Pennsylvania-based NEP Group, the large-scale production facilities outfit that houses TV broadcasts including the Oscars and the Superbowl, is founding a new virtual production (VP) business with three significant acquisitions.
Cliff Plumer – who has 30 year’s experience in entertainment technology, having previously been the CTO of both ILM and Lucasfilm, and had recently been heading up Prysm Collective – has been hired to lead NEP’s new VP wing. Jeff Ruggels will act as SVP of Finance and Operations, Phil Galler and Zach Alexander as co-Presidents of the Lux Machina NEP Business Unit, and Daniel Gregoire and Chris Ferriter as Executive Creative Director and President, respectively, of the Halon NEP Business Unit.
Virtual production – the use of digital tools to mimic and replace live-action production paradigms – has been a growing concern for several decades but has seen an explosion in popularity during the pandemic. The tech allows filmmakers to use giant LED screens to render multiple virtual locations in real-time in a single space on a daily basis, allowing them to add effects on the fly, thus capturing almost everything in-camera, drastically reducing the post-production process and decreasing certain costs.
Recently, the likes of Warner Bros and Netflix have set up major dedicated VP sites. Projects shooting on such stages include Netflix’s 1899 as well as Marvel’s Thor: Love And Thunder and Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania. Recently, Deadline sat down with VP pioneers ILM to discuss how they are pushing the tech forward.
NEP has been looking to build its VP offering, and Plumer has concurrently been establishing a coalition of creative production and technology specialists to deliver a streamlined virtual production solution. Prysm had partnered with Lux Machina and Halon already prior to the acquisition, and the NEP deal is the next step in growing that business.
“The vision for NEP Virtual Studios is the same as we have for our Broadcast Services and Live Events businesses: to be the world leader in helping clients and creators bring their content to life,” said Brian Sullivan, CEO, NEP Group. “When we first started talking to Prysm Collective we were amazed at how closely they were aligned with one of NEP’s newest strategic objectives of building out the leading global virtual production business. It was clear that joining forces would accelerate the path forward for NEP, Prysm, Lux Machina and Halon together.”
“I was looking for a partner to help scale the vision for Prysm Collective, and could not have found a more ideal match than NEP. One of the biggest hurdles to accelerating growth in the virtual production sector is that demand, both for stages and the hardware required to build them, is far exceeding supply, and joining forces with NEP gives us immediate access to a massive footprint and one of the strongest global production teams and set of resources in the industry,” added Plumer.
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