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Massive VR stage at Pier59 Studios features Planar LED video walls

Jul 25, 2023

Pier59 Studios has installed Planar LED solutions in its new virtual production studios in Chelsea Piers, New York City. As the largest photography and multimedia complex for fashion and advertising in the world, Pier59 is equipped with the latest technology to accommodate the needs of the demanding clientele. With its latest venture, Pier59 is embracing the next era of content creation with the launch of an immense, state-of-the-art virtual production stage. The new virtual stage features a Disguise media server and a stunning array of LED display technologies from Planar.

The Planar LED solutions include:

  • A curved, 65-foot-wide by 18-foot-high (40×11) Planar CarbonLight CLI VX-B Series LED video wall with a 2.6mm pixel pitch (CLI VX 2.6) 
  • A nearly 30-foot by 10-foot articulating LED ceiling comprised of an 18×6 Planar CarbonLight CLI VX-B Series LED video wall with a 2.6mm pixel pitch (CLI VX 2.6) 
  • Four LED display moveable carts, each with a 5-foot-wide by 11.5-foot-high Planar CarbonLight CLI VX-B Series LED video wall with a 2.6mm pixel pitch (CLI VX 2.6) 

“Federico Pignatelli has always embraced technology and its capacity to change the way content is captured,” said Steve Baum, chief innovation officer for Pier59. “So, when he became aware of the concept of virtual production, he immediately recognised the opportunity to build a full-sized virtual stage at Pier59.”

Ultimate Creative Flexibility 

 Located in Stage C, a 6,500-square-foot space with 30-foot-plus ceilings, the new virtual production stage has been hailed as the world’s biggest and most advanced for fashion and advertising. Dubbed the “LED MegaWall,” the impressive virtual production stage is a studio for rent that provides fashion, beauty and luxury partners with a captivating backdrop for their photo and video productions, product launches, events and more. As part of its services, Pier59 provides its virtual production team as an extension to its client’s crew to operate the technology on their behalf.

“The LED video walls look great with the naked eye, but what’s most important for us is that they look great in-camera,” said Lorenzo Ferrante, virtual production manager at Pier59 Studios. “Production professionals like DPs that use our stage have the guarantee that any colour profile they want can be accomplished and that the representation of colour is accurate. And obviously, virtual production provides the advantage of in-camera visual effects, which cuts the time and costs for post-production.”

 Baum said, “By combining 3D virtual environments with the flexibility of the virtual production stage, we can conjure nearly any place, at any time of day during any season, precisely controlling the environmental conditions. We can even adjust them on the fly to get the perfect shot. And then, of course, the virtual stage can deliver cost savings by eliminating the time and cost of traveling with cast and crew to far-flung locations.” 

Working with Planar, Pier59 achieved its goal of building a large and immersive LED video wall and articulating LED ceiling, creating the largest LED volume that could fit in Studio C, according to Baum. He also emphasised the role of the four LED movable carts in their virtual production operations, which are “one of the more interesting and unique design components of the project,” Baum said. “They have very specific purposes. One is to create foreground lighting and reflection. So, if we have something shiny in a shot, like a car, we can move those walls behind the camera facing into the shot to generate reflections on the car, which would otherwise be extremely difficult to add in post-production.”

 A second benefit is the ability to move the LED display carts to any of Pier59’s other stages for smaller production shoots. “Significant engineering went into those products,” Baum said. “We can not only move them, but we can also daisy chain them together. It was quite ingenious what Planar was able to build for us.”

Pier59 Studios founder and president Federico Pignatelli said, “As a disruptive technology, virtual production is comparable to the digital photography revolution of the late 90s. By delivering significant cost savings and incomparable creative flexibility and quality control, virtual production is going to radically change the way fashion and advertising content is produced.”

 Modernising Pier59’s Lobby Venue

 Pier59 also integrated three Planar TVF Series LED video walls in a two-story lobby and café space located directly adjacent to Stage C. The new additions include a 6-foot-wide, 8-foot-high (3×7) installation with a 1.2mm pixel pitch as well as two nearly 12-foot-wide and 8-foot-high (6×6) arrays, one with a 1.2mm pixel pitch and the other with a 1.8mm pixel pitch.

 “It’s an incredible open space with a beautiful deck and the video walls create a visual enhancement,” Baum said. “On most days we run promotional content or client work examples on the video walls, but we also have a fairly robust event business at Pier59 and now with the addition of the video walls, we are seeing a lot of interest in utilising them as a presentation element for keynotes, screenings and other use cases. People are also interested in using the lobby space for brand takeovers with their events. It’s another great addition for us.” 

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