Choosing a CYC stage or Virtual Studio – when is it a clear-cut choice?

Ok, there is a lot of hype around virtual production and even if you haven’t yet considered it seriously, it’s probably come up as an enigmatic hybrid alternative to shooting in a classic CYC wall studio.

Chances are, if you are considering a movie studio space rental in Brooklyn, you are probably thinking of bringing in your talent and crew for a shoot that will take place in its entirety on the premises.

But what if your director of photography sits in California, your talent is in Brooklyn, and your VFX are being handled in Paris? What if the physical dimensions of a CYC stage just aren’t enough for the type of shoot you are imagining? Will finding a CYC wall studio for rent suffice?

Rewind to 2009 – the year Avatar hit the screen and the world was abuzz with the potential of virtual production. James Cameron was a pioneer and numerous large-scale Hollywood productions have since employed VFX-driven production pipelines. Virtual productions are no passing fad. In fact, their global market size is expected to surpass the $4.5 B mark by the end of the decade, doped by the logistic limitations productions are facing due to the recent global pandemic.

But the computer didn’t kill the TV, and virtual production is not threatening the traditional green screen, it’s simply broadening the offering in a market that is mushrooming. According to its recently published Digital Media Trends Survey, Deloitte points its finger to the proliferation of original content creators and the sheer volume of original content, as the principal driver of the serious shortage in physical production space in the big apple.

Let’s look at a few notable differences between a traditional cyclorama studio rental in Brooklyn and a virtual studio, well, anywhere.


CYC at Samson Hicks
Vitual Production Facility

Price. Traditional CYC wall studios are dramatically less expensive. Production quality LED volumes are extremely expensive to install, cable, control and maintain. Their rental is consequently far more onerous as well. And that’s before you consider customization. Add to that the team of professionals needed to operate them, and downtime is so expensive it will make you twitch. There is certainly a hope that in years to come, some of the associated costs of virtual productions will be liberalized.

Immersion. The main advantage of visual productions can be felt on set. The talent simply has what to react to whereas the CYC stage leaves everything to the imagination. This is particularly notable in productions involving environments that are difficult for the talent to wrap its mind around. The visual triggers produced by the LED projection immerse the talent and crew in the scene and light emanating from the screen interacts directly with the scene and captured in camera. Virtual production is roughly analogous to the passage from film development to the instant gratification of digital cameras, allow the DP to get a look at the rough composite right on set.

Balance & logistics. The crew necessary for a production may change depending on the production type. Choosing virtual production may mean more VFX crew members than green screen productions for example. And your team simply needs to understand the complexity of, and feel at ease in the virtual environment if that is your choice. 

It all comes down to the type of production you are envisioning, the look-and-feel of the set, and personal preference of the creatives who will be bringing your story to life. If you are looking for a CYC wall studio for rent in Brooklyn, Samson Stages is the level2 qualified facility of choice for a growing community of amazing talents, production houses and brands. And if you are new to Samson, we will be delighted to show you around our CYC stage in Brooklyn.