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Japan’s VLS Pioneers Virtual Production with Zero Density

Virtual Line Studios (VLS) was founded in 2020 with a joint venture between Nikkatsu Corporation, Digital Frontier, and AOI TYO Holdings and is making waves in the world of virtual production in Japan. The studio aims to create innovative video creations through the use of new technologies and leverage its founders’ century-old film-making history.

Tadashi Tanaka, President & CEO at Virtual Line Studios, said, “Nikkatsu Corporation is the oldest film production company in Japan with a history of 110 years, and this building is 70 years old. It is a film company with the longest tradition in Japan.”

In their pursuit of the latest technologies in virtual production, Virtual Line Studios came across Zero Density. The studio tried out Zero Density’s Reality Engine, the real-time node-based compositor featuring video I/O, keying, tracking, compositing, and rendering in one single machine. Zero Density’s regional partner, Ask Co, undertook the Reality Engine installation and training process. Then, Reality became the foundation of Virtual Line Studios’ venture into the world of virtual production.

VLS has built a massive studio that can house big production crews. The studio has a large green background measuring 14 meters wide, 10 meters deep, and 7.5 meters tall, making it one of the largest in Japan. The technical setup includes Reality Engine 4.27, a Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K G2 camera, and the stYpe RedSpy for tracking. The ARRI SkyPanel light is installed in the studio, and they have both the S60 and S360. Virtual Line Studios has one Reality Engine for their studio, but clients may bring their own Reality equipment, depending on the project.

According to the VLS team, their initial fundamental core is built upon Nikkatsu’s extensive knowledge regarding live-action filming, Digital Frontier’s experience, and AOI TYO Holdings’ connections. When adding Reality Engine expertise into the mix, the VLS team thinks that their production capability is on a global scale.

VLS, so far, has become home to advertisements, company promo videos, episodic for Japanese TV and music videos, among other use cases.

Kohki Koshita, Technical Director at VLS, said,”(Reality Engine) Features that impress people the most is the keying quality, another is the mixing of actual footage and CG. With other solutions, this can be complex or impossible, but with Reality, this can be done easily.”

The team has had many clients request the FlyCam function, and in such cases, they did seamless transitions of zooming out shots using movements of tracked cameras.

Virtual Line Studios aims to share the technology and knowledge they’ve accumulated over the years to expand the industry of VS/XR together with their partners. They believe that their staff can fully meet the expectations of clients and teams from around the world.

The studio’s main objectives are real-time compositing and “Onset-Vis,” or Onset Visualization. Video production is completed on set, and they use a highly reliable system like Reality to focus on the background in real time and check it while shooting. According to the Virtual Line Studios team, this shooting style is still rare in Japan, but they believe this technology will enable them to expand their creativity and improve post-production efficiency.

Virtual Line Studios is poised to make virtual production the new standard of video production in Japan. With its strengths and objectives, the studio is set to continue its leadership in the field of virtual production.

As the team at Virtual Line Studios believes, “We aim to create video productions that exceed the expectations of our clients and take the industry to the next level.”


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