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Bron Launches Virtual Production Division to Power ‘Unreal’ Animation

VFX vet Jason Chen will oversee Bron Digital's virtual production workflow with Unreal for stylized motion-capture-based content.

“The Willoughbys”

Netflix

Animation

Vancouver-based Bron Media Corp. (“Greyhound”) has launched Bron Digital, a new virtual production division that will marry its traditional CG-animation with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine-centered workflow. Visual Effects industry vet Jason Chen (“Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens”) will serve as head of Digital.

Bron Digital’s first project will be the animated series, “Fables,” based on the timeless teachings of “Aesop’s Fables,” but with a modern twist. The eight-episode series is created by Kevin Turen (“Euphoria”), directed by Azazel Jacobs (“The Lovers”), and production designed by Oscar nominee Ra Vincent (Jojo Rabbit”). Three additional original animated series and digital film productions are scheduled to begin this summer.

With the pandemic hastening Bron’s live-action production and pushing back its theatrical slate (“Candyman,” “The Green Knight,” “Fatherhood,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Respect”), the company needed to diversify its animation business. It turned to financial partner Creative Wealth Media for additional revenue to launch the new virtual production division.

“We needed to shift,” said Bron CEO Aaron L. Gilbert. “Animation has been the only area of Bron capable of being in production during this pandemic as our production team is set up remotely. We feel fortunate to be working through the logistics of scaling this area of our company during these difficult times.” Bron’s most recent animated feature is the Netflix co-production, “The Willoughbys.”

“Greyhound”

Apple TV+

Virtual production, meanwhile, has stepped up during the pandemic, and Unreal has been at the forefront with its real-time engine for virtual location scouting and world building (partnering with Industrial Light & Magic on its game-changing StageCraft platform for Jon Favreau’s “The Mandalorian”). And, with next year’s release of Unreal Engine 5 (touting the fully dynamic global illumination solution called Lumen), they will achieve even greater photorealism.

“With an increasing demand for quality content, virtual production workflows powered by Unreal are helping companies like Bron meet these demands while delivering the quality that they are known for,” said Miles Perkins, head of business development, Unreal Engine Film & Television.

“At this point, we are focusing more on stylized motion capture-based content,” Chen told IndieWire. “We are using a similar multi-user virtual production workflow used on ‘The Lion King.’ However, we are doing all our scouting, and virtual cameras remotely with teams across the globe, using Unreal as our virtual volume.”

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