The human spirit is indomitable. For every challenge, humanity has found solutions and opportunities. There is no denying that Covid-19 accelerated the adoption of digital technologies. The AV industry has been at the forefront providing connectivity for employees, colleagues, friends and customers from the safety of their homes; offering solutions to manage access and control crowds and thought out-of-the-box to present events for the masses from the comfort of their homes.
The XR studio is one such example. VR and AR were already common technologies before Covid-19 hit. XR or Extended Reality is another tool in the box in the digital realm that has evolved rapidly. According to MarketWatch, global XR production will grow by 46.5% per year between 2020 and 2026.
What exactly is XR studio? An XR studio comprises different components. Playing a major role are LED screens which act as large backgrounds and, at times, are even installed on the floor. Of course, complementing the LED screens are cameras and lights. Instead of green screens, which have been predominantly used to virtually transport a presenter to an environment, XR studios showcase the environment on LED screens. The biggest benefit – anyone on the stage can actually see and interact with the environment seamlessly, without wondering whether they are in the right position.
Key Components. As mentioned above, LED panels play a key role. As cameras can be unforgiving in production, the panels must be high quality. In addition, the processors driving the LED panel and the media servers used for real-time content need to be of very high standards. When the end product is broadcast, viewers should not realise that the production was shot in an XR Studio – that is the ultimate goal.
The Plethora of Uses. XR studios, over the last year, have transformed productions. They have been used to produce film segments when travelling was a constraint, for commercials, concerts and events. It has also become highly fashionable to use XR studios for corporate presentations to key stakeholders as they offer a more dynamic and engaging impact.
GIANTSTEP’s XR Studio
GIANTSTEP is a content solutions company that produces some of the best visual content in Korea and specializes in using the latest innovative content technologies like AI-based virtual human production, real-time XR content, immersive real-time content and VFX for use in entertainment, television and advertising. The company has recently set up its XR studio.
GIANTSTEP’s XR studio features multiple high-resolution LG displays with a centre LED screen at 11,520 x 2,700 pixels, a top ceiling display at 1928 x 1538 pixels, a bottom display at 2816 x 1408 pixels, and accompanied with a right display of 1920 x 1080 pixels. All of these displays power up with just one Analog Way Aquilon C+ series and one Analog Way Picturall Pro Mark II media player.
Choi Seong Ho, the chief technology officer of GIANTSTEP notes that “as the trendsetter, we can only choose the best quality technologies as the production needs to be of very high standards. After many tries, we finally found the best choice of LG LED panels with the Analog Way equipment.” He adds, “we always demand the most ultimate and reliable technologies for our XR studio.”
Chris Choi, country manager of Analog Way Korea, explains that Analog Ways’ Picturall Pro Mark II media server is the only one that can cover over 8K resolution live contents properly from a single server unit. “Picturall Pro Mark II has enough power to play media up to 16 x 4K resolution, allowing massive media playback on the whole video canvas used for GIANTSTEP’s studio. In addition, the extreme video processing performance offered by the Aquilon C+ has the ability to drive a large number of perfectly synchronized 4K60 LED displays. The performance and mission-critical reliability of our products were key to helping GIANTSTEP set up its high standards XR studio.”
Having visited their studio this year, I was truly impressed by GIANTSTEP’s level of innovation and creativity,” says Eric Delmas, CEO of Analog Way. “This culture resonates very well with Analog Way’s passion for solving the most complex video processing challenges such as those encountered in virtual production.”
LG’s Kim Dong Pil, VP of LG Asia B2B Business, explains, “LG offers differentiated value by providing dedicated ecosystem solutions such as camera, media server, camera tracking and rendering software. Our products are designed to be suitable for ICVFX-based production. We are continuously improving both the hardware and software through on-site support to optimize the LED Wall to meet constantly evolving production technology.”
Mr Choi is also quick to note the importance of partners. “The success of an XR studio depends on partnering with the right technology providers. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes technology that helps create the right look and feel of production in an XR studio. Of course, the expertise of the production crew is also crucial. There are, as expected, challenges when setting up an XR studio, but proper technical understanding does a lot to help overcome them.”
In PART TWO, which will appear in our November e-newsletter issue, you can read about the different challenges faced by GIANTSTEP in setting up the studio and how they resolved them. In addition, learn about how GIANTSTEP came up with its own solution for better control of all the different elements for a more seamless XR studio recording.