The Craft of Technology
We Are AR

Boasting the most potential of all of the Spatial Medias, Augmented Reality (AR) superimposes a computer-generated image over a live view of the real world. A small chip known as an IMU (Internal Measurement Unit) aligns its spatial coordinates with those of the physical environment which then creates a virtual space that is in simultaneous registration with both the physical space and the virtual space. Any image or graphic placed into the virtual space will remain in alignment as the viewer shifts their point of view. This is called AR Overlay, and although the methodology is quite sophisticated, recent advancements have brought this unique interface technology into the hands of everyone with a smart-phone.

Real-time AR Production:

While VR enjoys its time in the spotlight as the mindless love child of Spatial Media, the true bread-winner continues to be Augmented Reality. In addition to the endless deluge of AR games and apps, AR-based tool-sets combined with a new generation of film resolution game engines, are renovating media production.

The steady increase in game engine performance has taken what once was a parlor trick for geeks, and turned it into the next big thing. The technique is widely known as Smart-Stages or Virtual Stages, and although is is little more than a super-sized version of an AR app, it is a telling indication that the technology of the gaming industry has been moving much faster than that of the film and broadcast industries.

By combining a green screen or Z-Depth camera with the advanced capabilities of a modern game engine, we can isolate physical elements such as objects or people and seamlessly combine them with the augmented graphic elements. This hybrid image creation is rapidly becoming a staple for visual effects-heavy television production. Another year or two at the hands of Moore's Law and it will begin to rewrite the book (a number of which Scott wrote) on motion picture production as well, and lead to the inevitable re-definition of what "Hollywood" means.

We designed the first commercial Virtual Stage for Universal Studios and have since developed a number of them that account for nearly half of the VFX production on high-end network, effects-driven shows.

Motion picture resolution AR

And lastly in our overview of AR production methodologies is Motion Picture resolution AR. Yes there is such a thing and it works really well. We'll use the $100 Million Dollar, Walking With Dinosaurs motion picture again because it is such a good example of the less dynamic aspect of Spatial Media (Stereo 3D) as well as a good example of the extensive range of applications that Augmented Reality provides in media creation.

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