We have a brand NEW Mo-Sys system

And we are ready to share.

In case you aren’t familiar… Mo-Sys is an award-winning, world-renowned maker of virtual production solutions. We’ve been watching them VERY closely, and have been headed down the virtual path with them for a while now. We have been learning with the Mo-Sys guys at NAB, Cinegear, and their laboratory in LA. Its now in our hot little hands, and ready for you.

Where is this Mo-sys we have?

The answer is: in our clutches, and anywhere you want it to be. You can come to our stage to use it, or we can come to you – on location or in any studio. Even in Brooklyn. We don’t judge.

Did you ask why?

Because it’s cost effective, and makes your life easier. And the rest of the production world has caught on, and knows its true. It’s ONE state of the art system that works for BOTH a green-screen AND LED application. Virtual production means no travel costs, no location fees, no set construction costs or waste—just unrestricted camera movement, amazing production value and complete creative freedom.

The badass hardware.

The design and form factor is tidy and impressive; the operating system is extremely well designed; and in most cases, it obviates the need for the sometimes problematic ‘Brain Bar’. Cobalt’s NEW virtual production solution enables a wide range of implementation options, from simple camera tracking metadata (used in post), to full up ‘final pixel’ 4K composites, and everything else in between. You really can’t ask for more than that. It is impressive, and is now the Industry standard.

The future of film is virtual.
Virtual is NOW.

Want to composite your high res 4K Live Action into dynamic, photorealistic Unreal environments with precision camera tracking, while shooting? It’s an end-to-end virtual production solution that can combine pre-viz, production, and post. Now clients can choose the workflow that’s perfect for their virtual project. Yes, color correction and compositing can be done onset while shooting. The world of filmmaking has exploded into the virtual realm, and is in Cobalt’s hands, once again.

Learn about Virtual Production
and how to use it?

Cobalt’s got you covered. As the first company to offer Virtual Sets on the East Coast, we have the experience to guide you. Let’s have some fun 😉

ASK US ABOUT VIRTUAL

Need Production
solutions and support?

THAT'S EASY - CALL US

Proud to announce "The Mission"!

Proud to announce “The Mission”!

Cobalt is proud to announce our latest success with “The Mission” for our LA Agency client. The results are in, and they speak for themselves. Res ipsa. The clients love the spots; the reviews are all superb; and sales are up, WAY up.  Team Cobalt and co-directing team, Alex Fernbach & Kara Vedder, produced a heartfelt dramatic ‘short’ / commercial featuring a first-time 6 year old actress on a location shoot in California. While Alex created different ‘location looks’ and times of day from a single residence, Kara had fun coaxing a genuine, impishly natural performance from the 6 year old little girl 🙂  Let us know if you like it, or if you saw it when it aired this holiday season 💕

Learn about Virtual Production
and how to use it?

Cobalt’s got you covered. As the first company to offer Virtual Sets on the East Coast, we have the experience to guide you. Let’s have some fun 😉

ASK US ABOUT VIRTUAL

Need Production
solutions and support?

THAT'S EASY - CALL US

It's kind of a big deal.

Science in the Service of Art.

And when we bring our laboratory to you…this is what it looks like. Our digital, mechanical, hydraulic and robotic production capabilities extend far beyond any we’ve encountered before. With our decades of experience to guide you and our comprehensive inventory of tools and technology, we can help produce for practically any purpose. From a simple product display to programmable robotics, we’re here to help you, quite simply, elevate your image 😉

On Location with Khaite.

Big challenges are usually pretty obvious—but small challenges tend to emerge at the last moment. Cobalt layers in safety nets to ensure that doesn’t happen to you. When you work with us, we ask lots of follow up questions about your production needs because we have the experience to anticipate some of the problems before they happen. Then, when you’re on set, we have a wealth of rigging tools, so if a problem emerges, there’s often a solution, just waiting to be assembled. For example, just 2 weeks ago… The Khaite runway project asked us to program the articulation of a 120LB light, in sync with music cues and other lighting effects. For the 14 minute long move, along a 60 foot track, our Gazelle did a little diddy while the infamous Khaite and 50 of her top-model peers purposed around it.

On Location with Khaite.

Whether it’s getting the camera precisely perpendicular to a product, or keeping an outdoor motion control rig from sinking into the sod, working with us enables your one-of-a-kind production problems to be solved faster, cheaper, easier and better. We’ve invested heavily in versatile, professional rigging gear. For instance, the Berkey system… an erector set for rig building… With our extensive Berkey inventory at Cobalt, you can custom-configure rigs on the fly to create your ideal solution quickly. But that’s not all. In addition to having great rigging gear to support your production needs, we also stock generous quantities of expendables—the tape, the plexiglass and all the odds and ends that, with some ingenuity, can get your production back on track without wasting time.

Speaking of time…

When we talk about motion control and rigging, you might picture a robotic camera crane. Well, that’s part of it… but, in precision camera work, your frame-accurate timing is just as essential as your camera movement. One shoot’s concept: a model walking onstage with the camera following her, and while she walks, her wardrobe changes—feels conceptually simple, right? Tape marked the floor so she knew where to step, but that only solved for space, not time. So how do you ensure that your talent is in the right place at the right time?? In this scenario, we offered a solution through our motion control operating system. It was a bell, rigged to a digital/ analog converter, programmed to ring at ½ second intervals that enabled the model to replicate the identical cadence. The effect was a success. We have a number of interfaces that enable synchronicity. So, go ahead and choreograph a chorus line of runway models! We’re well-equipped to help you work your magic.

Learn about Virtual Production
and how to use it?

Cobalt’s got you covered. As the first company to offer Virtual Sets on the East Coast, we have the experience to guide you. Let’s have some fun 😉

ASK US ABOUT VIRTUAL

Need Production
solutions and support?

THAT'S EASY - CALL US

Happy Holidays from Cobalt!

Dear Friends,

Thank you for sharing your amazing talents with us this year, it’s been a joy and a privilege! We wish you a holiday season filled with glorious downtime, inner peace, and getting in touch with what matters most.

We’ll see you on the other side of 2022,
centered and refreshed!

Warmly,


What is Virtual Production and Why Would I Use It?

For decades, we’ve been shooting talent and products on green, and adding photo-realistic 3D graphics in post-production to finalize the shot. This is the foundation of a visual effects shot (VFX). It was (and still is) very much a two-stage process… Virtual production in most cases makes this a one-step process, by enabling the VFX shot to be captured on set, in camera, and in real-time. Virtual production saves time, money, and is much more efficient. But it does require more preparation.

The enablers…

The “enablers” for virtual production are real-time photo-realistic graphics engines (like Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, or Unity’s 3D engine) coupled with precision camera/lens tracking. Using these technologies means that we can put talent or products into any photo-realistic environment we like, whenever we like, and even change the environment at a push of a button.

How costs are cut.

Here’s the bottom line. Content Creators, both big and small, are always looking for ways to reduce cost and maximize efficiency.

Flying across the globe to different sets for numerous locations, and using crazy resources (as well as a large roster of talent) is no longer cutting it. Producers, kiss those days away. Seriously.

With Virtual Set tech, we’re now able to immerse talent in previously impossible environments or environments that would have been very expensive to build with physical sets. Now, we can achieve this in a highly seamless fashion, in a very cost effective way.

Bye-bye physics.

No longer tied to the laws of physics, you don’t have to chase that golden hour any longer… You can harness the golden hour all day long if you like. Ahhhhh… Yes, “weather days” are truly a thing of the past.

As the Coast Guard said to the ship’s Captain…
VADA A BORDO CAZZO!

Learn about Virtual Production
and how to use it?

Cobalt’s got you covered. As the first company to offer Virtual Sets on the East Coast, we have the experience to guide you. Let’s have some fun 😉

ASK US ABOUT VIRTUAL

Need Production
solutions and support?

THAT'S EASY - CALL US

Virtual production is NOT expensive

With any cutting-edge tech in film, there’s an expectation that it will initially be the preserve of big-budget Hollywood blockbusters. In the case of virtual production, this is a misconception further cemented by the ubiquity of examples such as The Mandalorian and 2019’s The Lion King.

Reordering your pipeline to save massively in post.

While it’s true that virtual production is widely used in Hollywood, its usefulness doesn’t end there. In reality, the technology offers cost savings which will appeal to any production team! Think of it as a re-ordering of the overall production process; your 3D computer graphic assets are now prepared in full quality in pre-production, and your post-production compositing is the shoot itself. The saving is the reduced post-production time and the removal of on-set errors.

Earlier, easier, safer creative decisions.

Also, the ability to make creative decisions earlier on in the process, will result in cleaner takes given that actors are present while those calls are being made, as opposed to fixing costly errors in post (or, even more inconveniently, with re-shoots). On top of that, virtual scouting eliminates the cost of travel and indeed our carbon footprints.

AGAIN: Saving time and saving money.

The true magic of virtual production, however, lies in the fact that it is not a cheap substitute for ‘the real thing’ – it is simply an alternative. As a 2020 report from Deloitte noted, “Hollywood may be reaching the limits of efficiency using the traditional production methodology. The mindset and toolset of virtual production can support not only better creative outcomes, but also potentially significant time and cost savings.”

And in this instance, what’s true for Hollywood is true for the rest of the industry, too. It’s certainly been true for us at Cobalt 🙂

Learn about Virtual Production
and how to use it?

Cobalt’s got you covered. As the first company to offer Virtual Sets on the East Coast, we have the experience to guide you. Let’s have some fun 😉

ASK US ABOUT VIRTUAL

Need Production
solutions and support?

THAT'S EASY - CALL US

What every producer should know about virtual production.

Learning about Virtual Sets and using them whenever possible is a step all producers can take to reduce costs, creative compromises, carbon emissions, and solid waste. Want to sell your clients on this money-saving, planet-saving option? We can help. When we created the East Coast’s first Virtual Backlot, we promised to provide the Tri-State production community with the proper guidance to use it. Here are some of the things you should know.

Upgrade your sets for less.

Virtual Sets deliver a degree of detail that would be wildly expensive to create with practical sets. And that rich, convincing, VSet detail costs less than a practical set, too! For example, a typical low-cost office set consists of backlit blinds on the windows and a modest assortment of Ikea furniture. The virtual version, on the other hand, can show a view out the window that’s appropriate to the location, season, and time of day. Picture this— walls and shelves decked out with binders, awards, and books… Workstations loaded with computers, staplers, lamps, papers, phones, family photos, and coffee cups… without ever prop shopping. And as a bonus, ensurance that set continuity becomes a non-issue, too.

Sustainable sets made simple.

The Industry is just starting to acknowledge the immense toll practical sets wreak on the environment. Part of the problem is their inherent transience. But when we dig a little deeper, the problem is more nuanced. Take luan, for example. This lightweight plywood is a popular set-building material because it’s easy to move around. Luan is harvested from rainforests and is “a massive source of deforestation” according to Hollywood’s sustainability consultant, Emille O’Brien. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Virtual Sets eliminate solid wastes, altogether, and create a minuscule carbon footprint. Because Virtual Sets are inexpensive and easy to use, there’s often no good reason not to.

Shoot anywhere in the universe.

Virtual Sets can enhance your production beyond budget constraints and environmental impact, too. With the infinite creative possibilities they offer, VSets are nothing short of revolutionary. With our Virtual Backlot, you can shoot in remote or even imaginary locations— the rainforest, a plane, or another planet—and you’re never more than 15 minutes from Midtown! Vast, photorealistic environments like “Black Panther’s” Wakanda are now possible. How do you think they created six virtual miles of futuristic cityscape and 60,000 individual buildings…? Answer: Virtual Set.

Our Virtual Set experts can set you up with everything you need to incorporate this valuable tool into YOUR methodology.

Let’s talk.

Learn about Virtual Production
and how to use it?

Cobalt’s got you covered. As the first company to offer Virtual Sets on the East Coast, we have the experience to guide you. Let’s have some fun 😉

ASK US ABOUT VIRTUAL

Need Production
solutions and support?

THAT'S EASY - CALL US

Why I made friends with robots.

Why I made friends with robots.

We know that Motion Control can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Today’s MoCo technology is easier than ever to master. Let me show you how MoCo makes precision moves manageable, so getting the shot can be fast, cost-effective and maybe even ‘good times’.

MoCo is about the mindset.

As a Cinematographer, DP, and Effects Supervisor, I’ve come to rely on non-linear problem solving to arrive at the simplest and most cost-effective solutions. Start with the shot you want to create, then ‘zoom out,’ breaking it down into smaller, more manageable components. Next, envision how they all fit together. When you ‘zoom out’ this way, it’s easier to see all the facets of a single shot, and you open the door to ‘eureka moments’. For example, what looks like a complex camera-moving problem can often be reimagined, and you’ll discover that it’s simpler to move the object, instead.

Get the story behind the shot.

Getting the backstory helps you process the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind great Motion Control executions. That’s always more valuable than just knowing ‘what’ was done. One side-by-side, time-lapse product shot demanded a novel solution… It started with two hand models smearing deodorant sticks on a sheet of sandpaper. Then came the 2-3 hours of time-lapse to show off the product’s performance. Because of the time-lapse, we wouldn’t know if we had a good take for hours. We also had to repeat this demo with several competitors’ products. We were severely crunched for time, but MoCo came to the rescue! We build 3 sandpaper cubes, then wrote a simple Motion Control move to turn the cubes from facet to facet. This way, we were able to shoot 12 takes at a time instead of one. In record time, our delighted client got about 50 takes to choose from! Now, any time you run into a similar problem, you’ll have a sense of how MoCo can help solve it.

Find a right-sized solution.

When you ‘zoom out’ and see the big picture, a shot that looks complex on the surface might be achievable with an absurdly simple solution. One commercial product job required oversized pills to roll out of a shot, revealing the ‘hero product’ in the background. The producer first came to us with an elements list a mile long. He envisioned the pills being actuated by arms from above, but given the production time it would have taken to shoot all the picture and matte passes, this would have been a herculean task. (Not to mention all the rig removal and reflection restoration)… The right-sized Motion Control solution was inexpensive and far from complicated. We put the pills on tiny sleds with a magnet, then ran a magnetic rig under the table to move them. Our magnetic rigging was invisible, the effect was in-camera, and the solution created ZERO post-production ramifications. Again, great success!

Don’t be afraid to ‘retro-tech.’

So, as you can see, being clever and inventive is infinitely more important than just having the latest gadget! I’ll tell you one more story about seeing things differently. On another shoot, we had a challenging water shot to pull off. We needed a high-speed macro shot of a pebble falling into the water, making a crown-shaped splash, but without seeing the stone. In linear thinking, one might say we have to hide the pebble somehow. By breaking it down and seeing all the angles, I was able to devise a simple solution. We cut a hole in the bottom of a shallow tank, stretched some latex across the gap, and connected a motion-controlled motor to push and pull the center of the latex creating a beautiful ‘crown effect’ without the pebble.

Lastly, get good advice.

I can’t imagine any aspect of cinema requiring a more ‘consultative’ approach than Motion Control. When you hire a motion control company, you should be getting some solid advice as to how best to achieve the desired shot. Work with a supplier who spends some quality time with you discussing the nuances of the shoot, planning out the schedule, resource allocation, and system redundancies. This sort of service and support helps your production to contain costs and deliver uncompromised creative work.
The takeaway.

Motion Control is a unique blend of analytical problem-solving and out-of-the-box creativity. Get your mind around big shots by breaking them down into smaller components; tailor the solution to the problem; and seek out the best advice you can get. You’ll be amazed at how this ‘Big Picture’ approach can help make your MoCo projects manageable, and even fun!

About Alex Fernbach.

Alex Fernbach is a Director and Cinematographer who’s worked on TV commercials for some of the world’s most iconic brands, as well as feature films, television documentaries, short films and trailers. He is an industry-renowned thought leader, having appeared as a featured speaker at major universities, film festivals and industry events.

Alex is an innovator at the forefront of Motion Control Technology and in-camera Visual Effects. The pursuit of this passion led him to design and invent the 1st Array Camera in the US, which he sold to ‘The Matrix’, producing the legendary ‘bullet time’ effect and revolutionizing cinema.

Alex is also the co-owner of Cobalt Stages, along with his lovely partner, Kara Vedder.

Learn about Virtual Production
and how to use it?

Cobalt’s got you covered. As the first company to offer Virtual Sets on the East Coast, we have the experience to guide you. Let’s have some fun 😉

ASK US ABOUT VIRTUAL

Need Production
solutions and support?

THAT'S EASY - CALL US

Making high-speed movie magic?

Cobalt’s high-tech solutions are ready to roll.

High-speed camera work demands critical synchronization of events which is virtually impossible to do manually. Luckily, we’re in the business of designing innovative technological solutions to meet all your production needs.

Cobalt’s Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)

Alex, our resident tech guru, designed and engineered a digital interface to synchronize the camera, camera mover, all your rigs, cuing, EVERYTHING to precisely coordinate each and every component for critically choreographed shots. (Shout out to Stage Manager Luke, who serves as our in-house Ladder Logic programmer. He spearheaded the whole system setup from engineering, wiring, to programming!)

The device triggers actions in a specified sequence and with millisecond precision to keep events on cue during high-speed camerawork. This is essential for high-speed shots because, as Alex put it, “You can have a high-speed camera mover, but you have to focus on something. If you can’t trigger the event, the subject might not be there when the camera gets there. So, for example, if you want to shoot a person falling with the shot starting wide and ending on an ECU (to show the grimace on his face), critical timing is key.”

Why Millisecond Accuracy Matters

With tools like Phantom high-speed cameras being more in-demand than ever, productions also require accessories to use the technology successfully. While the camera is moving fast, timing becomes vastly more important. When you’re shooting at normal speed, a fraction of a second doesn’t matter much. If it’s high-speed, however, the tolerance is closer to a millisecond. A switch or an electronic eye may trigger the action, but getting the shot depends on having the hardware and interface to control the cues. Being off by ¼ sec at 24 fps might not be a deal breaker. But, the same shot at 1000 fps would have the action happen after the station break. You get the point.

Flexibility to Create Without Limits

Cobalt is the Tri-State Area’s destination for innovation, and we can customize a user-friendly technology package for any production needs you can think of. We even put Cobalt’s Programmable Logic Controller in a travel case – compact, quick-n-easy, and the solution for all your critical choreography needs!

Make Cobalt your go-to tech partner.
Lets talk.

Learn about Virtual Production
and how to use it?

Cobalt’s got you covered. As the first company to offer Virtual Sets on the East Coast, we have the experience to guide you. Let’s have some fun 😉

ASK US ABOUT VIRTUAL

Need Production
solutions and support?

THAT'S EASY - CALL US

Did someone say Woodstock in the Fall?

Did someone say Woodstock in the Fall? ?

We absolutely love Woodstock in the fall and for two very specific reasons. To start with, there’s no better place in the world to simply celebrate the yin essence of fall and the letting go it inspires. And then, of course, there’s the annual Woodstock Film Festival which is the perfect way to step into the season.

 

We are and have always been so blessed to meet, to know and to work with filmmakers and storytellers from all walks of life and the Woodstock Film Festival has always been a wonderful and exciting venue – good for establishing and then nurturing so many of those unique relationships. The Hudson Valley Film Commission really knows how to stack the plate and make it all happen. And during the course of our favorite festival this year we ran into some exciting potential clients such as our good friends at Nous Entertainment, Gigantic Pictures and Marker Tech, to name a few. And we invite other filmmakers, both new and established, to ask about our VR Stages and cutting-edge Virtual Production system. It’s such an exciting time to be in the biz and to celebrate storytelling with our many friends upstate in the Hudson Valley.

 

So, yes, we are loving the fall, and for oh so many reasons… and this fall, in particular, is winding up to be our biggest yet! Stay tuned!

 

BIG news is coming to this space!