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No green screen needed as augmented reality creates immersive performance stage

MARS enables performers, actors, presenters and products to be blended into a photo-real or imaginary virtual environment in real time

MARS Studios, a purpose-built Mixed Augmented Reality Studio, launched on 10 September 2020, following a three-month research and development phase examining the value of cinematic-quality extended reality (xR) and virtual production for the global music industry.

Created by Bild Studios, MARS combines video game engines, camera-tracking technology, media servers and LED screens to create an immersive performance stage and studio, enabling performers, actors, presenters and products to be blended into a photo-real or imaginary virtual environment in real time.

MARS uses LED screens rather than green screen to create realistic lighting and allow skin tones and reflections to appear natural when filmed in the virtual environments.

Bild Studios co-founder David Bajt said, ‘Over the last two decades, the Bild team has collectively worked on live experiences and high-end productions for some of the world’s leading artists and brands, including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Cirque du Soleil, Dubai Expo 2020, Ralph Lauren, Ferrari, Volvo, Samsung, BMW, Ed Sheeran, Nokia, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and many more.

‘Since then, we have been working hard behind the scenes to develop the world’s leading xR production technologies and know-how, working with globally renowned musicians, entertainers and presenters to break beyond the physical dimensions of the traditional film location, event venue or broadcast studio.

‘Furthermore, the technology on MARS is ideally suited to the COVID-19 era. Visual content can be produced without the need to travel to different locations while maintaining social distancing, not to mention the environmental benefits of dramatically reducing the power consumption associated with large-scale onsite productions.’

Tom Connick Product Manager at Rina Sawayama’s label Dirty Hit said: ‘The shooting process at MARS was one of the most innovative and boundary-pushing approaches to music video production I’ve seen.

‘The combination of mixed and augmented reality served both a practical purpose in the post-Covid era and opened up creative possibilities that would be otherwise prohibited by the limitations of an entirely physical set.

‘This allowed for us to safely execute a high-end music video without compromising the creative side of Rina Sawayama’s already exemplary video output.’

Combining mixed reality, AR and xR set extensions, three separate, aesthetically diverse live performances by Ellie Goulding were shot during only one day in July 2020, a feat which would be impossible with traditional film-making.