Sony, USC School Of Cinematic Arts Partner On LED Wall Production Studio

Business

Sony Electronics said it is partnering with USC’s

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School of Cinematic Arts to create a virtual-production studio at the top-rated film school that will feature LED walls, cameras, software, and other equipment, and roll out a new curriculum around virtual production.

The announcement came Sunday morning as part of Sony’s news conference for the revived NAB industry conference, which opened Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and runs through Wednesday.

Sony’s equipment and tools will be available on campus imminently, but with the USC school year ending in a couple of weeks, the new curriculum around virtual production won’t debut until next school year.

Theresa Alesso, president of Sony’s Image Products and Solutions – Americas, said the electronics company plans to continue to work closely with USC students and teachers on using the equipment, as a way to improve the products in actual usage.

Gail Katz, the school’s chair of film and TV production, called the agreement “ground-breaking,” in a recorded clip during the presentation. “I can’t wait to see the innovation that results.”

Virtual production is the hottest trend in Hollywood these days, fueled by remote collaboration tools, the on-set demands of pandemic protection, and high-speed internet connections through both 5G and wired systems.

Shows such Disney Plus’ The Mandalorian have relied on studio facilities lined with giant walls of high-quality LED screens as a sophisticated and immersive successor to familiar green-screen technologies. The LED screens with props allow far more interactive and engaging performances by actors, while allowing directors and cinematographers to actually see the setting in which the performances are unfolding.

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USC’s film school has had plenty of high-profile partnerships in the past, from a big Avid investment two decades ago in non-linear video editing systems in a new off-campus center. That announcement brought out alumni directors George Lucas and Robert Zemeckis, among other notables.

More recently, the school built a huge new main building, boosted by big donations from Lucas and close friend Steven Spielberg, another long-time supporter despite attending the nearby California State University campus at Long Beach.

Sony also announced several video cameras for cinema and broadcast use, including the slightly smaller Venice 2 upgrade to its flagship cinema camera and the F5500 camera, which features a large-form-factor sensor in a broadcast-style body.

The company also said it is enhancing its remote collaboration and production software, including products from its recent acquisition Nevion and the Hawk-Eye Replay Product Suite, used by sports broadcasters to create and share video clips and game highlights. The company is partnering with English Premier

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League power Manchester City to “create a next-generation experience combining the physical and virtual world,” said Alesso.

Sony’s move toward enhanced cloud-based and virtual-production tools tracks those of announcements last week by competitors Adobe

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and Blackmagic Design.

Adobe’s recent acquisition of video-review and -approval company Frame.io is now a part of its Creative Cloud suite of software, expanded its Camera To Cloud sharing technologies to 11 hardware and software partners, and launched a new app for Apple

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TV streaming devices, to make it simpler for executives to remotely review, annotate and approve clips in near real time.

Blackmagic has added a significant cloud-based collaboration function to its do-everything software, DaVinci Resolve Studio 18, CEO Grant Petty announced Monday. It also announced several new pieces of hardware designed to make remote production and collaboration easier.

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