You should have had a chance to read our recent piece on the distinctions between MR (mixed reality), AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), and XR (extended reality); it was just a sample of the variations between the several instruments that comprise virtual production. We decided it would be beneficial to continue that discussion by learning more about XR and seeing how it can actually eliminate barriers to creativity.
The term “XR” is frequently used to refer to all the numerous technologies (including MR, AR, VR, etc.) that combine to create a virtual production. The term “XR” however, has a very specific meaning. Large LED Volumes are used to construct virtual environments that talent may engage with, according to our definition of XR.
The results can be stunningly impressive and exquisitely realistic (so naturally that you might not even be aware that the technology is being used), and because XR software is developing at a dizzying pace, they might be.
What is the Use of XR
As you would have guessed, extended reality throws open the floodgates to imagination in terms of virtual production. But there’s nothing better than actual instances of how XR solutions may be used to help visualize what that looks like:
Bring virtual environments to life in use case one.
Creative options are now absolutely limitless because of the immersive potential of LED Volumes paired with camera location and movement. The Mandalorian by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is one of the best-known instances of this use case. Using XR, ILM’s production team and talent were able to pull off previously unimaginable feats like switching between an island and a mountain location in the same day or being able to shoot a 10-hour dawn without any breaks.
Expand sets and stages well beyond their physical boundaries (USE CASE #2)
Traditionally, the physical limitations of a stage or studio have been a restraint on the majority of visual narrative formats, including TV, film, theater, and live transmission. No longer: by “expanding” the boundaries of any set or stage, XR enables a considerably more engaging experience.
An excellent example is the aesthetically spectacular experience provided to viewers by CCTV, China’s national broadcaster, during their show for Consumer’s Rights Day. They set up a massive LED wall that wowed viewers at home with amazing images made possible by the Pixotope engine. Virtual graphics, animations, and settings that encircled the presenters increased the show’s creative capabilities and provided an immersive news experience that reached almost every household in China.
Third use case: combining the real and virtual worlds
Sometimes it makes sense to use real photography that has been supplemented with virtual visual material to maintain a sense of reality. News and current affairs are fantastic instances of factual storytelling.
This is what South Korean broadcaster KBS did to cover the 2022 Presidential Election by using three Pixotope XR software engines and a huge, curved LED volume. KBS recognized the opportunity to enhance their physical set with a replica of the presidential mansion, the Blue House, combined with top-notch graphics after previously utilizing Pixotope’s extended reality technology. XR-generated stars and streetlights were added to another outdoor set to augment it, producing incredibly captivating yet realistic scenes.
KBS shown that they are at the forefront of innovation with their breathtaking extended reality application. Their broadcast was the most watched on election night, highlighting their achievement.
Gains That Go Beyond “Wow”
All of this may sound impressive to you, but how feasible is it to deploy XR software, and will it only drive up your costs? However, XR can provide you much more than just a visual “wow”—pun intended.
TIME AND MONEY SAVINGS
Consider first how eliminating the need to transport the complete production team and talent between several location shots will significantly shorten production times and lower production expenses. Additionally, you can quickly change environments or locales.
ILM discovered that script pages shot in LED Volumes were created 30% to 50% faster than those shot in conventional sets on The Mandalorian. Going all-in on virtual production in this instance allowed for a two- to three-month reduction in the gap between seasons of the show. “You can use more days or get more high-quality creative, or you can do things that are more spectacular than you could ever do if you had to build it all for real,” said Rob Bredow, SVP & Chief Creative Officer at ILM. Or you could do it in less days and finish it more quickly.
Furthermore, real-time utilization of XR-driven LED volume studio production eliminates the need for post-production editing. Real-time rendering gives you more time and money for more inventiveness.
Carbon footprint per production is significantly decreased by eliminating the need to transport hundreds of people and truckloads of equipment to numerous sites. When you design your interplanetary setting, that impactful esports stage, and your upcoming music video set in XR, they are all zeros and ones, so you can say goodbye to throwaway sets and the requirement for enormous quantities of storage.
CONSISTENT PERFORMANCE AND UNLIMITED CREATIVITY
As we’ve seen from instances of our customers, XR enables production teams to work together in real time to create the optimal surroundings. On location, with the appropriate surroundings and lighting, talent is fully immersed. Additionally, you get real depth and perspective that change in real-time as the camera moves since the engine composing the virtual environment receives data on the position of the camera.
These are only a few of the factors that make XR software an important component of the virtual production kit, and there’s no doubt that as technology advances and continues its relentless progress, the advantages will only grow.
Problems with XR
Some of the barriers to widespread adoption are being overcome by those working on XR technologies. First, XR technologies gather and analyse enormous amounts of very sensitive data about your daily activities, including what you look at, do, and even feel. This data must be protected.
In addition, the cost of adopting the technology must decrease; otherwise, many businesses won’t be able to do so. The wearable technology that enables a comprehensive XR experience must be stylish, comfortable, always connected, intelligent, and immersive.
The display, power and thermal, motion tracking, connectivity, and common illumination are only a few of the important technological and hardware problems that need to be resolved in order to prevent virtual items in the real world from seeming identical to real objects, especially when the lighting changes.
We are getting closer to finding solutions to these problems every day, which means that over the next few years, all XR technologies will be used in a much wider range of everyday applications.