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CJP Hands Over New Virtual Production Environment

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CJP Broadcast Service Solutions has handed over a new virtual production environment at Solent University Southampton.

The project involved creating an existing studio space into a very large, high performance, flexible environment which will serve students across a range of disciplines.

To provide the sort of facilities students will see in their working lives after graduation, the studio is equipped with the most widely used professional tools. The virtual volume is formed by a 10m x 3m LED wall, with a 4m x 2m ceiling, using AOTO RM2.3mm and MxH3.7mm LED panels powered by a network of Brompton video processors.

The screen displays virtual graphics generated by a multi-node Mo-Sys VP Pro XR server, the third university to utilise this system. At the heart of the VP Pro XR is the Unreal Engine, widely used to create photorealistic environments for final pixel virtual shoots. As Solent has a popular film course, the ability of the Mo-Sys software to pull focus between real and virtual objects is a key creative feature.

The project also included a Red Komodo 6k camera with Sigma cinematic lenses. The camera is fitted with the ground-breaking new, lightweight, and miniaturised Mo-Sys StarTracker Max system to identify precisely where the camera is in XYZ space for perfect synchronisation between real and virtual objects. CJP also installed the new Mimik lighting tile, which as well as providing excellent, controllable, high intensity LED coverage can dynamically adjust its colour temperature to provide a seamless match between real and virtual elements. Solent is the first UK University to install Mimik lighting tiles and the Mo-Sys StarTracker Max making this facility the most technologically advanced educational resource for immersive media production and research in the country.

"This is a tentpole project, our biggest investment for a number of years," said Christopher Woolford, technical instructor at Solent University Southampton. "Its flexibility means it can be utilised by a wide section of our student base – not just film production, but photography, theatre and games design. The students and lecturers alike are incredibly excited to get working with it as soon as possible."

Woolford also made the important point that students with different interests could approach the facility from different viewpoints but still derive maximum benefit. “As there are so many aspects to Virtual Production, different courses have a great chance at working together. The film production students will get to work with CGI courses to build environments, two groups that would not traditionally have come together. Live events could put on a show with visualisations and work with Games design to make it. This cross-course collaboration is something that we are really looking forward to seeing.

Christopher Phillips, managing director of CJP Broadcast Service Solutions, added: "The importance of what we have built for Solent is not that it is a cutting-edge facility, but it gives the students the chance to work with the same equipment and techniques that major television and film productions use.

"The skills shortage in the media industry is well recognised, and Solent and its new virtual production space is ready to deliver experienced and skilful graduates to ease the pressure," he continued. "It is also possible that the studio could host test shoots from industry for technical comparisons or for R&D. Students involved in those will gain even more experience and make new contacts. This is an important investment for Solent."

The new studio was completed during the summer vacation in 2023 and will be used for familiarisation before becoming an integral part of the teaching programme at the beginning of 2024.

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