Setting the scene for a dystopian drama on NBC’s Peacock streaming service.
Creating a TV adaption of a classic novel always comes with a fair amount of pressure, but when that novel is set in the future and is considered the benchmark of dystopian fiction, that pressure increases exponentially. This is the challenge that faced the team adapting Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” into a 10-part series for NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, Peacock.
Story and character considerations aside, creating settings that convincingly depicted the novelist’s vision of the world in 2540AD must have been one of the most demanding aspects of the production. While the series features its fair share of virtual backdrops, the producers at All That Limited chose to film futuristic nightclub scenes on location at Battersea Park, relying on a combination of LED flooring and laser projection inside a custom-built marquee to create a high-tech and decadent environment.
Before the ambitious nightclub shoot could go ahead, the various technical teams needed to ensure that the planned combination of technology would deliver the creative vision for the scenes. Because one of the key objectives of technical testing was to ensure that the LED floor provided by Anna Valley would produce the right on-camera effect, the audio-visual company’s warehouse was selected as the location for the technical tests – which quickly grew into a full production test. In addition to providing warehouse space for a marquee to be erected to replicate the shoot location, Anna Valley built a 25-square-meter LED floor for the tests with cameras from Arri and accommodated cast members, the wardrobe department and 18 tonnes of lighting gear from Panalux to prepare for the location shoot.
Keeping cool heads during steamy scenes
With testing successfully completed, Anna Valley were commissioned to provide a 10m x 7m, LED floor for the “Brave New World” nightclub shoot at Battersea Park in July 2019. The massive floor was created using 280 panels from a single batch of NX7 LED stock, to ensure visual consistency, and was built onto a platform a meter above ground level so that the controls could be accessed from underneath. Eight technicians spent two days building and rigging for the shoot which featured over 100 cast members having a naked party on the floor. The entire floor was covered with Perspex, for both artistic reasons and to protect the talent from raised pixels, but this also reduced the LED panels’ ability to cool. The AV team kept a careful eye on the floor’s temperature and performance from a distance using virtual monitoring software as only essential crew were allowed on set due to the nudity involved in the scenes being filmed.
A well-timed release?
NBCUniversal released the first series of “Brave New World” to coincide with the launch of their new Peacock streaming service on 15 July 2020, and the series premieres in the UK on Sky One in Autumn 2020. With the world still coming to terms with the aftermath of Covid-19 and adapting to our “new normal,” this timing seems apt.
Delivering the creative vision for nightclub scenes in “Brave New World” required creative and technical collaboration from the crew and technology providers, including Anna Valley. The LED dance floor they installed for our complex scenes was done quickly and efficiently.