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Monday, March 27, 2023

Pump up the volume: Australia reveals world’s biggest virtual production studio

The smaller Stage Three is already operational, and can be configured to allow for multiple smaller productions, such as commercials, to film at once. The larger Stage One, which is expected to be operating by May, is aimed at attracting big-budget production, typically from Hollywood.

Sam Esmail’s $188 million series Metropolis, which is currently in pre-production, is expected to be the first to use it.

“This sort of infrastructure supports the highest level of television travelling anywhere around the world,” says Vitins, whose company is owned by Universal Studio Group and provides production services to international shows as well as driving its own slate of Australian content.

The larger of the two new spaces is the biggest such facility in the world.Credit:Luis Ascui

What makes virtual production so appealing to filmmakers is that it reduces the amount of time and money that needs to be dedicated to post-production visual effects, it allows actors to perform in real time in the filmed environment (as distinct from green-screen, where they have to imagine what will be there in the finished product), and it provides for the creation of photo-realistic worlds or exotic locations that might otherwise be impossible or too expensive to utilise.

Clayton Jacobson has pioneered the technology locally, building his own Dreamscreen facility in Epping. It was used for the ABC series Fires – the first Australian show to feature virtual production – and La Brea.


Caroline Pitcher, chief executive of VicScreen, which successfully lobbied the state government to support the new project with a $12.5 million contribution towards its $60 million cost, believes the technology is a potential game changer for the sort of productions that will be made in Australia.

“It’s enabling far more complexity in storytelling,” she says. “This breaks the boundaries that limit physical production, so it enables creatives to dream bigger and in a much more complex way.

“It enables writers to think bigger, better, in different ways. We can be any place in the world or the universe with this technology, and that’s what really excited us.”

Nant will have more than 20 permanent employees on site to run and service the technology.

“This is going to offer up innovative technical and creative jobs for Victorians for a really long period to come,” says Pitcher.

Find more of the author’s work here. Email him at kquinn@theage.com.au, or follow him on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin.

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