VR Interview with Tim Doubleday, Entertainment Product Manager at Vicon
September 30, 2020 – Today, Tim Doubleday talks to VFX Online about his experience of Vicon and VFX/VR Industry.
Academy Award-winning Vicon is the world’s largest supplier of precision motion capture and tracking systems. It serves customers in the CG animation, object-tracking, virtual and augmented realities, engineering, biomechanics, sports and clinical sciences arenas.
// From Tim Doubleday, Entertainment Product Manager at Vicon
Share something about Vicon Origin?
Origin by Vicon is our comprehensive location-based virtual reality (LBVR) system designed to build on the growth of LBVR with the help of its extensive, 35+ years of experience in motion capture systems and the support of industry leaders like Dreamscape Immersive.
Origin was first announced at SIGGRAPH 2018. The system includes Vicon’s academy award-winning tracking technology and all of the features and tools needed for developers and other creators looking to utilize it – regardless of industry or size.
Each level of the Origin ecosystem is based on quality and reliability. The suite marries Vicon’s Viper, Pulsar, Beacon and Evoke to collaborate among the necessary technologies – including tracking cameras, clusters, software and wireless networks – to ensure a completely immersive, top-notch experience for participants each time.
Share something about World’s biggest VR experience of Europa Park?
Vicon’s partnership with Europa Park, MackNeXT and VR Coaster is powering Yullbe, a fully-immersive VR experience at the famous amusement park in Rust, Germany. Yullbe’s platform is built on Origin by Vicon – a system created for the collective VR market that includes an advanced ecosystem of technology including the software, cameras, and LED clusters to support full-body tracking. The strength behind Yullbe’s platform is its ability to maintain full-body tracking of up to 32 players in a large physical space. With the help of Vicon’s technology, Europa Park can deliver a continually optimal LBVR experience to customers each time they enter the attraction.
Share something in detail about Vicon Electric Playbox?
Vicon’s recent partnership with Electric Playbox builds on the location-based entertainment industry, as its motion tracking solutions are a key part to power Electric Playbox’s new features. Electric Playbox allows teams of up to six work together to play their way through 60-minute adventures in interactive digital rooms – called Playboxes – that feature projectors, touch screens, surround sound and motion tracking tech to deliver hyper-immersive and interactive experiences.
Electric Playbox just opened a new location this past August in Manchester’s Arndale Centre. There will be 10 Playboxes at this location, all relying on Vicon’s tracking technology to mesh well with the amount of players and provide quality results throughout the entire experience.
Share something about Vicon’s world-first virtual stope of VR training for miners?
Training new miners can be quite dangerous, as real-life mining training typically happens up to 3,000 feet underground. Luckily, with the combination of VR and motion capture, Anglo American (a global mining company) was able to implement a simulation in their platinum mines in South Africa to offer real-life experience to trainees without the risk.
Vicon teamed with STS3D – a company who offers VR learning solutions for miners – to combine its motion capture technology with VR and create a “game” that prepares miners for harsh conditions brought on by mine blasting, presenting their errors just like it would happen in real-time.
Share something about Vicon Evoke 1.3 features?
Evoke 1.3 is Vicon’s most recent update to the Evoke software, which is designed to power Origin by Vicon for optimal tracking in VR environments. The newest features in Evoke 1.3 include its ability to automatically assign clusters to character limbs for optimal speed during the experience as well as adaptive cluster calibration to adjust inconsistent placement. The new update also added features to support the availability of camera health metrics via API and enhanced Pulsar firmware support for improved connection reliability.
How is virtual production helpful for our industry?
More than ever it’s important for people to stay socially distanced, whether it be on set or working remotely. There are numerous virtual production techniques that can help to facilitate this. For example, LED walls and virtual lighting help reduce the number of people required on set. We’ve also seen remote shoots where the director will work remotely with live video and a highly detailed representation of the character and scene is delivered in the game engine. This means only a few technical operators on stage along with the motion capture actors, of course.
The key, though, is being able to deliver outstanding levels of VFX within a budget that fits a long-form TV series or advertisement. Removing the post element and recording final in camera pixels offers a huge cost saving. It’s worth remembering, however, that the work has only really moved from post into pre-production. Artists and creatives need to have film quality assets ready ahead of the shoot – although you do have the option of dropping a virtual green screen and doing the comp after the fact.
For Vicon, the ability to mix traditional full-body tracking with fingers combined with super low latency camera tracking all at sub millimeter accuracy is crucial. This all has to work in the most difficult set environments and must handle things like smoke and incredibly bright lights.
The advantage of using a single tracking system means you know where everything is. The film camera in relation to the LED wall, in relation to the actors standing in front of the camera, in relation to the physical and thus, virtual lights that are lighting the scene.
This gives us a real advantage – by using timecode and sync you can also remain confident that everything is locked to the frame of the camera and LED wall. The possibilities are endless and I think it’s going to be fascinating where people take this technology in the next couple of years!
Share something in detail about Vicon’s Presentation in SIGGRAPH 2020?
It was unfortunate that Vicon couldn’t demo our SimulCam solution in-person at SIGGRAPH in Washington this year. Hopefully, the offline presentation successfully demonstrated how we see Shōgun as a hub for all your virtual production needs. The presentation showcased a number of different examples, including shooting final in camera pixels using LED walls as well as mixing full body and camera tracking for green screen compositing.
How is VR utilized in the current state of the film and gaming industry?
VR is mainly used in VFX to scout out digital locations, collaborate as a team to build environments and work out shot placement. The advantage of using Vicon is that we can track multiple headsets all within a large space. This space can also include the physical film, camera and any other digital assets such as props or set scenery.
Any upcoming projects of Vicon?
We can’t wait for the upcoming release of Cyberpunk 2077. Its use of cutting-edge technology allows the game to fit perfectly within its setting. There’s also Disney’s Mandalorian Season 2 which premiers at the end of October. Lots to keep us busy!
We would like to thank Tim Doubleday for the great interview. If you would like to know more about Vicon, go to www.vicon.com