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By: Aaron Rogers | Dec 3, 2010

Universal Studios announces the opening of Universal Virtual Stage 1 (UVS1), a dedicated pre-rigged, pre-calibrated virtual production environment with motion capture, camera tracking and related technologies for commercials, television and features. This project transformed the 6,800 square foot Sound Stage 36 at Universal Studios into a self-contained facility with a 40 ft. x 80 ft. green screen cyc, a suite of editing bays and production office space with a conference room. The stage is a versatile addition to the Studios' production and post-production services for both internal and third party productions.

"With UVS1, we have created a flexible production space that bridges both real and virtual, pre and post production," said Dave Beanes, Senior Vice-President, Universal Studios Production Services. "Productions will be able to use digital assets created in pre-viz on UVS1 to compose shots which allows the post-production team to see the exact framing."

Previously, productions that wanted to use this technology paid for weeks of set-up. With the
calibrated and integrated system at UVS1, clients can walk on to stage and begin shooting. By
having an attached production suite with 60 terabytes of high speed online storage, shots can move immediately into editing for final shot selection and transfer to post. A director on stage can visually communicate with VFX artists next door to prepare and perfect CG assets for use on stage. Then the director can consult with editors on how the just completed shots are cut into a scene. The director has unprecedented control to creatively manage pre and post production around the shoot. For client protection, the facility has strict standardized physical and content security procedures.

Universal began planning this project about two years ago. While rebuilding the New York Street
backlot location, Beanes and Jeff Berry, now Executive Director, Universal Studios Virtual Effects
& Production Services, began thinking of the Universal backlot in digital terms. With the continuing trend of elaborate special effects in visual entertainment, Beanes and Berry noted that it can be costprohibitive for various productions to set up a virtual stage environment. After speaking with leading visual effects companies and Universal's own production and post production teams, Berry began planning and building the integrated facility. To further support clients, Ron Fischer (Alice in Wonderland, Beowulf, Polar Express) was brought on as technical director bringing years of visual effects experience.

"This stage has the ability to do pre-viz, production and post-production all under one roof
streamlining the creative process," said Berry. "The stage is designed to be as turnkey as possible from simple green screen work to complicated camera tracking and motion capture in real time."

The stage is part of the company's environmental initiative, Green is Universal, which aims to drive sustainability throughout the company's operations as well as across NBC Universal's 40 on-air and online brands. By using virtual sets, productions don't have to build physical sets, saving construction materials as well as landfill space when the sets are discarded. The stage can reduce the need for cast and crew travel as well.

The investment in UVS1 shows Universal's continuing support of production in the Los Angeles
area. The opening of this stage further enhances Universal's standing as the premier shooting
location in the world.

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Universal Studios is a unit of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80%-owned by General Electric and 20%-owned by Vivendi.

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