What it’s like stepping onto a giant LED wall volume

My visit to Pixomondo’s Vancouver virtual production stage.

Recently, during SIGGRAPH 2022, I got the chance to step onto the Pixomondo and William F White International Inc. LED wall stage in Vancouver, Canada. This monster of a stage recently garnered a Guinness World Record for the ‘Largest LED stage’.

When I was there–the first time I’ve ever walked onto a production LED wall stage–the team had just completed shooting on Avatar: The Last Airbender for Netflix. While I wasn’t able to see any of the virtual environments made for that series, they did turn on some Star Trek scenes for me.

What you’ve heard about LED walls is true: once you’re inside the ‘volume’, and once they have those real-time or pre-rendered scenes playing on the LED panels, you feel as if you are there. I can really see how actors and crew can be much more immersed in a virtual location than say just on greenscreen or bluescreen.

And I also saw much more clearly how actors can move about the space with a free-flowing camera and perspective changing real-time rendered backgrounds, and how in-camera VFX shots can be composed.

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Photo courtesy Pixomondo.

Pixomondo and William F White International Inc.’s Vancouver LED wall stage is 24.3 m wide and 8.3-m-tall (80 ft x 27 ft 6 in), and covers an area of 2,044 m² (22,000 sq ft). It’s lined with 2,500 LED wall panels and 760 LED ceiling panels. It’s imposing.

As well as standing in the middle of the filming area, I also got a chance to go behind the stage and up into the rafters to get a bird’s eye look. It’s all pretty wild, and was a great insight into the future of filmmaking and production.

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