Prague Studios launches construction of high-tech film stage

Technological advances are among the many reasons why international productions have been flocking to Prague's film studios.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 02.11.2022 14:21:00 (updated on 02.11.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Czech Republic has been experiencing a boom in filmmaking in recent years. To meet the growing demand, Prague Studios has started construction on its seventh stage. This will not only add much-needed filming space but also introduce a new technology that will allow for visual effects to be filmed in real time rather than added later.

Stage 7 will be located near Prague Studio’s other stages in a former industrial zone in Prague’s Letňany district. If work goes according to schedule, the stage will open in May 2023. The new stage is already booked. The first project that will film there will be the third season of Apple TV+’s sci-fi series “Foundation,” based on the Isaac Asimov books.

The lot used to house a factory, which was torn down last year. Before the construction of the new stage could begin, several meters of contaminated soil had to be removed and replaced. That work has now been completed. A ceremony was held to launch the construction of the studio, with studio CEO Tomáš Krejčí, actor Marek Vašut, and several others involved in the project hitting a symbolic cornerstone with a hammer.

Visualization of Stage 7. Photo: Prague Studios
Visualization of Stage 7. Photo: Prague Studios

When finished, the new stage will cover 1,260 square meters, roughly the same size as two other recently built stages at Prague Studios. Three other stages cover over 2,000 square meters each. The smallest is 194 square meters, making it suitable to capture images for virtual reality or for photo shoots.

In total, Prague Studios will offer 11,489 square meters of space, though it is unusual for a single production to use all of the stages.

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“With the construction of a seventh stage, we are strengthening our position as a major player in the global film industry. Stage 7 is designed to accommodate the most modern technology that today’s film world offers,” Krejčí said at the ceremony.

Actor Marek Vašut, Prague Studio CEO Tomáš Krejčí and others hit the cornerstone.  Photo: Raymond Johnston
Actor Marek Vašut, Prague Studio CEO Tomáš Krejčí and others hit the cornerstone. Photo: Raymond Johnston

“Among other things, we can count on LED Volume, a revolutionary technology for virtual sets where the background is projected in real-time and not keyed in later,” he added.

Prague Studios will be the first in Central Europe to offer LED Volume. The technology uses high-definition LED walls that project computer-generated backdrops. These backdrops, called volumes, can be coordinated with camera movements to create a smoothly flowing shot. Traditionally, these scenes would have been shot on green screens – empty sets painted entirely green – and the backgrounds would be added in post-production.

The projected background can be a desert one minute, a forest the next, and then a real or imaginary cityscape all with the push of a few buttons. In his introductory remarks, Vašut said that this technology would create a new era in filmmaking, as everything can be done quickly in one studio without having to go to different locations.

While many industries have been scaling back due to the current economic situation, Krejčí says that film production will not be negatively affected. “The boom in streaming services such as Apple TV+ and others suggests the opposite,” he said. The industry was also able to weather the Covid crisis, with production being able to continue under strict safety guidelines, he added.

Notable productions made at Prague Studios:

  • Anne Frank: The Whole Story (2001)
  • Blade II (2002)
  • xXx (2002)
  • Children of Dune (2002)
  • Van Helsing (2004)
  • AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
  • Hellboy (2004)
  • Wanted (2008)
  • Red Tails (2012)
  • Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)
  • Britannia (2018)
  • Whiskey Cavalier (2018)
  • Carnival Row (2019)
  • Foundation (2022)

Prague Studios was founded in 1999 and started operation in 2001, with its first stages in three renovated hangars previously used by the Letov aircraft maker that made parts for MiG 21 fighters and other planes. One of the stages, which can be filled with water, was used in the 2002 action film “xXx” for details of some of the chase scenes set on the Vltava river.

Cara Delevingne in
Cara Delevingne in 'Carnival Row.' Photo: Amazon Prime.

The studio expanded in May 2018 with the addition of two new stages that were purpose-built from scratch. It also renovated its existing spaces. “When our facility upgrades and the new stages are completed, Prague Studios will be able to handle the most ambitious Hollywood productions,” Krejčí said when work began on those stages in late 2017, according to the film journal Variety.

Prague Studios is not the only major player in Prague. Barrandov Studios, which started operations in 1931, has also undergone several waves of expansion, most recently in 2006. It now has 10 sound stages at the Barrandov location in Prague 5, and four more in Prague’s Hostivař district, as well as a standing medieval village set on its back lot.

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