Revolutionizing car scene productions with Barco projection

Stockholm, SE - 2021

In 2019, Eric Hasso from Igelkott Studios, a company specialized in car scene productions, and Vello Hermann, Barco projection specialist at Projection Pro Image, joined forces to create the next-generation of digital car scene solutions. They believed it was time to complement the traditional trailing solutions with new technologies and techniques.

For the first time, it's possible to film 360° scenes in very high resolution and with low compression – which is important as noise is a big enemy to the AI programs used to complete the material in the digital production chain.

Today, Igelkott has a permanent studio in Brunna, just north of Stockholm, that serves as both film studio and development studio. Two or more Barco HDX-4K Pulse projectors are used for the projection. As everything is played out as a 360° file in real-time, there’s a lot of pressure on the playout computers. Four 4K outputs or more are needed simultaneously to serve the entire system and to allow for quick adjustments in angle or height for a perfectly perceived camera position.

Set the light

Additional HDX-4K20s and some movable LED displays are used for extra light. Eric explains: “We rarely use conventional lighting in a car scene anymore, because lamps can't yet be completely synchronized to the rapid behavior of the light from the recorded video. For example, if you have a shot where the driver is washed by sunlight from the side window and the sun gets blocked by some branches as the car passes a tree, the time and effort to sync up a lamp for that type of light behavior is just not an option. When using the Barco projectors’ light, we just aim and set the level for it, as it is already color graded together with the rest of the projected backgrounds.” 

Also, when working with projectors, choosing between wash or beam style is easier. “We had cases where the director needed a different style of unfocus for artistic reasons. It can be done with digital blur or other effects, but sometimes digital unfocus just looks a bit too… digital. It doesn't have the same ability of finetuning as a projector lens does. With the projectors that’s all possible as they have a good internal memory preset for it. That's very tricky to apply on LED.”

The benefits of UST for close-up car scenes

The Igelkott company also offers mobile set-ups in different sizes. It's often a mix of up to 5 Barco UDX-4K40s and/or HDX-4K20s, depending on the needs of our client. “If we need to go HDR on a project, which is rapidly becoming a sort of standard, it's really easy as it is a standard feature on the Barco projectors. It requires more work of course, but the Barco projectors are up for it.”

And thanks to the 0.4 Barco TLD+ lenses the total area of the studio set-up can remain small if needed. “We think that projectors are a very handy alternative to LED screens when building set-ups that have a short distance between the camera and the projected image such as car scenes. Using three-chip Pulse projectors for every background image is the only way today that allows a camera to focus straight on the screen without moire or visible pixels.”

LED vs projection

“Over the past two years we found that a lot of the production companies we worked with had a tendency to assume that projection solutions are too weak for matching the native ISO of a typical movie camera like Arri Alexa. And that LED would be the only answer to go to. With Barco’s UDX series and the fact that most new movie cameras on the market have double native ISO, and can therefore work in much lower light conditions, have really given us good momentum for continuing working on more projection type solutions for the movie and streaming industry.”

Technical evolution for movie studios

The movie and streaming industry is undergoing remarkable changes and the technical evolution will rush forward faster than before. “There is a long list of features our clients want us to implement, but we’re slowly moving the boundaries of what is possible. The next step for us is to complete the adaption of Unreal engine in the set and explore more ways Barco can help us get some more useful features for moviemaking to be implemented in future Pulse platform releases.” And Barco is more than willing to keep continue working together on the next revolution for movie and tv studios.

If we need to go HDR on a project, it's really easy as it is a standard feature on the Barco projectors.

Vello Hermann

Barco projection specialist, Projection Pro Image

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