efficiency.”
Considering future opportunities with Absen and Brompton LED processing, he emphasises their agility in rapidly deploying ad hoc cinematic Virtual Production installations across various venues. “We've used this ability on a film shoot on a train in a railway workshop and in a large warehouse replicating cruise ship cabins. With our clients’ creative visions, we're equipped to realise any such projects, crafting complex VP setups driven by our team and systems from Absen and Brompton Technology,” he said.
Since opening, the studios have been used for filming commercials and music videos, as well as collaborating with well-known brands like Vodafone and Toyota, among others. Regarding the continuous support they receive, Alessandro commented that they can count on Brompton’s team across all stages of the project. “Their dedication is truly 24/7," he said. www.bromptontech.com