Located just 30 miles from London, UK, CUBE Studio’s state-of-the-art 7,500 sq. ft. full-service virtual production studio opened in Spring 2023. It incorporates the latest VP technology, including Brompton Technology LED processing, to deliver visual excellence and inspire new ideas which has attracted big names such as EY, Final Pixel, McKinsey & Co., Nokia, and RadicalMedia, along with production firms, corporations, and film and TV organisations to choose it for their creative projects.

The creation of CUBE Studio was driven by a simple idea. After spending years in video production, in 2020, university friends James Hakesley, Co-Founder & CEO, and Roy Kimani, Co-Founder & Director of Innovation, recognised the immense potential of virtual production. They wanted to establish their own VP environment, complete with an infrastructure that ensured ample facilities for the crew, clients, and talent.

Investing in the latest technology was a commitment both Hakesley and Kimani felt strongly about “As a business, we’ve consistently embraced innovation. The same happened with virtual production. After witnessing the potential of the technology when it was used on Mandalorian, we wholeheartedly immersed ourselves in it,” says Kimani.

“Virtual production is revolutionising the creative and storytelling landscape, and we consider ourselves fortunate to be among its pioneers,” adds Hakesley. “We work extensively in the commercial advertising market, where we’ve achieved success by collaborating with clients and bringing their visions to life, we have also ventured into feature films. Currently, we are eagerly anticipating the launch of our latest project, which is a sci-fi short.”

The studio comprises a 10.5m by 5.5m LED volume made up of Unilumin LED panels, powered by one 4K Tessera SX40 LED processor, and supported by three Tessera 10G data distribution units. Other technologies include Mo-Sys camera tracking. The team also utilises Unreal Engine to assist in creating photo-realistic virtual environments.

Discussing the use of Brompton Technology, both say it was the best choice for LED processing.

“The question we had to ask ourselves was, do we want to utilise something that has proven to work reliably, and also has a workforce and talent pool that understands the system?” says Hakesley. “When you’re working with LED techs, they all have experience using Brompton LED processing. That makes things a lot easier. Also, the Tessera software provides a myriad of useful features and, ultimately, serves as our control point. Everything we do originates from there. DOPs want assurance that they have control over the colour and the brightness, and if they want to change it, it has to be in seconds. Tessera offers a brilliant and simple interface!”

Brompton’s reliability is also key. “If the client hires talent for four hours, there can’t be any hold ups, so the technology has to work perfectly. Downtime in virtual production translates to financial losses, damaged reputation, and loss of confidence. Having robust hardware and software is essential, and Brompton exemplifies that level of reliability,” Hakesley continues.

Hakesley and Kimani emphasise that VP is an ever-evolving discipline where one never stops learning. “Every time you’re in the volume, you’re going to learn something new – the rules are still being written. Some of the most exciting productions we had last year involved marrying physical and virtual sets. Once you nail the set design element to the virtual environment, all of a sudden, you’ve got this amazing set that would be unaffordable to build if all the elements were real,” explains Kimani.

An obvious benefit of virtual production is its single-site, multi-location shooting experience that results in sustainability and a reduced carbon footprint, but there is also significantly reduced post-production time. Hakesley adds that it also provides a sense of control that appeals to their clientele.

“There is still reticence about the technology, so it’s our responsibility to demonstrate that what they require is very achievable, and VP is the most effective way to do it,” he says. “There are also forward-thinking producers and creatives pioneering the technology, much of which is driven by DOPs and directors.”

As a member of the UK Advertising Exports Group, the CUBE Studio team is currently part of their cohort at SXSW and the Cannes Lions Festival. They are also scheduled to exhibit at the NAB Show in Las Vegas in April. Additionally, as part of a ‘Grow London’ delegation comprising eight companies, including Brompton Technology, CUBE Studio visited India on a trade mission to meet some of the country’s leading film studios and VFX houses. “It was a dynamic week delving into the creative, technology, VFX, and studio ecosystem, connecting with key players and businesses across the region. India’s status as the world’s fastest-growing economy is evident, with a palpable sense of anticipation for what lies ahead. The enthusiasm for collaboration was contagious, and we’re eager to nurture these partnerships further,” adds Hakesley.

Apart from shooting at their permanently installed CUBE Studio facility in Maidenhead, the team has also undertaken mobile work, deploying the VP setup on the road, with a recent example including action-thriller feature film, Cleaner, starring Daisy Ridley directed by James Bond director, Martin Campbell, which is scheduled for release early 2025.

“The last time we worked on a feature film, we had eight LED techs in the space of four weeks,” continues Hakesley. “Every single one of them had experience using Brompton. This demonstrates that, despite being from various backgrounds such as theatre, entertainment, film and TV, commercials, and advertising, they were all accustomed to the high level of LED processing that Brompton Technology is known for. This is crucial for us and when we use a product with a solid reputation that is also widely recognised, it simplifies our job!”

“Future-proof technology is something that both we and CUBE Studio feel very strongly about, which is why this collaboration has worked so well,” concludes Patrick Goodden, Technical Sales Manager UK and Ireland at Brompton Technology. “Our commitment to serving our customers with innovative and reliable LED processing solutions, coupled with our industry-renowned 24/7 tech support, means we can support forward-thinking companies like CUBE Studio and help them bring their clients’ visions to life.”

Image credit: CUBE Studios

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