VERSA Studios has partnered with games developer Cloud Imperium Games to create a permanent Motion Capture Games Studio in Manchester’s City Centre.

Work on the studio began in June 2022, to create a bespoke production home for Cloud Imperium Games at VERSA Manchester Studios, enabling the company to further develop their UK operations. The Motion Capture Studio is part of a larger Cloud Imperium Games campus in Manchester that joins with studios in Austin, Frankfurt and Montreal, with Cloud Imperium Games’ headquarters in Los Angeles.

Cloud Imperium Games’ motion capture team has taken up residence in VERSA Manchester’s 4,300 sq ft Studio 6.  Gaming content for both its crowd-funded story-driven, single-player, space simulation game Squadron 42 and its massively multi-player universe simulation game Star Citizen.

The VERSA team collaborated with Cloud Imperium Games to build the technical infrastructure for this CIG Studio to the required specification. The VERSA technical team helped repurpose former TV gallery control rooms by creating a new central apparatus room (CAR) with custom built technical furniture, new technical interconnecting wiring, in-house made technical racks and bespoke monitor stacks. A bespoke truss system was installed by CIG on the perimeter of the studio floor where state-of-the-art motion capture cameras were rigged and calibrated, creating a personalised working space for the motion capture actors to work within. The actors wear physical mocap suits,  digitising actors’ movements to bring  maximum fidelity to the game’s animations.. Cloud Imperium Games have also made use of the studio grid’s monopole system – technically brought back to life by the VERSA team. The acoustic build quality of the unique studio was also fundamental to this project, with rigorous sound testing carried out by VERSA to meet the needs of the CIG team – the acoustic measurements guaranteed the high quality of sound required for this type of production.

Cloud Imperium Games has established their new European headquarters at Enterprise City, in the heart of Manchester City centre, to expand their video game development and publishing businesses. Cloud Imperium has grown the studio in Manchester to over 600 people and are recruiting for further production, game development, marketing and publishing staff to join their team. Cloud Imperium’s state-of-the-art creative games studio is set across 4 floors, with a style designed to immerse visitors into the fiction of their games, including a dedicated Starship entrance lobby, with a Vanduul alien statue from their upcoming game Squadron 42.

The wider VERSA facilities include mid-century modern designed dressing rooms, beautiful green room and technical spaces, featuring portraits taken during their earlier shoot at The Imaginarium of Cloud Imperium’s all-star Squadron 42 cast, including Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis, Mark Strong, Gilliam Anderson and Mark Hamill.

Cloud Imperium’s Studio at VERSA Manchester accommodates a varied shooting schedule which will see UK and International actors performing and being filmed throughout the year.

Cloud Imperium are the latest partner to take up residence at VERSA Manchester Studios. The campus is also the permanent home of BBC Morning Live, and recently hosted the critically acclaimed KAGAMI immersive experience as part of Manchester International Festival.

Carrie Reynolds, VERSA Manchester Studio Operations Manager said of the new studio: “It has been an amazing experience to work closely with the Cloud Imperium Games team to create not only their unique state-of-the-art motion capture stage, but sophisticated and boutique dressing rooms, green room and tech spaces within our facilities here at VERSA Manchester Studios.”

Charlie Ingall, VERSA Studios Executive Director, welcomed Cloud Imperium Games to VERSA Manchester Studios: “We’re very happy to have the Cloud Imperium Games team here at VERSA Studios in Manchester City Centre and to have created a full suite of dedicated production spaces which will enable them to focus on pushing the boundaries of immersive storytelling. Since opening, we’ve shown a continuing focus on adapting to all studio production types and technologies, with an experienced team able to deliver across the full spectrum of entertainment production. It’s great to see this focus paying off with the addition of Cloud Imperium Games.”

Chris Roberts, CEO of Cloud Imperium Games says of the partnership: “The Enterprise City, VERSA Motion Capture Studio is the perfect home for Cloud Imperium Games’ filming needs and we couldn’t be any happier with the facilities or team who are enabling us to focus on creating the most engaging crowd-funded game in the world. VERSA Manchester Studios joins Los Angeles, Austin, Montreal and Frankfurt as home to Cloud Imperium’s team, working in partnership with our community of players on Star Citizen and Squadron 42.”

John Schimmel, Executive Producer of Narrative Content: “Converting this venerable live television studio to a state-of-the-art motion capture studio was a massive undertaking. Our experience with the VERSA team could not have been better. They were wonderfully collaborative, often anticipating our needs before we needed to ask. It is now a wonderful space in which to work.”

Jon Creamer

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