Fox acquires virtual production company Technoprops

In a nod to the capabilities that virtual video production offers media companies, 20th Century Fox Film has made a deal to acquire virtual production company Technoprops.

Now seven years old, Technoprops has supported production of blockbuster films including Avatar and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Marvel movies, The Jungle Book and video games including Call Of Duty: Advance Warfare, Halo 4 and Until Dawn, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The acquisition deal includes a multiyear agreement with Technoprops’ company founder, Glenn Derry, who will become the new vice president of visual effects at the company, which is being rebranded as the Fox VFX Lab.

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Derry will oversee virtual production efforts in a new virtual production facility in downtown Los Angeles. Derry will report to John Kilkenny, Fox Film’s president of Visual Effects.

“Technoprops is quite simply the entertainment industry’s top shop in the world of virtual production tools and real-time visualization techniques,” Kilkenny said in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “From the biggest directorial names in film, to the hottest video game designers, Glenn Derry has collaborated with innumerable major players in the creative community, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him join Fox to run the newly created Fox VFX Lab.”

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21st Century Fox, the parent company of 20th Century Fox, has recently been investing in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology. During the CES trade show in Las Vegas in January, the Fox Innovation Lab from 20th Century Fox announced it will make VR experiences in conjunction with its upcoming films "Alien: Covenant" and "War for the Planet of the Apes." The Innovation Lab is expected to make a "Planet of the Apes"-themed VR experience with Imaginati Studios.

In December, 21st Century Fox led a $58 million investment round for Osterhout Design Group, a startup that is working to develop sunglasses for the consumer market that can display AR and VR content. Technoprops is known for wearable VR headsets, demonstrated at last year's SIGGRAPH annual conference on computer graphics, and fxguide reported that the company is leading the industry in terms of actor head-mounted cameras and wireless virtual cameras created for camera operators.

Brian Cantwell, facial capture production supervisor at visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic told fxguide that he previously worked with Derry on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Warcraft, Dr. Strange, Rogue One and Skull Island.

"I can tell you that they build the best head-mounted camera rigs available, and their expertise on set has always resulted in smooth shoots, comfortable actors and top-quality data acquisition,” Cantwell told fxguide. “If Glenn and his team [are] involved, I always know we're in great hands."