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4Wall Provides 170’ Video Wall for HBO's Full Circle Series

By Luke Lytle
Oct 24, 2023, updated Nov 28, 2023

"The video wall was the thing on the show that I was the most uninformed and terrified of." Robert Streim, Unit Production Manager 

After my interview with Robert Streim, the UPM of HBO's Full Circle Series, that quote kept coming back to me. Let me go back a bit to explain. 

The Challenges of Utilizing Real Light 

Full Circle is a limited series psychological thriller by acclaimed director Stephen Soderbergh (Ocean's Eleven series, Magic Mike series, Erin Brockovich) that was recently released on HBO Max. The series takes place in New York around Washington Square Park. Soderbergh wanted to utilize real light in the production as much as possible, which meant finding and utilizing a location around the park rather than building and utilizing a set. Utilizing LED screens was also an option but would put the production over budget due to all the equipment that was required. So, the location team set out to find spots for the apartment scenes, where much of the series would take place.  

Meanwhile, the show Gaffer and ICLS member Derek Gross, worked with Soderbergh to determine an on-site location next to Washington Park or to determine if they would need to build a set. During that time, Derek attended the tradeshow Cine Gear Expo in LA and ran into a fascinating new product by Rosco & Fuse FX, the RDX LAB System. The RDX Lab seemed very promising by touting to have many features Soderbergh & Gross were looking for.  

Discovering the RDX Lab System 

After getting a full demo of the product, Gross was intrigued by the idea of using this new product for Full Circle as it would allow them to utilize the benefits of an LED screen setup. The RDX Lab software's features included a 7-layer day & night system, fine-tuning of content, and near-instantaneous switching between the content, all at a reduced cost-savings from a traditional LED wall setup.  

For Soderbergh, this setup would give him the ability to move & shoot across the full apartment set with pre-shot footage displayed on the screen while giving him the natural light that was so crucial to him. Best of all, the control of the wall could be set up on a tablet and set up next to the DP and Director to give them easy control of the massive 170' linear LED wall. After demoing the RDX Lab System on Absen PL 2.5 Pro tile with the camera that would be utilized for the shoot, Soderbergh was sold. 

Streim was now in charge of making it all happen. Figuring out how to integrate the LED volume was what most terrified him about the production. He had seen other projects utilize LED screens but had never worked directly with this type of setup. There was also the problem of space, time, and how he was going to build the largest LED screen ever utilized in a television show as of late 2022. 

Enter 4Wall Entertainment 

Cue 4Wall. "I turned to 4Wall for two things," said Streim. First, to get the best product I could get at an affordable price that was reliable and flexible with the time we could use it. Second, to take responsibility for delivering it, assembling it, executing it, and taking it down. As a non-Local 52 house, 4Wall was incredibly adept at working with a union shop to make it all work. The video wall was the thing on the show that I was the most uninformed and terrified of, but once it all arrived and was set up, it was the thing I worried about the least. This was because of the expert execution between 4Wall, Visual Alchemy, and Rosco." 

The Absen PL 2.5 Pro was utilized due to its high pixel pitch, reliability, and ease of use with Brompton servers. A 4Wall New York team led by Art Lavis, Spencer Hurley, Paige Pinckney, and Ben Danielowski was brought in to execute building the 4Wall supplied linear LED wall and determining the server configuration with Visual Alchemy being responsible for building the servers.  

"Art was very responsive, reasonable, and attentive. Paige understood our needs at a level that was so matter-of-fact that it built my confidence in her leadership. She toed the line well with Local 52 and there were no issues with that. A special shoutout to Spencer and Ben who helped put everything together to make it work flawlessly. Also, the trucking solution provided gave me a huge relief not to have to worry about it or find a third party. It's not a sexy solution that's talked about often, but it was huge for us," said Streim. 

Wrapping Up

After everything was in place, the production team for Full Circle began the fast-paced schedule, which consisted of shooting at Washington Square Park and on-set. The LED screen was utilized to simulate what was seen outside the apartment windows and to introduce real light to the set. The RDX System worked as hoped, allowing for rapid cuts between scenes and giving fast & easy control of the video wall. 

Gross reminisced on the shoot, "What we are doing lighting-wise is to help tell the story rather than focus on creating cool or pretty shots. Going to a full LED wall helped to tell the story, which is why we ultimately utilized it. Walls add so much dynamic lighting, and it helps the actors visualize what is happening over a green screen." Gross continued, "Everything was seamless working with 4Wall. They have always been my first go-to for the newest tech, and due to their flexibility in extending a rental to an ever-changing production schedule." 

About Full Circle: 

Full Circle is a mini-series by HBO Max about an investigation into a botched kidnapping, which uncovers long-held secrets connecting multiple characters and cultures in present-day New York City. It aired between July 13-27, 2023, and was directed by Steven Soderbergh and composed by Zack Ryan. The star-studded cast features Zazie Beetz, Clair Danes, Jim Gaffigan, Jharrel Jerome, Timothy Olyphant, CCH Pounder, and Dennis Quaid. 

You can watch the full series on HBO Max.

About 4Wall: 

Founded in 1999, 4Wall Entertainment is a full-service lighting, video, and rigging company servicing all facets of the entertainment industry - from corporate events and theatre to concert touring and television. 4Wall is currently a member of the Hollywood Professionals Association (HPA) and the International Cinema Lighting Society (ICLS) organizations within the TV and film industry. Our offerings include rentals and production services, new and used sales, and permanent installations. We pride ourselves on providing the feel of a local company with the backing and support of a multi-national entity. Our motto 'Large Enough to Service, Small Enough to Care' speaks to our dedication to providing the utmost quality and service for every order, no matter the size or scope. 

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