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Ball State University installs virtual production studio

Looking for a more affordable approach to studio production, the University Teleplex at Ball State University in Muncie, IN, has installed a virtual set in its HD production studio, supplied by Vinten Radamec. The system utilizes three Vinten Radamec Quattro SE manual encoded pedestals topped by Vinten Vector 950E manual encoded pan and tilt heads.

The company and the university are calling it “one of the most sophisticated virtual reality systems in the world.” Ball State is now using it to produce newscasts with electronically generated sets and teach students virtual reality techniques. The facility is also being rented to outside commercial and public organizations.

In addition to the Vinten Radamec manual encoded pedestals and pan and tilt heads, Ball State’s facility is using Orad’s High-Definition Digital Video Graphics (HDVG) rendering platform and Maestro controller software, as well as Ultimatte 11 blue/green screen compositing hardware.

The Teleplex houses a pair of studios: a smaller 30ft x 40ft studio that will serve the news program and smaller projects, and the main 40ft x 60ft space with a coved cyclorama backdrop painted entirely in chroma key green. The ability to move from one production to the next between the two studios was a major selling point. The Teleplex technical crew can perform such a move and recalibration of cameras in about five minutes.

The pedestals and heads provide up to a million positional data points through 360 degrees, which allows the Orad rendering engine to precisely generate backgrounds and foreground objects that move as the cameras move.