We recently sent Graeme Sutherland, our Head of Creative Production and all round wizard, to San Francisco with TRC, to discover the latest in immersive tech and report back. 

The Creative Production Team brings to life the majority of video, animation, 3D and interactive work that we produce at Whitespace. Over the past few years, we have used emerging tech in the areas of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Realtime video and Drones, to provide new engaging experiences for our clients and their customers.

We’re always looking ahead to see what advances in tech and computing can make life easier for us, or better convey a message than the traditional means.

TRC

Last month I travelled to San Francisco with TRC, a training organisation for digital businesses, to visit Facebook – Oculus, MagicLeap, Epic (Makers of Game Engine - Unreal) and ILMxLAB (Industrial Light and Magic mixed reality studio) as well as many other exciting tech companies in the bay area. The aim of the trip was to explore businesses working with Immersive tech and see which areas could best be adopted into our workflow, both currently and in the future, and explore the upper limits of what is achievable in Immersive.

AR

Uses of AR on the web and through apps has continually improved since its simple printed marker and webcam days.

2019 saw the introduction of simple to implement AR model-viewer tag on mobile sites. Both Apple and Google have bet on different file types with USDZ and GLTF 3D formats on iOS and Android respectively. Some great examples of model-viewer in the wild were the new iPhone 11 Pro handset on Apple.com, and the Dr Marten x Lazy Oaf collaboration, showcasing their range of boots.

Looking forward, the introduction of AR headsets like MagicLeap and Nreal enable the user to view experiences as if they are in the room. The key to believable AR is depth perception, to show tables and other items in the room obscuring the view, and not have everything float on top.

A real turning point will be when Apple reveal their AR wearable device in the coming years. Apple is expected to expand upon the concepts developed by competitors and smooth out issues. 

Realtime Rendering

2019 has seen an uptake in Realtime Rendering across film and tv productions. So what does that mean? When Pixar or Dreamworks set out to make an animated 3D film, the assets are modelled and animated, then there is a lengthy rendering time where the lighting, reflections and effects are calculated and drawn by the computer. The renders would then be taken into video editing software to adjust levels of contrast and colour on the character and background.

Realtime Rendering takes advantage of increased processing power and the potential of new Ray Tracing cards that quickly simulate how light bounces in the real world, in order to make changes to the animation on the fly, without the need to queue up a render. The advantage is the massive amount of time saved, and the potential for future media to be interactive, like that of the TellTale series of interactive story games.

Realtime has also been used in the live action field, helping production in shows like The Mandalorian. Unreal Engine was used on LED display panels in place of traditional greenscreen, so that as the show was being filmed, the environment was already in the shot, and the actors could have more context for the world they were interacting with. You can see an example of this tech here.

CES

Outside of San Francisco, at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, companies unveiled their latest innovations across all areas of technology. Most of the attention from the public might have been on flying taxis, smart toilets or perhaps a rotating or roll up television. But what aspects are going to have a dramatic effect on our day to day lives and the way we consume media? 

5G

5G is an important turning point for online content, not only on mobile devices but also in the home. The jump from 3G to 4G download speed was from around 8MBps to 50MBps, or around 10x, and allowed for confident streaming of services like Netflix or Sky on the go.

The transition from 4G to 5G means a colossal 100x increase of up to 10GBps downloads. The implications of this are faster download speeds than most home broadband suppliers, and a demand for richer content from users. As a result of this, Google has bet money on their game streaming service Stadia, allowing for PC graphics streaming to tablets and mobile.

2020 and beyond

This year will see the introduction of many new media innovations across the world of Immersive. The next decade is going to see a great change in the type of media we are consuming and great strides forward in how it is produced.

Find out more about TRC here.