Competing with cities like Toronto, New York and Vancouver to attract foreign shoots, Montreal now has a new asset to face the competition: a virtual production set set up by the company MELS.
Designed in collaboration with Solotech and powered by Unreal Engine, a technology from Epic Games, this new state-of-the-art set offers producers a “turnkey” service that allows them to design virtual sets in real time during filming.
“We wanted to create a different offer that would allow Montreal to stand out from other cities with which we compete,” explained Martin Carrier, president of MELS, during a visit to the new studio last month.
“The luck we have is that we already had all the ingredients here to create this new business card. The idea is to make the world of video games, special effects, cinema and television work together. Thanks to this technological shift, Montreal will have a head start on how to shoot. We are even already pioneers at this level in Canada. “
As Star wars
Recently used for series production Star Wars: The Mandalorian, this new filming technique consists of replacing the green screens with large LED panels (designed by Solotech) on which the environment in which the characters evolve appears. So, during our visit to the set, two actors were filming a scene that allowed them to go from a New York apartment to the rooftops of Paris in a fraction of a second.
“Until now, we were shooting on a green background and the set was then added by computer in post-production,” explains Martin Carrier. With this new technique, we integrate visual effects upstream during production. This allows us to better control our shoots, but also to seek better quality.
“It is certain that we count on it to attract big American players and large-scale shoots. But we also want this tool to be accessible to local producers who wish to shoot commercials, short films or television series. “
This virtual production set offers more flexibility and creative freedom to film crews. Director Mathieu Ratté, who helped develop the project, believes that this new way of working is perfectly suited to the filming constraints linked to the pandemic.
“With this new way of shooting, you can choose and control the environment in which you work,” he observes. For example, I can have a sunset as a backdrop for a whole day. And if I want to shoot a scene that takes place at the Louvre, I don’t have to cross the Atlantic to do it. I think this is the future of filming. “