Dark Slope Bolsters It’s Virtual Production Team

DARK SLOPE BOLSTERS IT’S VIRTUAL PRODUCTION TEAM

 

 

 

As Dark Slope opens its doors to new productions at its new LED volume soundstages, the company is announcing a series of new hires and promotions. This strategic enhancement of its team underscores the company’s commitment to supporting productions with top-tier talent.

New Virtual Production Team Hires

Joining Dark Slope from Pixomondo working on productions including Star Trek: Discovery is Vikram Verma. He brings top virtual production experience to the team and joins as the new Virtual Production Producer. Verma’s impressive 15-year track record in animation and VFX for high-profile projects—including work for Disney, Amazon, and CBS—equips him to adeptly manage the complex demands of contemporary virtual production.

Adam Hickman joins the team as Technical Director, where his expertise will focus on the integration of innovative LED volume technologies and Unreal Engine workflows, enhancing the technical capabilities of Dark Slope’s productions.

Rachael Baptiste has been appointed Studio Manager, bringing her Agile-certified project management skills to ensure smooth operations across Dark Slope’s projects.

Additionally, Seulgi Lee has been hired as CG Generalist & Engine Operator. Lee’s expertise in 3D art and ICVFX technology will contribute to virtual productions across genres.

These strategic additions and promotions at Dark Slope reflect the company’s dedication to advancing the possibilities of virtual production, ensuring it remains at the cutting edge of technological and creative developments in the entertainment sector.

Senior Leadership Promotions

Justin Cathcart has been promoted to Head of Virtual Production, a role in which he will oversee all virtual productions for Dark Slope partners, clients and owned television IP. He will also oversee the new state-of-the-art virtual production studio which features multiple soundstages, including a stage with one of North America’s largest curved LED volumes. Cathcart brings over two decades of experience across various sectors, including traditional filmmaking, motion capture, animation and IT including as Virtual Production Supervisor for networks such as NBC, CBC and CTV.

Promoted to the role of CFO is Cormac Monaghan, who brings a robust background in senior Finance positions with Warner Bros Canada, eOne and Blue Ant Media. Monaghan, a Kellogg School of Business alumnus, will now oversee financial operations across all areas of Dark Slope, including the new virtual production studio.

SETTING THE STAGE FOR DARK SLOPE’S VIRTUAL PRODUCTION STUDIO LAUNCH

SETTING THE STAGE FOR DARK SLOPE’S VIRTUAL PRODUCTION STUDIO LAUNCH

 

 

 

As virtual production continues to redefine the boundaries of film and television production, Dark Slope is poised to unveil its state-of-the-art virtual production studio. Nestled in a space that has played host to legends like Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, and Cher, this iconic location is set for its next act, merging historical significance with the forefront of production technology.

Unlocking New Realms in Storytelling: The Unexplored Potential of Virtual Production

Virtual production, a term once tethered exclusively to the behemoths of the entertainment industry, is now able to have broader appeal and versatility. Beyond the realms of big-budget blockbusters and special effects-laden spectacles, virtual production is emerging as a game-changer for more storytellers from documentaries to live action reality shows. “Virtual production is a versatile tool that’s finding its place across a broad spectrum of projects,” shares Raja Khanna, Co-Founder and Executive Chair at Dark Slope. This adaptability is revolutionizing how stories are told, offering unprecedented creative freedom and breaking the traditional boundaries of location and physical sets.

Dark Slope’s Pioneering Approach to Crafting Worlds

With a foundation built on the belief that technology should serve the art of storytelling, Dark Slope has championed a unique approach to virtual production for all forms of story worlds. “Our company’s approach to virtual production is centered around flexibility and innovation,” Khanna states, highlighting the seamless integration of digital environments with live-action footage. This methodology not only supports various project scales but also fosters innovations like Dark Slope’s hyperreality TV shows, blending immersive challenges and reality for thrilling programming that has been previously unimaginable.

Why Dark Slope’s New Virtual Production Studio Is a Game-Changer

The unveiling of Dark Slope’s new virtual production studio marks a pivotal moment in content creation. Nestled within the historical 793 Pharmacy Avenue space, the studio, with its two distinctive stages, is poised to redefine the possibilities of virtual production. This strategic expansion is driven by a vision to democratize virtual production, making it accessible to a wider range of storytellers and creators. “The future of virtual production is incredibly exciting,” Khanna reflects, emphasizing the studio’s role in pushing the boundaries of storytelling and visual narrative. The integration of the latest advancements in LED technology and real-time game engines, coupled with a skilled team passionate about innovation, sets the stage for a new era of storytelling in Dark Slope’s 32,000 square feet of studio space. Within this space Stage A is a 12,600 sq. ft soundstage perfect for fixed practical sets, swing sets, green screen, and motion capture. Roving LED panels can also be made available for shoots. Stage B is Dark Slope’s large LED volume and includes a curved LED wall that is 75 ft. wide in circumference and 16.5 feet high, along with the team of Unreal Engine production experts, for a seamless Virtual Production experience across drama, unscripted, vehicle processing, commercial production and more.  

In addition to Dark Slope’s in-house production team, the facility is also home to 793 Productions, with vast facilities including: online and offline edit suites, audio record booths, screening rooms, VFX, greenscreen and still photography stages and commercial hardware rental solutions.  Studio 793 has access to a large array of practitioners ranging from Commercial Directors to artists and editors.

From Gaming Roots to Virtual Production Trailblazers

Dark Slope’s journey from a globally renowned VR game developer to an emerging leader in virtual production underscores a narrative of evolution and adaptability. Leveraging expertise in Unreal Engine, motion capture, and animation, Dark Slope has navigated its path to pioneering virtual production solutions. This transition was sparked by recognizing the transformative potential of LED volumes and real-time animation pipelines, catapulting Dark Slope into the forefront of virtual production. The team has supported the creation of animations through to live action content with virtual production solutions for a few years now, leveraging other studio space. This expansion unlocks the opportunity to have a greater impact through virtual production for more productions. 

The Strategic Timing of Launching Dark Slope’s Virtual Production Studio

The decision to launch Dark Slope’s virtual production studio now reflects a meticulous understanding of the industry’s readiness for innovative production methods. In a strategic partnership agreement with SideFX, Dark Slope is not just adapting to the evolving landscape but actively shaping it. “The recent global challenges have accelerated the adoption of virtual production,” Khanna observes, noting the increasing demand for high-quality content that virtual production uniquely satisfies. This collaborative vision with SideFX and openness to further partnerships signify Dark Slope’s commitment to leading the charge towards a more efficient, creative, and environmentally sustainable production paradigm. Virtual production also plays an important role in carbon reduction in the screen industries and the time for studios to make choices that do so is now.

Is Virtual Production Right for Your Project?

For storytellers contemplating the leap into virtual production, the landscape is ripe with opportunity. “Creators considering virtual production should evaluate the specific needs and creative goals of their project,” advises Khanna. With virtual production’s ability to manifest dynamic, visually rich environments and its suitability for projects demanding high visual continuity, the technology stands as a formidable tool in a creator’s arsenal. Dark Slope emerges as a visionary partner, offering expertise and technology to realize the boundless potential of virtual production.

Contact us to learn more about the studio space and book a tour before the official opening.  (links here: https://site.darkslope.com/contact/)

 

THE DEEP DIVES INTO MIXED REALITY: DARK SLOPE HAS SECURED PRODUCTION FUNDING FOR THE DEEP

THE DEEP DIVES INTO MIXED REALITY: DARK SLOPE HAS SECURED PRODUCTION FUNDING FOR THE DEEP

 

 

 

February 1, 2024 (Toronto, Canada) Dark Slope today announces they have secured production funding for a mixed reality extension of the global animated hit series The Deep.  The Deep – Beyond The Reef will launch as a Meta Quest 3 title and is supported by an investment from the Canada Media Fund. 

In The Deep – Beyond The Reef players will plunge into an underwater adventure as they are challenged to navigate and unravel the secrets of uncharted waters.  This immersive experience from Dark Slope promises to leverage the cutting-edge capabilities of Meta Quest 3 and will deliver an unparalleled mixed reality experience.

Developed for a global audience and produced by A Stark Production and WildBrain, together with Infinite Studios, The Deep series an is based on the Aurealis Award-winning graphic novel series, which was created by multi-award-winning, best-selling comic book author and playwright Tom Taylor (Superman, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Wolverine, Iron Man, Batman: The Detective, Star Wars: Age of Resistance) and co-creator, artist James Brouwer (Justice League Beyond), and published by Wolfgang Bylsma and Skye Ogden’s Gestalt Comics. With a Kidscreen Award and BAFTA nomination under its belt for the television series, The Deep franchise is set to continue its legacy with this mixed reality experience from Dark Slope to chart new depths of interactive storytelling and adventure.

Underlying rights holder of The Deep, CEO & Executive Producer at A Stark Production Avrill Stark said, “The Deep has captivated audiences globally with its rich storytelling and vibrant universe. We are incredibly excited that Dark Slope will be building an experience that invites existing and new fans of this world into an adventure where they can navigate the depths of the ocean with under-water vehicles, encountering fascinating creatures.”

“Avrill Stark and her team have created a fantastical underwater world filled with incredible vehicles and creatures. We are thrilled to develop The Deep – Beyond The Reef for the Meta Quest 3 platform which allows for truly immersive physical gameplay through hand tracking and MR Passthrough,” reflects Dan Fill, President of Dark Slope.  “Dark Slope’s expertise in crafting story experiences across spatial and traditional media formats uniquely equips us to elevate The Deep into an incredible mixed reality experience, in line with the essence of the show and what immersive audiences are seeking. With The Deep – Beyond The Reef, we’re not just crafting a game; we’re pioneering a new dimension of interactive storytelling, setting new benchmarks for immersion and narrative depth in the mixed reality domain.”

About A Stark Production Pty. Ltd (ASP)

A Stark Production (ASP) is a Sydney-based Production Company and a leader in the creative development and production of quality children’s  content. ASP teams with global partners to deliver successful internationally co-produced shows. From its inception the company has been led by Avrill Stark, an independent and highly creative producer who has teamed with companies to produce hundreds of hours of series across a broad age range, preschool – teens. ASP has received many nominations and awards for outstanding animation: The Kidscreen Award for Best Kids Series, the prestigious UNICEF Award at Annecy, the Elan Award for Best Animated Television Production together with a BAFTA nomination and numerous nominations for the Australian Film Industry (AFI) Awards. ASP prides itself on the creation and development of TV series and feature films with a diverse appeal both in animation and live action for children. Above all, we make ‘having fun’ a priority in our pursuit of entertaining young audiences!

Visit  https://avrillstarkproduction.com

About Dark Slope:

Elevate your entertainment with the Dark Slope edge. Dark Slope’s accomplished team of trailblazers and advanced spatial and virtual production technologies combine to bring quality television and unforgettable immersive experiences to life for clients and partners including Marblemedia, Aircraft Pictures, Insight Productions, Nickelodeon, Dave & Busters, Hasbro, Epic Games, NBC Peacock, WildBrain,  TVOntario, WarnerMedia and more. Dark Slope is recognized as a Realscreen Trailblazer for their impact on the scripted and unscripted industries (2023), and as a North America Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ (2022) and Canadian Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ (2022) 

Visit https://site.darkslope.com/

Dark Slope Announces Strategic Partnership with SideFX Software and Unveils Virtual Production Smart Stage in Toronto

DARK SLOPE ANNOUNCES STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP WITH SIDEFX SOFTWARE AND UNVEILS VIRTUAL PRODUCTION SMART STAGE IN TORONTO

 

February 1st, 2024 (Toronto, ON) – Dark Slope, the Toronto-based virtual production and spatial gaming company, today announces a strategic partnership agreement with SideFX Software, makers of the popular Houdini VFX software. The partnership includes a material investment to be directed towards the launch of an advanced virtual production smart stage in Toronto, set to open in the Spring of this year.

The smart stage builds upon Dark Slope’s award-winning technology, production, and storytelling expertise, and is designed to bring new creative possibilities and production efficiencies to television, film, and commercial producers locally and internationally.

“Kim Davidson and the SideFX team share our passion for innovating at the edge – where spatial technologies meet creative excellence in content creation” said Raja Khanna, Co-Founder and Executive Chair at Dark Slope. “We look forward to harnessing this partnership with SideFX to bring the broader content industries new ways to create engaging, entertaining media using the latest virtual production and in-camera VFX techniques.”

Catering to a range of industry production needs, Dark Slope offers solutions that combine the studio’s proprietary tools and workflow innovations alongside its experienced creative development team. The integration of feature-film grade hardware with deep expertise in spatial technologies enhances production efficiency, reduces costs associated with traditional shoots, and provides unprecedented creative flexibility. The studio’s new 75’ LED volume features feature-film quality hardware and an AI-enabled pipeline.

“The vision for our smart stage is to redefine how quality entertainment can come to life,” said Dan Fill, President of Dark Slope. “Our expertise at the forefront of spatial technologies and creative development, uniquely positions us to drive innovation in virtual production. Our new smart stage is not just an investment in technology; it’s a conduit for us and other producers to bring a wide array of content, from scripted to reality to sports, to life more efficiently without sacrificing creative vision.”

Kim Davidson, President & CEO at SideFX Software commented, “We are thrilled to back Dark Slope’s venture. Dark Slope has consistently demonstrated not only their expertise in storytelling but also their technological acumen in both linear content and immersive gaming. Their mastery of Unreal Engine and their ability to seamlessly integrate high-quality hardware and software, including SideFX’s Houdini, into their workflow positions the company for great success as the market embraces real-time technologies. This synergy of storytelling prowess and technical expertise is exactly why we believe this partnership is a strategic step to advance the future of virtual production.”

Dark Slope’s growing portfolio features virtual production-based collaborations with industry leaders such as Marblemedia, Aircraft, Insight Productions and Nickelodeon. A testament to the studios’ ability and commitment to building innovative entertainment solutions. The company has earned recognition for its impact on the industry, earning accolades such as the Realscreen Trailblazer (2023) and has been featured in the North America Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ (2022) and Canadian Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ (2022). Dark Slope’s current Series A raise remains open as the company looks to accelerate its growth across all lines of business.

In advance of the opening of the smart stage, Dark Slope’s creative team is also available for consultations on productions to align on the benefits and savings of using the smart stage.

Learn more Here

About SideFX

Established in 1987, SideFX is a world leader in the development of 3D animation and visual effects software for use in film, commercials and video games. SideFX has been recognized for its Houdini software with five Scientific & Technical awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, plus an Engineering, Science & Technology Emmy Award. Houdini has been used by studios such as Weta, Disney, Pixar, DNEG, Framestore, EA, Blizzard, Ubisoft and more to create stunning digital work in blockbuster films and TV, including: Avatar: The Way of Water, Encanto, Frozen, Raya and the Last Dragon, Dune, Leave the World Behind, The Last of Us, Black Mirror, Moana, The Lord of the Rings, and more – and video games Ghost Recon, Battlefield, Gears of War, Mafia III, Dropzone, Killzone, Uncharted, and more.

About Dark Slope

Elevate your entertainment with the Dark Slope edge. Dark Slope’s accomplished team of trailblazers and advanced spatial and virtual production technologies combine to bring quality television and unforgettable immersive experiences to life for clients and partners including Marblemedia, Aircraft, Insight Productions, Nickelodeon International, Dave & Busters, Hasbro, Epic Games, NBC Peacock, Wildbrain, TVOntario, WarnerMedia and more. Dark Slope is recognized as a Realscreen Trailblazer for their impact on the scripted and unscripted industries (2023), and as a North America Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ (2022) and Canadian Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ (2022).

 

 

Gaming done Dark Slope’s way

GAMING DONE DARK SLOPE’S WAY

By: Breanna Schnurr

Stephen Buchan, Head of Production – Games and Senior Producer at Dark Slope, has been gaming since ‘the beginning’ on early IBM computers. “My first games were text-based, where it was just text on the screen. And you think that would not be fun, but man, I burned so many hours playing those games.”

Since the days of Pong and King’s Quest, Buchan has become a part of the gaming development world at Dark Slope and other studios such as Ubisoft for many years. Buchan says he fell in love with gaming because of its interactivity.

“I get bored watching TV. I get bored watching movies. I want the back and forth, I want to be involved, I want to be controlling something. So gaming, to me, is just that perfect mix of relaxing but interacting at the same time and VR gaming takes it to a whole new level. In Virtual Reality you are completely immersed in the world and the interactions and gameplay feel more real and consequential. You are not just playing as the character…  You are the character.”

The path of production

While final products end up very different, Buchan says the crossover in developing VR and 2D games is incredibly similar. Teams go through conception, pre-production and technology phases to determine the game’s mechanics. Once the building blocks are in place, the team moves into building the game itself. “We’ve got a game design document, we’ve decided how our tech will work, we started building tools, then we go to production and various stages of user testing throughout alpha and beta stages,” Buchan says.

Overstimulation and stability are essential to see on external testers, but plot engagement is another significant element of having individuals test the game. “As developers, we know the game so well that we tend to stick to what we call the golden path,” says Buchan. “External testers, they like to wander. They like to do things that we don’t anticipate. And that helps us to find these things and to take care of them.”

Then the development moves into polishing and perfecting the game. “Basically, stop adding things to it and try to take what you have and make it work. It means making sure the game performs well,” says Buchan. “It means making sure the memory completely fits so that the game doesn’t crash. It means knocking down all those bugs and any stability problems, and it also means getting to game design and pulling on the levers and twisting the dials.”

Once polish is complete, game developers must ensure that the game meets the platform’s requirements. These requirements, such as performance and stability benchmarks, ensure a consistent and high quality user experience. Once we are approved, the game is prepared for worldwide release.

Creating 2D vs VR Games

In Dark Slope games and other games, Buchan typically looks for the effectiveness of user interaction [UI]. “I think one of the things that really separates VR from 2D is the interaction,” he says. “I love when I see UI that’s not button pushing. It’s pulling on levers or [virtually] eating something to make a choice.” 

Other examples of UI elements with physical interaction include the character answering a phone to receive quest information, turning a door handle or crawling through tight spaces.“There are so many opportunities to pass messages on to the player that can keep them completely immersed in the world that they’re in,” says Buchan. 

As players have complete 360 control of their headset, teams must also consider the visual aspect. “It’s a great opportunity to hide little things and make wonderful little vistas for the player to see. The immersion of the visuals, if you take them into consideration, can take our games to another level.”

Something that continues to excite Buchan about VR is how new the gaming style is. “There’s not much in the 2D world where you bring up a game, and you’re surprised by something that they did because it’s almost all been done,” says Buchan. “But VR, you can still be surprised, and I think that’s really exciting.”

Real-world reflection in children’s television

REAL-WORLD REFLECTION IN CHILDREN’S TELEVISION

How Babble Bop! Is diversifying stories told in and out of the studio

By: Breanna Schnurr

In the hand-clapping, baby-bottom-wiggling, sing-along world of music, dance and preschool play of  NBC Universal’s Babble Bop!, produced by Dark Slope, the main characters, Lily, Hugo, Miguel, Izzie and Sam, discover more about the world while having fun. Tots learn about pets, managing emotions, and many other things in the world around them. And, celebrating diversity is an important part of the world of Babble Bop! 

Some new faces

The production team behind Babble Bop! believes in celebrating diversity and reflecting the world we live in through their characters, including some new additions to the roster for season two.

Atoosa Mohajer, Production Manager for Babble Bop!, shares about the brand-new places and faces joining the cast.

“We expanded the world of our preschoolers from their homes and backyard to include songs and stories about going to daycare! With this new cast, we had the opportunity to showcase a type of family that we hadn’t seen before.” For example,  Leta is a single mother to Ava, and also owns the daycare where Lily, Hugo, Sam, Miguel and Izzy go to school. Leta and Ava are of Indian descent, which Mohajer says was largely inspired by production partners Vishus Productions, who were involved with season one. 

“With the unlimited recourse and knowledge provided by Vishus Productions, we were able to tell authentic stories and showcase genuine depictions of an Indian family,” says Mohajer.

In addition to the show’s new characters, the team has also created a 30-minute compilation for different Holiday celebrations, which includes a new song about the festival of Diwali. “With the help of Vishus Productions, our choreography team was able to research authentic dance numbers to further enhance the storytelling,” says Mohajer.

Other holiday episodes include Cinco De Mayo, composed and performed by Hispanic composer duo Tiffany Joy and Maqui Reyes, Hanukkah and a Lunar New Year Dragon Dance.

Family matters

Family structure is also highlighted through Babble Bop!’s characters. From same-sex parenting, multigenerational living, and single-parent households, the team hopes families also see themselves represented on TV.

“We want to show that not all families look the same, and there are so many wonderful things to celebrate through differences,” says Mohajer. “Anywhere from having a twin brother, to having a mixed-race family, to having Grandma move in, or having two dads or a single mom.”

Team effort

Mohajer says the diversity reflected in the Babble Bop! team is what makes the show feel so genuine. “Having a diverse team of producers, actors, composers, and artists allows us to tell diverse stories in an authentic way. We have a wealth of knowledge and resources of people available to us who can consult on sensitive matters.”

Christine Thompson, Head of Animation Production, mentions how women and BIPOC are leaders of the show. “Key roles at all stages of production are filled by BIPOC and women team members,” says Thompson. “These roles include the Producer, Assistant Director, Production Manager, Assistant Production Manager, Composers, Vocalists, Motion Capture Production Manager, Movement Director, Motion Capture Actors, model, texture and rigging artists, storyboard artist, layout artist, animators, technical staff and our editor.”   

All in all, the importance of diversity inside and outside media should be a common practice across children, teen and adult television. “I strongly believe that everyone needs to see themselves reflected in the media that they consume in an authentic way,” says Mohajer. “We hope that our preschool audience can celebrate diversity through song and dance, the way our cast is depicted throughout the entire show.”

Babble Bop! Season 2 is set to debut on May 4th, exclusively on Peacock. 

The growing popularity of virtual production

THE GROWING POPULARITY OF VIRTUAL PRODUCTION

 

Why consider virtual production?

  • Unlimited production possibilities
  • Create big productions with smaller and/or remote teams
  • Reduced production costs, overall 
  • It’s a medium that supports movies, television, advertising, and animation 

Article Summary

This article explains some of the benefits of virtual production and why using these technologies are becoming so popular.

The entertainment industry is no stranger to virtual production. Popular television shows like The Mandalorian and well-received movies like Avatar are prime examples of how entertainment is using this new technology to their advantage.

The virtual production world is not exclusive to movies or streaming giants. Creative agencies, and even influencers can take advantage of what virtual production has to offer, even if you start with a simple iPhone app. 

Production savings 

“When you compare virtual production to a traditional pipeline,” Says Justin Cathcart, Head of Virtual Production Services at Dark Slope. “More of the costs are upfront costs for pre-production.”

Upfront there are costs for elements such as virtual sets and characters, and these costs can be low if you leverage assets that are already created.  Luckily, you can create and even re-use these elements such as sets at any time without having to travel anywhere to find what you’re looking for, eliminating additional travel costs. 

Christine Thompson, Head of Animation at Dark Slope, explains why production is so much quicker using virtual production techniques compared to keyframe animation. 

“Real-time rendering with motion capture allows us to see animated characters in sets, moving in real time early in the production process,” says Thompson. “We are able to see exactly what the show will look like and can solve problems earlier, as well as being able to animate in less time with less overhead.”

A more intimate setting

Along with reduced production timelines, price drops come with smaller team sizes.

“[Virtual production] gives us so much more power than we had before. It allows for rapid iteration, we can easily adjust cameras and other significant elements,” says Thompson. “Before these tools, revising and re-rendering a scene would take a long time and be very costly to the production.”

Creativity breeds innovation

“Nobody wants to be the first to try something out,” Says Cathcart. “Producers and directors need virtual production technologies to be bullet proof, and I feel like we’ve [Dark Slope] done that.” Series like Dark Slope’s Babble Bop! created for NBC Universal, make their mark and show what’s possible using the most fitting cutting-edge technology to bring a show’s vision to life.

Recently, Dark Slope and Immersion Room have teamed up to create a one-stop shop for all virtual production projects— allowing both studios to support creatives in Toronto and worldwide.

Studios can enter the virtual production world whether they have pre-existing projects or not.

“If you’re already a series that has pre-existing assets, we can bring those in and get them ready for virtual production,” says Cathcart. “Since sets are virtual, we can have creative teams go on virtual scouts together to pick locations. Everyone sees the final product before we even start shooting. It’s a fantastic way for everybody to have a voice and see their creative vision come to life.”

Why consider virtual production?

  • Unlimited production possibilities
  • Create big productions with smaller and/or remote teams
  • Reduced production costs, overall 
  • It’s a medium that supports movies, television, advertising, and animation 

Article Summary

This article explains some of the benefits of virtual production and why using these technologies are becoming so popular.

The entertainment industry is no stranger to virtual production. Popular television shows like The Mandalorian and well-received movies like Avatar are prime examples of how entertainment is using this new technology to their advantage.

The virtual production world is not exclusive to movies or streaming giants. Creative agencies, and even influencers can take advantage of what virtual production has to offer, even if you start with a simple iPhone app. 

Production savings 

“When you compare virtual production to a traditional pipeline,” Says Justin Cathcart, Head of Virtual Production Services at Dark Slope. “More of the costs are upfront costs for pre-production.”

Upfront there are costs for elements such as virtual sets and characters, and these costs can be low if you leverage assets that are already created.  Luckily, you can create and even re-use these elements such as sets at any time without having to travel anywhere to find what you’re looking for, eliminating additional travel costs. 

Christine Thompson, Head of Animation at Dark Slope, explains why production is so much quicker using virtual production techniques compared to keyframe animation. 

“Real-time rendering with motion capture allows us to see animated characters in sets, moving in real time early in the production process,” says Thompson. “We are able to see exactly what the show will look like and can solve problems earlier, as well as being able to animate in less time with less overhead.”

A more intimate setting

Along with reduced production timelines, price drops come with smaller team sizes.

“[Virtual production] gives us so much more power than we had before. It allows for rapid iteration, we can easily adjust cameras and other significant elements,” says Thompson. “Before these tools, revising and re-rendering a scene would take a long time and be very costly to the production.”

Creativity breeds innovation

“Nobody wants to be the first to try something out,” Says Cathcart. “Producers and directors need virtual production technologies to be bullet proof, and I feel like we’ve [Dark Slope] done that.” Series like Dark Slope’s Babble Bop! created for NBC Universal, make their mark and show what’s possible using the most fitting cutting-edge technology to bring a show’s vision to life.

Recently, Dark Slope and Immersion Room have teamed up to create a one-stop shop for all virtual production projects— allowing both studios to support creatives in Toronto and worldwide.

Studios can enter the virtual production world whether they have pre-existing projects or not.

“If you’re already a series that has pre-existing assets, we can bring those in and get them ready for virtual production,” says Cathcart. “Since sets are virtual, we can have creative teams go on virtual scouts together to pick locations. Everyone sees the final product before we even start shooting. It’s a fantastic way for everybody to have a voice and see their creative vision come to life.”

Dark Slope and Immersion Room Collaborate to Bring Revolutionary Virtual Production Solution to Toronto

DARK SLOPE AND IMMERSION ROOM COLLABORATE TO BRING REVOLUTIONARY VIRTUAL PRODUCTION SOLUTION TO TORONTO

Dark Slope and Immersion Room Collaborate to Bring Revolutionary Virtual Production Solution to Toronto

TORONTO, Canada (February 2, 2023) – Dark Slope and Immersion Room have joined forces to revolutionize virtual production for studios and agencies with their all-in-one solution. The collaboration brings together Dark Slope’s 2000 square foot motion capture stage, its team of game engine artists, technologists, and storytellers together with Immersion Room’s 6500 square foot Toronto studio featuring an 800 square foot LED volume using their leading edge virtual production LED-volume ecosystem.

The Dark Slope and Immersion Room news is a game-changer for the Toronto screen industry, a top five market in North America with limited LED volume studio spaces. It sets the stage for limitless possibilities in TV and film production, advertising content and more. The all-in-one solution leverages best-in-class virtual production technology which allows for essentially any story world, character, and effect to come to life, in real time.

The benefits of this collaboration go beyond the local market, as studios and agencies can also contribute to virtual production sessions remotely through real-time remote collaboration tools. “The combination of Dark Slope’s  powerhouse teams with Immersion Room’s premiere studio facilities enables us to make previously impossible production possible” shares Justin Cathcart, Head of Virtual Production at Dark Slope. “The resulting content output is of the highest broadcast-ready quality, and our proprietary Flex KS Pipeline dramatically improves the efficiency of the production workflow, and even enables remote directing. This efficiency means that these advanced virtual production capabilities are now more accessible and affordable for a wider range of creators. We’re excited to support the growing demand for virtual production in Toronto and beyond.”

The combined workflow resulting from the Dark Slope and Immersion Room collaboration also unlocks opportunities for innovative story creation tools to be developed for the expanding virtual production market. Dark Slope developed its remote-enabled, motion capture and Unreal-engine Flex KS pipeline while working on a production for NBCUniversal, and now other creators will be able to realize its benefits. Immersion Room’s R&D arm restructured LED volume technology to be filmmaker-first and continues to remove restrictions that most filmmakers do not initially expect. This work is enabling the use of tools and techniques that were extremely difficult inside LED volumes in the past, beginning with the use of any camera, and continuing with hand-held, slow-motion, multiple cameras, and more.

I love that moment when our clients realize that their dreams aren’t just possible, but that they can dream bigger. Teaming up with Dark Slope gives me a taste of that too! Together, we’ll do more than ever with motion-capture and real-time rendering for in-camera VFX”, says Immersion Room’s General Manager, Tanya Stemberger. “I’m looking forward to seeing what we do with the tools and skills we have, but I’m especially excited for the inspiration for further innovation our projects will spark. Together, we’ll be finding and smashing barriers to storytelling with Virtual Production.

Dark Slope is an entertainment company with a singular focus to make the impossible – possible. With advanced motion capture and virtual production technologies, Dark Slope develops genre defining television programs and unforgettable immersive games for clients and partners including Dave & Busters, Hasbro, Epic Games, NBCUniversal, Wildbrain, Nickelodeon International, TVOntario, WarnerMedia, Zero Latency and Hologate.  Visit https://site.darkslope.com/ to learn more.

Immersion Room Inc (IR) is a Virtual Production (VP) company with a mission to remove barriers to storytelling with VP by using deep understanding and continuous development of the technology. Immersion Room sells VP technology, VP studio designs and builds, and staffs IR-ecosystem LED-stage studios to provide pre-production and on-set services for VP. The combination of knowledgeable and skilled service staff with a strong R&D team has enabled Immersion Room’s diverse clientele to do more with VP in an LED volume, at price-points that most productions can afford.

Little Engine taps Dark Slope as their virtual service production partner for a unique CGI puppet animation workflow

LITTLE ENGINE TAPS DARK SLOPE AS THEIR VIRTUAL SERVICE PRODUCTION PARTNER FOR A UNIQUE CGI PUPPET ANIMATION WORKFLOW

Little Engine taps Dark Slope as their virtual service production partner for a unique CGI puppet animation workflow

TORONTO, Canada (January 30, 2023) – Dark Slope and Little Engine Moving Pictures are collaborating on a unique virtual production process that integrates Dark Slope’s advanced motion capture techniques into Little Engine’s innovative puppetry/animation hybrid process, developed by creator, showrunner and animator Ben Mazzotta. This workflow is currently in production for an upcoming Little Engine Moving Pictures preschool series.

Dark Slope’s expertise is truly elevating our animated series through virtual production” shares Maria Kennedy, owner and EP at Little Engine Moving Pictures. “Our characters and world evolved significantly, from us puppeteering marionettes against green screen with motion-tracked faces animated in post, to real actors embodying our characters through high quality motion capture. The transformation to 3D animated characters in our 2D animated world is a real game changer.”

This method benefits the quality and speed of the production, while also being more cost effective. It allows for the team to plan and iterate on how the story is told and make dynamic adjustments with the actors as they record the animation in real time. This also allows for near-final looks of the animation’s action to take place far earlier than with traditional productions.

It is such a pleasure to work with the creative team at Little Engine Moving Pictures to help realize their vision,” shares Christine Thompson, Head of Animation Production at Dark Slope. “Dark Slope has a talented team with the know-how to match the right virtual production technology and techniques with the specific vision of the show – from motion capture for animation, to LED volume for live action content.”

Dark Slope is an entertainment company with a singular focus to make the impossible – possible. With advanced motion capture and virtual production technologies, Dark Slope develops genre defining television programs and unforgettable immersive games for their original IP, co-productions and clients. Dark Slope is recognized as a Realscreen Trailblazer for their impact on the scripted and unscripted industries (2023), and as a North America Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ (2022) and Canadian Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ (2022) company. Visit https://site.darkslope.com/ to learn more.

Little Engine Moving Pictures is a Canadian entertainment company that develops, produces and distributes original, innovative TV series and interactive content for an international audience of Kids and Family. Little Engine’s partners include TVO, Knowledge, CBC, Shaw Rocket Fund, Canada Media Fund, Ontario Creates, TFO, Radio-Canada, ABC, Hop TV, SuperRTL, V-Me, Muslim Kids TV, and Daekyo. Little Engine’s distribution library includes Cutie Pugs, Now You Know, Canada Crew, The Picco Incident; The Gumboot Kids, I Love, Baby Baby, Space Kids and Run Jump Play by Imagine Create Media; Dino Powers by Dofala Studios, and Smack Dab In the Middle of the Day Show by Mango Moon Productions. Visit https://www.littleengine.tv to learn more.

Dark Slope and Lumeto Recognized as the Only Canadian Spatial Technologies-Focused Companies on North America’s Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ and Canada’s Deloitte Technology Fast 50™

DARK SLOPE AND LUMETO RECOGNIZED AS THE ONLY CANADIAN SPATIAL TECHNOLOGIES-FOCUSED COMPANIES ON NORTH AMERICA’S DELOITTE TECHNOLOGY FAST 500™

DARK SLOPE AND LUMETO RECOGNIZED AS THE ONLY CANADIAN SPATIAL TECHNOLOGIES-FOCUSED COMPANIES ON NORTH AMERICA’S DELOITTE TECHNOLOGY FAST 500™ AND CANADA’S DELOITTE TECHNOLOGY FAST 50™


TORONTO, Nov. 16th. 2022
—Dark Slope and Lumeto, subsidiaries of Spatial Industries Group Inc., today announced they are ranked  #15 on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 in Canada and #80 on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 in North America.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 500 ranks the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, fintech, and energy tech companies in North America, now in its 28th year. Dark Slope and Lumeto are the only Canadian spatial technology-focused companies on the list. The Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ and Deloitte Technology Fast 50™recognize the fastest-growing technology companies with the highest percentage revenue growth from 2018 to 2021.

Dark Slope and Lumeto were founded on a vision rooted in leveraging spatial technologies to create compelling new forms of entertainment and education. Co-Founder and Chair Raja Khanna commented “We are proud to have assembled such an incredible global team of spatial technology experts and creative leaders. Our team has built unique, market-defining technology and content using its expertise in game engines, VR, immersive gaming, TV and virtual production. We are determined to create the next generation of entertainment at Dark Slope, and to revolutionize healthcare education at Lumeto. Neither of which is a small task!”

Dark Slope and Lumeto collaborations have helped to accelerate their growth. Dark Slope continues to develop television and immersive games for distribution through broadcast TV, OTT and location based entertainment channels including NBC Peacock, Wildbrain, Nickelodeon International, TVOntario, Warnersmedia, Dave & Busters and more. Lumeto’s InvolveXR platform is currently being used by several healthcare institutions including hospital systems, nursing schools, medical schools and the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) for Difficult Airway Management training. CHEST also conducted an IRB-approved study to evaluate the efficacy and ease of use of this training across three institutions – Mayo Clinic, NYU and Wake Forest- with significant results in knowledge improvement.

“As the demand for creating previously impossible entertainment and education experiences expands, we are poised for further growth”  shared Khanna. “Our investors including MaRS IAF, Slaight Communications, TELUS Ventures, Graphite Ventures, Golden Ventures, Radical Ventures and Globalive Capital Inc., are helping us set the stage to have an even greater impact”

“This year’s Technology Fast 500 list is a true reflection of some of today’s most determined and inspiring pioneers who have prospered by anticipating what’s next, understanding what’s needed to succeed and driving creativity forward,” said Christie Simons, partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP and industry leader for technology, media and telecommunications within Deloitte’s audit and assurance practice. “Representing all facets of technology, the winners have shown they not only have the vision but can also expertly manage their companies through rapid growth. We congratulate each winner on their impressive achievements.”

About Dark Slope – a subsidiary of Spatial Industries Group

Dark Slope is an entertainment company with a singular focus to make the impossible – possible. With advanced motion capture, biometric and virtual production technologies, Dark Slope develops genre defining television programs and unforgettable immersive games for clients and partners including Dave & Busters, Hasbro, Epic Games, NBC Peacock, Wildbrain, Nickelodeon International, TVOntario, Warnersmedia, Zero Latency and Hologate.  Visit https://site.darkslope.com/ to learn more.

About Lumeto – a subsidiary of Spatial Industries Group

Lumeto enables effective healthcare training  through its flexible and advanced XR simulation and skills assessment platform, Involve XR. The platform enables healthcare institutions looking to deploy data-driven, enterprise-grade, immersive training and assessment across their programs and learner groups. The company currently operates across the health care and safety fields, enhancing learning outcomes tied to individual and team decision-making, problem-solving, de-escalation and complex procedures. Lumeto is on the cutting edge of XR and as a two time EPIC mega grant recipient drives enhanced levels of learner assessment and benchmarking, providing educators and learners the ability to learn in live, synchronous or asynchronous, immersive learning environments independently or as an interprofessional group. Lumeto is based in Toronto, Canada, and employs a global workforce. Visit www.lumeto.com to learn more.

About the 2022 Deloitte Technology Fast 500™

Now in its 28th year, the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 provides a ranking of the fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, fintech, and energy tech companies — both public and private — in North America. Technology Fast 500 award winners are selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2018 to 2021. In order to be eligible for Technology Fast 500 recognition, companies must own proprietary intellectual property or technology that is sold to customers in products that contribute to a majority of the company’s operating revenues. Companies must have base-year operating revenues of at least US$50,000, and current-year operating revenues of at least US$5 million. Additionally, companies must be in business for a minimum of four years and be headquartered within North America.

About the 2022 Deloitte Technology Fast 50™

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program is Canada’s pre-eminent technology awards program. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the program recognizes business growth, innovation, and entrepreneurship in four distinct categories: Technology Fast 50 ranking, Enterprise Fast 15, Clean Technology, and Companies-to-Watch. The program also recognizes companies within the North American Technology Fast 500 ranking, identifying thriving technology companies in the United States and Canada. The 2022 program sponsors include Deloitte, RBCx, Osler, EDC, CBRE, Vector Institute, Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI), Clarity Recruitment, Lafond, and TMX. For further information, visit www.fast50.ca.

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. In the United States, Deloitte refers to one or more of the US member firms of DTTL, their related entities that operate using the “Deloitte” name in the United States and their respective affiliates. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Please see www.deloitte.com/about to learn more about our global network of member firms.


Media Contact:
Laura Mingail
Archetypes & Effects
laura@archetypesandeffects.com

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Youtube
Consent to display content from - Youtube
Vimeo
Consent to display content from - Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from - Google