LOS ANGELES—Question: How ever does Josh Gates, the star of the Discovery+ documentary series “Tales from the Explorer’s Club,” wind up in inhospitable regions as diverse as Mount Everest, outer space and the arctic region and remain no worse for the wear?
Answer: With the help of ARwall’s virtual production technology that enables immersive storytelling and its 20-by-21-foot, 1.5mm pitch 4K LED backdrop, which combined transports the host and viewers to these and other distant, potentially life-extinguishing environments.
ARwall provided the backdrops for the Burbank, Calif., studio where the series was shot. They were used for nearly all of the reenactments in each of the five episodes of the first season—an assignment that included all stunt and outdoor sequences.
Each episode featured production design, special effects and virtual production technology. The combination of these elements was crucial in achieving lavish visuals, essential for documentary production ARwall said.
ARwall used its new color management system, which allowed for quicker control over the image, an advancement in software UI/UX and single operator operation. From the production’s side, the extensive use and variety of special effects and practical set pieces, combined with the virtual environments and LED backdrop, took the seamless mix of virtual and practical set elements to a new level, it said.
One example was snow. “[S]now is difficult,” said Ryan Arms, single operator and virtual production artist. “[I]t tends to blow out and lose detail, so we had to really bring down and control highlights for each new setup while ensuring there was depth and richness in the frame.”
Even the CEO of ARwall was stunned by what the production achieved. “Seeing the ingenuity and creativity in this production made us realize that we’ve barely scratched the surface of what amazing things you can do with this tech combined with a smart team of filmmakers,” said ARwall founder and CEO Rene Amador.
“One time, I visited the set, and they had placed a rock face on the ground with the actor laying on it pretending as if he was climbing up a cliff," Amado continued. "When I looked at the monitor, it looked like we were above the actor with a snowy cliffside below him going into the distant slope below; and it was shockingly convincing.”
More information about ARwall is available online (opens in new tab).
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Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.
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