Currently, the new Netflix series "1899" by Dark creators Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar is being filmed at the new Dark Bay Virtual Production Studio in Babelsberg, similar to the one used at Disney&s The Mandalorian.
The virtual studio opened at the end of July 2021 and consists of a curved LED wall, 55 meters long and seven meters high, made up of a total of 1470 seamlessly joined ROE RUBY 2.3 LED panels with a brightness of up to 1,500 nits. This is complemented by a modular LED ceiling plus ARRI Skypanels, as well as additional mobile LED lights for interactive lighting including corresponding scenic reflections. The dynamic virtual backgrounds for the LED walls are rendered in real time by the Unreal Engine, replacing the traditional green screen by realistic backgrounds already during shooting.Here our article about the advantages virtual film production as well as their problems.
Dark Bay Virtual Production Studio in Babelsberg
The Dark Bay&s Revolving Stage is unique in the world: Almost the entire interior of the studio consists of a motor-driven turntable with a diameter of 21 meters, which allows filming of real sets from different angles. This overcomes physical space limitations of the LED wall and significantly reduces changeover times. Complete sets can be rotated 360° in just three minutes, and a hatch (trapdoor) built into the stage can be used to simulate entrances and exits. As a second innovation in the field of virtual film production, the Dark Bay has seven permanently installed sprinkler nozzles (Rain Rig), which allow rain effects to be simulated true-to-life on 300sqm.
The new Virtual Production Studio is the largest fixed LED installation of its kind in Europe and has required considerable investment, made possible by a long-term commitment from Netflix (at least one season of "189" plus several other series are to be shot there) and funding from the Ministry of Economics, Labor and Energy of the State of Brandenburg. The studio can also be rented independently of Netflix by other producers after the end of production of 1899 from November 2021. It will be operated by Dark Bay GmbH (founded in 2020 by Friese and Odar&s production company Dark Ways GmbH) together with Studio Babelsberg AG.
Cinema and series productions shooting in the DARK BAY can have up to 25% of their production costs subsidized by federal funds. Furthermore, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg offers an additional 20% subsidy for digital film productions.
The studio was ideal for a film production like "1899" at the time of the Corona Crisis, during which filming at original locations was hardly possible and could therefore be done in the virtual studio in front of photorealistic backgrounds of the desired locations. The filmmakers therefore traveled to the original locations with a minimal team to scan them and then turn them into 3D models so that they could be dynamically displayed in the virtual studio. Baran bo Odar comments: "Post-production thus becomes pre-production".
The German Netflix series "1899" is about a wildly mixed group of emigrants from various European countries who set off from London to New York in 1899 on a passenger ship in search of a better life in the USA and during their journey come across a ship that has been missing for months, turning their journey into a nightmare.