NEP Group has launched a new virtual production business segment, to be called NEP Virtual Studios, bringing on board industry leaders in real-time production with the acquisition of Prysm Collective, Lux Machina and Halon Entertainment.

As part of this new venture, NEP welcomes a group of experts, including entertainment industry veteran Cliff Plumer, to lead this new segment. Jeff Ruggels joins as SVP of finance and operations, Phil Galler and Zach Alexander are co-presidents of the Lux Machina NEP Business Unit, and Daniel Gregoire and Chris Ferriter are executive creative director and president, respectively, of the Halon NEP Business Unit.

Virtual production processes enable directors and creative staff to ‘see’ an entire scene complete with visual effects and CG enhancements live on set, and to restage, revise digital sets, make lighting changes, adjust camera angles and more on the spot. This ability to iterate shots interactively has transformed the way movies and shows are made, speeding-up collaboration and production and opening new creative options and solutions, all while reducing costs and often even the carbon footprint by cutting travel and physical set construction.


Cliff Plumer will lead NEP Virtual Studios

At the same time NEP was targeting opportunities to expand its existing virtual production business, Plumer was building a coalition of creative production and technology specialists to deliver a streamlined virtual production solution. Prysm Collective partnered with Lux Machina and visualisation leader Halon Entertainment in that effort, and by now joining forces with NEP, it enables an accelerated path to realising both the NEP and Prysm strategic visions within the industry and across the globe.

“The vision for NEP Virtual Studios is the same as we have for our Broadcast Services and Live Events businesses: to be the world leader in helping clients and creators bring their content to life,” said Brian Sullivan, CEO, NEP Group. “When we first started talking to Prysm Collective we were amazed at how closely they were aligned with one of NEP’s newest strategic objectives of building out the leading global virtual production business. It was clear that joining forces would accelerate the path forward for NEP, Prysm, Lux Machina and Halon together.”

Plumer has more than 30 years of experience on the cutting edge of entertainment technology. He has served as CEO of visual effects studio Digital Domain and as CTO of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic. He also served as president of Jaunt Studios and CEO of The Void and has contributed to more than 100 Hollywood feature films and television series, including the Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers franchises.

“I was looking for a partner to help scale the vision for Prysm Collective, and could not have found a more ideal match than NEP. One of the biggest hurdles to accelerating growth in the virtual production sector is that demand, both for stages and the hardware required to build them, is far exceeding supply, and joining forces with NEP gives us immediate access to a massive footprint and one of the strongest global production teams and set of resources in the industry,” said Plumer.

Prysm Collective, Lux Machina, Halon Entertainment and NEP all share significant experience with Unreal Engine integration. Prysm Collective is an Epic MegaGrant recipient for development of virtual production cloud workflows; Lux Machina has built multiple LED stages for Epic Games, consulting closely with Unreal Engine developers on new virtual production features; Halon is one of the earliest adopters of Unreal Engine for real-time film and television content creation; and NEP has been using Unreal Engine to service broadcast clients with real-time graphics for several years.

“This unification of awesome technical and creative talent is a testament to real-time technology’s essential role in the future of film and television production. The teams coming together today have been at the forefront of Unreal Engine storytelling for broadcast, movies and immersive experiences, and we look forward to seeing what they will create,” said Kim Libreri, CTO, Epic Games.

Lux Machina develops and engineers technical video solutions for film and TV, broadcast, live events and permanent installations. It specialises in virtual production, in-camera visual effects, display technologies and creative screen control solutions.

“Since building the earliest LED stages that drove widespread industry adoption of virtual production in entertainment, we have been swimming upstream to meet the demand for the talent and technology that our team delivers in this space. This deal will allow us to scale globally and innovate new software and solutions to streamline virtual production with the industry’s most influential players by our side. We have worked with NEP for many years and are excited to have access to their breadth of technical and creative resources,” said Galler.

Halon Entertainment is a full-service visualisation company offering animation, design services, virtual art department, real-time solutions and project management systems to help clients bring their creative visions to screen. Working with major content owners, creators and VFX houses, Halon has contributed real time visualisation to productions such as The Mandalorian: Season 1, The Batman, Suicide Squad and many other game, film and television productions.

“As one of the first creative companies to specialise in visualisation for film, TV and games, we were well-positioned to make the leap into real time workflows,” explained Gregoire. “Our work in virtual production and providing virtual art department services has exploded in the past two years. Partnering with Lux, Prysm, and joining the NEP family is incredibly exciting and we look forward to helping define how the next generation of content creation will evolve.”