Saturday, May 14, 2022

A Look at the Massive Stage Netflix Is Filming Their 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Live-Action Series

The soundstage in Metro Vancouver where Netflix is currently filming the streamer's live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender adaptation is the world’s largest LED video wall film production studio, according to a recent declaration by Guinness World Records!

William F. White International’s LED video wall film production stage at Canada Motion Picture Park in South Burnaby. (WFW)

The LED sound stage located at Canadian Motion Picture Park is a joint partnership between Los Angeles-based visual effects company Pixomondo and Canadian film equipment rental firm William F. White International (WFW).

The Burnaby facility spans 22,000 sq ft, measuring 80 ft by 27.5 ft, and is lined with 2,500 LED wall panels and 760 LED ceiling panels. The video wall was constructed in the shape of an almost fully enclosed circle to provide productions with 310 degrees of LED screens.

“WFW is deeply committed to virtual production as an integral part of the future of filmmaking and we are delighted to be in the Guinness World Records,” said Edward Hanrahan, WFW’s director of virtual production, in a statement to Daily Hive Urbanized.

William F. White International's LED video wall film production stage at Canada Motion Picture Park in South Burnaby. (WFW)

“Along with our traditional studio offerings, virtual production allows filmmakers to combine live-action and cutting-edge digitally created environments rendered in real-time on LED walls and ceilings (known as ‘volumes’) to deliver a production experience unlike any other.”

William F. White International’s LED video wall film production stage at Canada Motion Picture Park in South Burnaby. (WFW)

The accelerating use of bright LED screen walls by the global film and television production industry provides a virtual live background for scenes during filming, replacing much of the need for green screens and the associated post-production work.

With powerful computers, a photorealistic three-dimensional background scene is generated, and the scene’s perspective follows the camera’s movements.

The large-format use of these LED screens also dramatically reduces production costs, improves efficiencies, reduces time by speeding up the shooting process, and even provides realistic lighting that can be easily adjusted as needed.

Green screens, in contrast, are static and provide little flexibility, with positioning changes for lighting and cameras requiring time-intensive work. As well, lighting bouncing off the screens gives off green reflections, necessitating colouring to be changed in post-production.

The LED system’s live background also has the added benefit of helping actors get into character, which can be challenging with green screens.

The WFW stage in Burnaby is currently filming Netflix’s live-action version of Nickelodeon’s animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender. In 2020, Netflix reached an agreement with Canada Motion Picture Park to enter into a long-term lease to use about 178,000 sq ft of its production facilities, including seven sound stages, and office and support spaces, effectively turning the location into one of their global production hubs.

“The state of the art stage, designed and operated by Pixomondo (PXO) Virtual Production, is 84 feet across and 28 feet high with 23,000 square feet of stage space and more than 3000 LED Panels, making it one of the biggest virtual production volumes in North America,” said Netflix last year.

According to the streaming service, “The virtual production stage which allows for visual effects to be done in real time in camera, combining multiple environments on a single stage, will set a new standard for immersive storytelling.”

“We’re thrilled to start production on this incredible project, and we’re especially excited to work with the technology-benders at PXO to create the wondrous world of Avatar: The Last Airbender using the most advanced techniques available to filmmakers anywhere in the world,” Avatar: The Last Airbender showrunner Albert Kim said in a statement in November 2021.

Pixomondo and WFW have together spent US$30 million for their initial three LED video wall stage facilities in Canada, including two locations in Toronto. Additional facilities are expected in Canada in 2022.

This technology is perhaps best known for its use on The Mandalorian on Disney+, which used Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic’s (ILM) StageCraft LED virtual production system. ILM is also bringing its StageCraft LED system to a studio in Metro Vancouver this year.

By early 2023, there will be three LED video wall studios in Metro Vancouver, with Versatile Media opening a 43,000-sq-ft facility in South Burnaby.

Stream Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra on Paramount+ and Netflix! Try Paramount+ for FREE at

Listen to the brand new podcast, Avatar: Braving the Elements!

Originally published: May 14, 2022.

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