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Sony Group Launches Innovative Preproduction Facility ‘Torchlight’ in California

Torchlight Revolutionizes Filmmaking with Advanced Tech, Saving Time and Costs for Movie Creators
Japan
s 6758.TSE Blue Chip 150 Games 75 Entertainment 100 Anime 20 Tech 350
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Sony Group has unveiled an advanced preproduction facility, Torchlight, in California, set to revolutionize the filmmaking process by enabling creators to visualize their projects before actual filming. Located at Sony Pictures Entertainment’s headquarters near Los Angeles, Torchlight is accessible to all creators, extending beyond those affiliated with Sony.

Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony’s Chairman and CEO, emphasized the company’s commitment to empowering creators during the announcement at the CES consumer electronics expo. This facility aligns with Sony’s ethos of placing creators at the core of its business.

A glimpse into Torchlight reveals an array of screens and cameras equipped with sensors. These devices interact with markers and sensors on the ceiling, allowing for the creation of high-precision computer graphics that mimic real-life filming locations. This innovative setup enables directors and staff to experiment with camera angles, lighting, and other elements, storing the data for future filming.

Typically, such preproduction work is time-consuming and less efficient compared to Torchlight’s capabilities. Andy Davis, President of Production Administration at Columbia Pictures, highlighted Torchlight’s efficiency, noting a reduction in filming time from six days to four. This time saving translates to significant cost reductions, considering the scale of movie productions.

Torchlight’s inception was driven by Davis’s desire to alleviate the pressure of traditional filmmaking, fostering a more creative environment for filmmakers. This launch comes as streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon, and Walt Disney invest heavily in content production, with the global video streaming market expected to reach $303 billion by 2029.

Sony’s focus on preproduction and instant visualization of creative ideas sets it apart in an industry where postproduction and streaming services are fiercely competitive. Torchlight leverages Sony’s extensive technical expertise, including semiconductors, sensors, cameras, audio, and screens, integrating motion capture sensors and Sony’s Venice digital movie cameras.

The real-time graphics are powered by an engine developed by Epic Games, in which Sony has a capital tie-up. Alex Cannon, SPE’s Creative Director of Visualization, praised the unique tools provided by Torchlight, acknowledging its transformative impact on his work.

Despite some challenges in the media sector, including a Hollywood writers and actors strike and past pressures to spin off the film business, Sony’s entertainment segment remains robust. It is expected to contribute significantly to the group’s consolidated operating profit this fiscal year.

Sony’s focus on creators is also opening new business avenues. SPE has been chosen to distribute Nintendo’s live-action film adaptation of The Legend of Zelda, reflecting its growing influence in the entertainment industry.

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