Crystal LED widens creative possibilities for virtual production

Tokyo-based Sony PCL Inc. has selected Crystal LED video wall technology to create sophisticated new Virtual Production methods with a LED wall – including ‘In-Camera VFX’ – at KIYOSUMI-SHIRAKAWA BASE that opened in February 2022. The state-of-the-art studio opens a new era of video production with Crystal LED.

Crystal LED wall in use showing realistic virtual backdrop being used for film production

How we helped

The Challenge

  • Sony PCL required flexible new solution for creating high quality media content at virtual production studio
  • Needed ‘virtual background’ display with high resolution, brightness, colour accuracy and wide viewing angle

The Solution

  • Curved LED video wall, comprising 400 Sony ZRD-B15A Crystal LED display cabinets 
  • Display dimensions 15.2m x 5.4m with total resolution of 9,600 x 3,456 pixels
  • Sony VENICE 2 cine camera

The Outcome

  • Virtual production simplifies creation of sophisticated ‘In-Camera VFX’, without blue/green screens or complex image composition work in post-production
  • Enables unique new creative possibilities

The first time I set my eyes on Crystal LED I was in awe of its incredible level of luminance and wide colour gamut, as well as its smooth gradation of dark colours. The low reflection coating also reduces surface reflection of lighting, while the wide viewing angle enables freer camera work during shoots.

Shigeyuki Ogawa, Real Time Solution Section, Visual Solutions Business Department,
Creative Division, Sony PCL Inc.

At the forefront of developing new creative expression

Opened by Sony PCL Inc. in February 2022, KIYOSUMI-SHIRAKAWA BASE is a brand new creative facility that’s harnessing various cutting-edge digital technologies to produce state-of-the-art video contents and explore exciting new creative expression.

Serving a wide range of corporate, media and entertainment clients, KIYOSUMI-SHIRAKAWA BASE has the first permanent virtual production studio in Japan featuring Sony’s ZRD-series Crystal LED technology. The advanced micro-LED display solution allows the creation of large-scale video walls with extremely high resolution, brightness, colour accuracy and contrast to provide a hyper-realistic ‘virtual backdrop’ behind performers.

Senior Manager, Visual Solution Business Department, Creative Division, Sony PCL Inc.

Takeshi Ito

Image of Takeshi Ito - Sony PCL Inc. Creative Division
Real Time Solution Section, Visual Solution Business Department, Creative Division, Sony PCL Inc.

Shigeyuki Ogawa

Image of Shigeyuki Ogawa -  Sony PCL Inc. Creative Division

Creating lifelike, truly immersive virtual images

The studio features 400 separate Sony ZRD-B15A Crystal LED display cabinets that are configured to create a gently curving video wall measuring 15.2m wide x 5.4m high with total resolution of 9,600 x 3,456 pixels. Video capture of performers in front of the super-sized video wall is via Sony’s VENICE 2 digital cinematography camera, that itself offers superlative colour accuracy and tonal resolution to complement the lifelike image quality of Crystal LED.

Sophisticated ‘In-Camera VFX’

“’In-Camera VFX’ is a shooting method that combines large LED wall displays and camera tracking systems” explains Takashi Ito, Deputy General Manager, Visual Solution Business Department at the Creative Division of Sony PCL Inc. “Objects and performers are placed in front of a Crystal LED display that shows a CG-generated virtual background. A camera tracking system accurately tracks movement when the camera follows the subject’s movement, allowing you to produce realistic images as if they were captured on location. To achieve these new kinds of visual expression, Crystal LED offers several benefits such as very high resolution, high luminance, wide colour gamut and a wide viewing angle. The display’s anti-reflective coating also suppresses unwanted reflections from studio lighting.”

Streamlined production workflow

As Takashi Ito explains, virtual production using Crystal LED offers further valuable benefits over conventional ‘green screen’ methods: “The traditional chroma key method that makes use of blue and green screens requires post-processing of footage after shooting. However, with ‘In-Camera VFX’ the live action image and CG are both captured simultaneously through a camera. Having a large-scale display in the studio for LED wall-type virtual production contributes greatly to making our image production workflow more efficient”.

Close up of computer screen showing the film footage with filmset in the background

Visualising the future of content production

“We are in pursuit of achieving visual expressions at higher resolution and frame rates and are considering more efficient virtual production image production flows” comments Takashi Ito. “We’re also researching and developing new visual possibilities that make use of Crystal LED, including synthesis between LED walls and AR (augmented reality). New methods of expression using virtual production are evolving every day. At KIYOSUMI-SHIRAKAWA BASE we’re cooperating with engineers and creators to provide fresh creative possibilities that make use of Crystal LED – including virtual production – to generate the next level of excitement in visual expression and innovative user experiences.”