TAMPA — Headquartered out of a Tampa production facility, Vū Technologies has branches in Nashville, Las Vegas and Orlando.
Each has a wraparound LED screen to create virtual locations.
They don’t have such a studio in Los Angeles. Regardless, they’ve gone Hollywood.
In August, “Sympathy for the Devil,” a new movie starring Nicolas Cage and Joel Kinnaman, was filmed in Vū's Las Vegas studio.
Vū has produced commercials for WWE, Mercedes-Benz and the Tampa Bay Lightning, as well as a music video for Carrie Underwood. They worked with Tom Cruise for a spot for CBS Sports.
This was the first feature film Vū helped produce.
Vū expects Hollywood productions to work with them more. That includes using their Tampa facility inside the former University Mall, now Rithm at Uptown.
“Our Tampa studio is a great option,” said Brad Meriwether, chief marketing officer for Vū. “Hollywood is realizing the potential of virtual studios.”
“Sympathy for the Devil,” according to IMDB.com, follows a man forced to drive a mysterious passenger at gunpoint. The driver then “finds himself in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse where it becomes clear that not everything is as it seems.”
Around half the movie was filmed in the Las Vegas studio operated by Vū, which spun off from Emmy-winning Tampa video production company Diamond View Studios.
“Most of what they shot were driving scenes,” Meriwether said. “Our LED screen represented hundreds of backgrounds.”
The LED screens digitize a virtual image in high resolution in real time as the scene is shot, allowing the actors and crew to interact with the environment as though it is authentic.
It’s the same technology that Lucasfilm uses for their Star Wars streaming series.
For “Sympathy for the Devil,” a car was placed in the studio and the virtual images were the locations being driven.
The movie shot eight to 10 script pages a day, Meriwether said, double what could have been shot on location.
“We wouldn’t be able to do this film without this amazing LED setup in this short of time,” the film’s director, Yuval Adler, said in a prepared statement.
“This studio is gorgeous. It’s state-of-the-art,” said Cage, also in a prepared statement.
Vū's only space was once a 10,000-square-foot production facility in Lutz. They invested in an LED screen and expanded to a 30,000-square-foot studio in Rithm at Uptown.
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From there, they opened studios in Orlando, Nashville and Las Vegas, which at 40,000 square feet is their largest and includes two sound stages and a cafeteria.
“Our vision is to become the world’s largest virtual studio network,” Meriwether said. “We believe it is the next thing in video production.”