KeyWall: key to the digital universe

  • 23.12.2010

Marcinelle already knew the company DreamWall, a graphics and animation studio born from a joint venture between the RTBF and Dupuis. Those who keep an eye on the Walloon audiovisual news know that the graphic designers and animators at DreamWall have been working on several animated series, some from the Dupuis universe (Spirou, Cédric, soon Petit Spirou as well as Lulu Vroumette and Chicken Town. But DreamWall is also capable of creating virtual sets.

Being so complementary to each other, Léon Pérahia and Thibault Baras decided to set up the KeyWall project, which will soon offer a huge, 400 sqm virtual studio as well as a number of services related to digital and mostly virtual technologies: besides the management of the virtual studio to be used for shoots, KeyWall will also offer a post-production space and a second, so-called ’light’, studio, for weather report activities. For both, the used technology stems from one of the world leaders, the Israeli NORAD, which makes available nearly €800,000 worth of technological material, which is being reimbursed based on a share in the future revenue.

The rapid evolution of digital technology and the technological development of videogames, with a tendency towards hyper-realism certainly justify the use of a virtual studio. It makes it possible to use 3D computer generated sets instead of classic sets during the filming of audiovisual productions. The virtual studio can generate décors impossible to have in reality (speaking of size as well as of content) and allows to change sets very quickly. The limits of creativity have once more been pushed further (augmented reality, fiction TV).

From an economic point of view, there are also advantages to a studio like the one KeyWall will soon have at its disposition. Indeed, the cost of a virtual décor is less than that of a real décor. The material construction, storage and upkeeping of sets are avoided… the virtual set makes it possible to constantly adapt sets, have a variation of concepts and quickly go on air. An optimal rotation in the studios goes with this.

In concrete terms, the virtual studio will be set up in the Dupuis warehouses in Marcinelle, where previously the comic books were stored. The warehouses span 3,000 sqm, but not all surface will be used at first. Indeed, the planned studio for the start of the company will “only” measure 400 sqm, which leaves possibilities open for the future. For the post-production activities KeyWall will also bring in partner companies, the first being Genval-Les-Dames and Mediares. The ideal position of the studios, which remain very accessible and close to key transport routes (car – train – plane), is another asset which should help KeyWall to rapidly become one of the central pulse points for digital activity in Wallonia and in Europe.

Léon Pérahia and Thibault Baras, the founding fathers of this innovative structure, are supported by five investors: the RTBF and Dupuis, with their shared experience in DreamWall, divide 40% of the company between them . Just like with DreamWall, KeyWall will make it possible for their shareholders to use their own very performing tool: no need to delegate! Besides, two regional television chains, TéléSambre and RTC Liège each hold 5% of the capital. These three private companies are joined by two public partners, both adding 20%, namely Sambrinvest and … Wallimage Entreprises.

Note also that the carrying forces behind the project are also in talks with Virtualis to create synergies rather than unnecessary rivalry; both structures can be complementary for many aspects. A plan to take reciprocal shares is being considered and is actually studied by both parties…