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Amazon embraces virtual production with AWS-powered stage featuring 80x26ft LED wall

The stage where It's A Wonderful Life was shot has been turned into a virtual production volume by Amazon

Amazon Studios has announced the opening of a new “mega-stage” virtual production facility, which will be powered by Amazon Web Services.

Stage 15 is based at Culver City in California, and includes an LED wall that is 80 feet in diameter and 26 feet tall.

The first feature film to shoot on the new Stage 15 will be festive comedy Candy Cane Lane, directed by Reginald “Reggie” Hudlin and starring Eddie Murphy.

Amazon has also formed Amazon Studios Virtual Production (ASVP), which will oversee each project shooting at Stage 15.

Tim Clawson (WW head of production and post, Amazon Studios), Ken Nakada (head virtual prod operations, Amazon Studios), Albert Cheng (VP, Prime Video US) Reggie Hudlin (director of upcoming Prime Video film, Candy Cane Lane), Dan Scharf (VP, head of business affairs, Amazon Studios), Chris del Conte (WW head of visual effects, Amazon Studios)

The division has a full-time executive, engineering, and creative team of 20 that has been operating in stealth mode since 2020 on the design, pipeline, and build-out of Stage 15, said the company. The volume wall will enable production creatives to interact with digital assets and processes in a manner that mirrors live-action to enable digital world capture, visualization, performance capture, simulcam, and in-camera visual effects, it added.

Stage 15 is fully connected into the AWS cloud, and is an integrated part of the production-in-the-cloud ecosystem. The facility provides a camera-to-cloud workflow, with direct connection from Stage 15 to AWS S3 storage to make dailies instantly available to creative teams from any location, said Amazon. Every shot taken on Stage 15 ends up in the AWS cloud in real-time, with the ability to safely and securely distribute assets around the globe.

The ASVP team is also developing a VFX and virtual production asset management system that lives on the AWS cloud, allowing production teams to catalogue, search, preview and repurpose production assets. The backend system will reduce the lag time that productions typically experience when transferring files and assets from set to editorial, VFX, and postproduction vendors and facilities, added the company.

“With the combination of AWS and Amazon Studios innovation is inevitable,” said Chris del Conte, global head of VFX, Amazon Studios. “When you mix the worlds of entertainment and technology, it allows us to take everything to the next level.”

ASVP features and background:

  • Stage 15 is a 34,000-square-foot structure including the LED volume, a “Sandbox” lab, and 17,000 square feet of space dedicated to set construction and production support.
  • The ASVP LED volume contains 130,700 cubic feet of interactive space.
  • Amazon filmmakers may access ASVP as a consultation resource for all phases of a production, from concept planning through post.
  • The ASVP volume wall is composed of over 3,000 LED panels and 100 motion capture cameras.
  • The volume includes a full LED ceiling with drop-out panels, so that productions can rig up to 350,000 pounds of lights and production gear to its truss.
  • Stage 15 was originally built in 1940 and was home to productions that included It’s a Wonderful LifeStar Trek (TV show), Batman (TV show), RoboCopAirplaneThe Three Amigos, and Armageddon.