1899 Wraps Innovative Virtual Production

The forthcoming period suspense drama employed unique “turntable” volume stage built for Dark Bay Virtual Production Stage at Studio Babelsberg.

Noah Kadner

The forthcoming period suspense drama employed unique “turntable” volume stage built for Dark Bay Virtual Production Stage ​at Studio Babelsberg.
At top, setting an angle on actor Andreas Pietschmann.

Photos by Alex Forge for Netflix

The Netflix mystery series 1899 is set on a migrant steamship on the high seas and recently wrapped production in Germany. Writer/producer Jantje Friese and producer/director Baran bo Odar created the show with collaborators including director of photography Nikolaus Summerer, production designer Udo Kramer, and producer Philipp Klausing.

Shooting a scene in the Dark Bay Virtual Production Stage at Studio Babelsberg.

A follow-up to Dark, their successful previous production for the streamer, 1899 was initially conceived as a lavish location production with oceangoing vessels at sea. But the Covid-19 pandemic forced the producers to get creative to keep their ship afloat. 

Inspired by the LED volume virtual production workflows pioneered on the Disney Plus show The Mandalorian, the team pivoted to reconceptualizing the show to be shot entirely on a massive LED volume built at Studio Babelsberg, located outside of Berlin. Among the innovations built into the Dark Bay Virtual Production Stage was a gigantic turntable on which the show’s modular sets were placed and oriented within the volume. This approach permitted the crew to move rapidly through complex coverage and turnarounds complete with virtual oceans and actual rainfall.

Cinematographer Nikolaus Summerer

In addition to these exclusive photos are two videos from the production at Dark Bay, including the construction of the facility:

AC also had the honor of participating in its first-ever virtual set visit and experienced many of the innovative virtual production workflows the team deployed. 

1899 is slated for release in 2022, and AC will offer in-depth coverage of this global production as the date approaches. 

You’ll find additional coverage on virtual production and LED volume work here, here, here, here and here. AC will continue its reporting on this rapidly evolving technology and it creative use.

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