For the past year, the world has been preoccupied with Zoom meetings. disguise, the technology innovator in extended reality (xR) and virtual production, has been looking at a very different type of zoom. Instead of video meetings, disguise allows its users to zoom in and out of a virtual world on camera.
disguise’s award-winning extended reality (xR) workflow, released to the general public in April 2021 through its new r18 software, includes this groundbreaking new feature which extends the virtual scene to allow cameras to zoom in and out of each scene. With these capabilities, the community of disguise users can now build even more exciting and elaborate scenes than ever before. This is just one of the many features of disguise’s xR workflow which allows users to mix the physical and virtual worlds together.
xR pioneers and disguise partners, XR Studios, were among the first to incorporate the new feature into their current workflow and explore its full potential. Their first project using virtual zoom was with singer Katy Perry. For what is now the third collaboration with Perry, XR Studios used the new feature to enhance her performance for the Lazada, the Malay e-commerce platform, annual Super Party that was simulcast across Southeast Asia
“The virtual zoom allowed us to work outside the box because we can now simulate shooting in a space that is ten times larger than ours,” says J.T. Rooney, Chief Creative Officer at XR Studios.
Silent Partners Studios were the xR content designers on this project, and by partnering with XR Studios, they were able to create worlds that went beyond the limits of the physical screens. Perry performed against a giant Pierrot statue, Escher-inspired architecture, swan sculptures, and a fireworks display, with the camera zooming in and out on her in the virtual space —creating a huge sense of scale.
Of course, using this kind of technology for the first time isn’t without its challenges. Not only were there tight turnarounds and short deadlines, but there was the added challenge of incorporating a brand new input into the workflow.
“As always, creating worlds and content in xR is challenging, but it’s consistently a rewarding adventure to figure out the virtual space,” says Rooney.
All disguise’s innovations are driven by the needs of its user community, informed by constant collaborations and conversations — and this innovation is no exception.
“This new workflow is something that has been discussed for a long time and the XR Studios team was excited to see how we could help push it further, give suggestions, and test and develop it in a live show environment,” says Rooney.
By using the new virtual zoom feature, XR Studios were able to achieve shots that were previously unattainable. “Adding the virtual zoom to the workflow meant we could creatively see more of the scene and build a more elaborate environment,” explains Rooney.
“Over the past 12 months, XR Studios have been trailblazing the use of our xR workflow,” says disguise CEO Fernando Kufer. “From their early days delivering Katy Perry’s first xR-powered performance on the American Idol season 18 finale, to, nearly a year later, pioneering our latest software features in their third collaboration with the artist. We love seeing them constantly break boundaries in xR production.”
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Creative Direction: The Squared Division
Producer: Baz Halpin, Silent House Productions
XR Producers: XR Studios
XR Content Designers: Silent Partners Studio
XR Producer: J.T. Rooney
XR Virtual Screens Producer: Kerstin Hovland
XR Technical Director: Scott Millar
SPS Video Content Creative Director: Claudine Boulanger
Video Director: Kerry Asmussen
Lighting Programmer: Joe Watrach
Lighting Director: Madigan Stehly
Real Time Rendering: Notch & Unreal Engine
Camera Tracking: Stype
Photo: © XR Studios