CoPilotXR uses Blackmagic Ultimatte 12 4K to perform real time green replacements on set during virtual productions, avoiding editing and keying in post, saving production time and cost

Blackmagic ultimatte copilotxr2

CoPilotXR, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba in central Canada, specialises in extended reality (XR) virtual production. By customising XR workflows and systems for its clients, CoPilotXR is making XR productions more widely achievable and understandable for productions of all sizes.

CoPilot originally started as a film production company, mainly working on commercial video projects. Since then, the company has successfully broadened its scope by dedicating 90 percent of its business development focus toward virtual production and AI related systems. Becoming experts in the field of XR, CoPilot handles a variety of services for clients, from consultation to the physical construction of XR LED stages. Among its clients are ExxonMobil, the Government of Canada and Mo-Sys Engineering. As well as this work, the CoPilot team produces its own YouTube channel, also called CoPilot, to educate a broader audience on affordable yet reliable equipment needed for XR productions. 

An example of the kind of equipment CoPilotXR uses regularly and recommends are Blackmagic Design Ultimatte 12 4K real time compositing processors. CoPilot’s Director of Virtual Production Austin MacKay estimates that, since implementing the Ultimatte 12 4K, CoPilot has been able to save roughly 10 hours per project for its clients by removing the need for extra editing and keying in post. “Our mission is to make virtual production accessible to everyone,” said Austin.

Blackmagic ultimatte copilotxr4

“You don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to create immersive, live environments. This kind of project can be done at a producer’s home, at a place of business, or at a studio. The Ultimatte 12 4K is a great example of the gear that makes that happen. We use it for a significant portion of our projects, especially for green screen XR virtual production.”
CoPilot integrates an Ultimatte 12 4K, with HyperDeck Studio 4K Pro broadcast decks and DeckLink 8K Pro capture and playback cards, into its studio workflow in order to key out and replace green screen backgrounds in real time. While recording, the combination of the Ultimatte 12 4K and the HyperDeck Studio 4K Pro captures the visuals in their final form – with the intended background in place behind the talent, displayed on a screen in the studio. The crew can visualise the foreground and background elements together, and adjust lighting and actors on the fly while everyone is still on set.

Blackmagic ultimatte copilotxr

The labour intensive task of green screen keying in post becomes much shorter or, for some projects, largely unnecessary. “Before implementing the Ultimatte 12 4K, a single video could take anywhere from two to ten hours to chroma key. With the Ultimatte 12 4K, there is almost zero time spent keying,” Austin said. “Depending on the complexity of the project, you can save as much as two days of editing time with a single click of a button.”

It also avoids investing in an LED studio with walls and tracking equipment, and learning to use them. Austin talked about the Ultimatte 12 4K’s ease of use. Everyone on his team is able to use it, regardless of their level of editing experience.

“Our team is trained in a multitude of tools, including Unreal Engine 5,” he said. “However, the best part about the Ultimatte 12 4K is its plug and play nature. You don’t need to be a professional editor or environment artist to be able to use it to its full potential for creative projects. Once the Ultimatte 12 4K is set up for one environment, you can shoot on green screen all day. You have the backgrounds live, moving and connected, creating an XR virtual environment.”

Blackmagic ultimatte copilotxr3
As well as implementing an Ultimatte 12 4K in its own studio, CoPilot also uses numerous Ultimatte 12 4K units for external client projects, and recently created a green screen virtual production setup with four of them. Austin said, “Green screen virtual production with multiple cameras is becoming more accessible and affordable as well, especially for live productions. Companies and studios of all sizes are reaching out to CoPilot about how to build this kind of set up for them, and Ultimatte 12 4Ks are at the centre of that.”