VFX Futures: The virtual production behind the pirate ship scenes in ‘Our Flag Means Death’

Sam Nicholson from Stargate Studios explains the ocean plate camera array and LED wall shoot for the Taika Waititi show.

The new HBO Max show Our Flag Means Death required a number of scenes to be set on a pirate ship on the ocean. Ultimately, the sequences were realized with actors on a partial ship build on a soundstage against a 30 foot by 160 foot LED wall. Projected onto the wall were stitched-together ocean plates crafted by Stargate Studios, headed up by Sam Nicholson.

Initially, Nicholson’s team shot HDR plates with a 360-degree, eight camera rig comprised of Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pros at 45 degree increments. Later, in Puerto Rico, a 270-degree capture, multi-camera array was used featuring five URSA Mini 12K cameras for a total horizontal resolution of 60K. The footage was stitched together in DaVinci Resolve Studio, with a live feed from multiple Resolves crafted on set and fed into Unreal Engine for camera tracking and off-axis distribution to the 20K LED wall from Sweetwater / NEP.

In this episode of VFX Futures, hear Nicholson discuss that work, including a proof-of-concept test (complete with faux pirates and pirate ship, for the show. You can listen in at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or below. You can watch a behind the scenes video here that showcases the camera array shoots and early test by Stargate Studios. The trailer for the show is also below. And check out our previous coverage of Stargate’s work.

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