How XR Stage Technology is Disrupting Production in The Entertainment Industry

In recent years, rapid technological advancements have shaped production in the entertainment industry. Particularly, the adoption of modern tools and techniques has boosted productivity, quality, and returns on investment. The use of an XR stage in production is one of the major causes of these positive outcomes. 

XR production techniques have led to the creation of engaging and interactive experiences for audiences. This has attracted several enthusiasts. Still, its impact stretches beyond audience attraction. This article highlights how the XR stage production is disrupting the whole production ecosystem in the entertainment industry.

What is an XR Stage?

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Various components are involved in the formation of an XR stage. In its broad sense, XR stands for Extended Reality. This definition encompasses all immersive realities in use today. Its setup includes several technologies that create engaging and interactive experiences for audiences.

Specifically, an XR stage can include virtual and augmented reality tools. These tools allow for motion tracking, position, and direction tracking, real-time rendering, and other cutting-edge operations. 

The goal of these stages is to enable producers to introduce interactive virtual elements in the physical world. As a result, the production quality of content made on stage and in studios has greatly improved. 

The Technologies Used in XR Studios

Films and TV shows have been the biggest beneficiary of XR production. This is evidenced by the rise in of creation of XR studios. In fact, the value of the extended reality market is expected to reach $394.8 billion by 2030.

There are specific useful technologies that have contributed to this growth. Let us talk more about them.

Immersive Technologies 

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There are a range of technologies that are described by this term. Typically, they simulate a highly realistic and engaging experience that immerses the user. 

They include;

Virtual Reality (VR)

VR is the oldest form of extended reality. It uses VR tools such as goggles or headsets to position the user in a digitally-simulated atmosphere. When you are in virtual reality, you experience a made-up world as if it were real. 

VR tools can create a fantasy or imitate the real world in digital form. It allows the user to feel present and also interact with the components of this virtual environment, albeit virtually rather than physically. VR technology tricks the visual, auditory, depth, and motion preceptors, thereby convincing the mind that the environment is ‘real’.

Augmented Reality (AR)

The word augment means to enrich. Therefore, in AR technology special tools are used to overlay digital information in the real world. The focus of this technology is to improve the physical world with the addition of elements that enhance your perception. These elements include videos, images, text, and graphics. 

AR technology relies on cameras found in smartphones or AR devices to process the physical environment and overlay virtual components to it. The technology depends on powerful processors that are programmed with Artificial Intelligence.

Mixed Reality (MR)

As the name suggests, mixed reality mixes the elements of augmented and virtual reality technologies. The outcome is a hybrid reality where users can interact with real and digital elements at the same time.

MR technology allows for interaction between virtual and real objects. This is done with the help of high-tech cameras, sensors, and other tools. Besides, the term is used in place of extended reality for the merging of VR and AR. 

Motion Capture 

 

This XR technology involves capturing and recording the movement of subjects in real time and translating these movements into data. In a studio setup, this data is then used to create animations that mimic the movements. 

To enable the mapping of movements, the subjects are rigged with special sensors that track their movements. Motion capture is used alongside other technologies like AR to visualize animated objects. In studios, motion capture is heavily used in the creation of Computer-generated Images (CGI) as well as other applications.

Real-time Rendering

Real-time rendering technology helps producers visualize mapped movements, positions, and other data as they are happening. Processing and rendering occur extremely fast, hence the name ‘real-time’. However, for your systems to do this, you will require exceptional computational power.

This technology enables the interactivity of elements as they are created, thereby cutting down on production times. Such a workflow cuts production time by almost half and increases production quality.

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Tracking Systems

Tracking technology involves various techniques used to follow the positions, movements, and orientation of objects or subjects. Unlike in motion capture, the techniques and tools used here are more generalized and diverse. 

They are used in all immersive technologies. There are numerous systems that are widely used in this technology. They include GPS, optical, ultrasonic, inertial, and magnetic tracking systems. XR studios use these systems mainly for navigational purposes.  

Disruptive Changes Caused by XR Stage Production

The introduction of XR stage technology in the production workflow has caused significant changes. For the most part, most traditional techniques have been impacted either positively or negatively. Let us look at some of these consequences.

  • Speeding up the production process. The ability to produce results that previously took forever to deliver in seconds has halved production times. Production happens much faster due to the reduction in time-consuming tasks. Particularly, the post-production process has been shortened by bringing those processes to the actual production.
  • Reduced need for huge production sets. In film production, sets needed to be expansive for subjects to interact with physical props. With the use of digital or virtual props, the space needed reduces remarkably.
  • Improved VFX in production. When producing content with XR, the visual effects are integrated in real-time. Furthermore, the ability to visualize effects in real time enables you to recalibrate and make necessary changes before the final cut.
  • Time and cost-effectiveness. When budgeting for expenditure, you typically include logistics costs, physical set fees, and operational costs. However, with an XR studio, most of these costs would not be necessary. Similarly, you will have reduced time it takes to travel, and set up equipment, thereby increasing your productivity. 
  • An iterative approach to the production process. XR production enables you to make immediate adjustments to scenes during the process, as opposed to conventional methods where that would be done in post. This real-time iteration makes refining content effective.
  • Better ways to rehearse and practice before shooting. Actors and actresses can use XR technologies to get familiar with sets, props and prepare for stunts. This kind of rehearsing is effective and also safe.

Extended reality is really shaping the ecosystem for the better. The above is just a highlight of the impact this technology has created. 

Essential Components of XR Stage for High-Quality Production 

There are specific elements that an XR production needs to be successful. Here are some of the common ones.

Performant LED Processors

Most XR stages and studios use LED video walls for displays. These types of displays are preferred for their high-quality performances. Still, these LED video displays need powerful processors to be able to handle the resource-heavy XR tools. 

Using performant LED processors will ensure smooth playback, immersive visuals, and reduced latency. 

Reliable Media Servers

Media servers are responsible for the storage distribution and playback of content. Given the high quality of extended reality content, media servers need to be reliable. The idea of being reliable means the servers should be optimal at all times. Actions like rendering and synchronization require minimal interruptions.

Responsive Render Engines

Responsiveness is an essential aspect required for rendering engines. Imagine the horror you would endure if a render crashes during the export of a huge file. Smooth rendering is also expected for processing outputs in real-time.

The benefit of having responsive render engines is a better experience for users and improved visual quality, efficiency, and overall quality of production.

Top Talent

 

Operating XR technology requires talented personnel that can handle the complexity of the systems. This includes skilled technical staff, seasoned producers, and experienced VFX artists. Having such a team will produce top-quality content and handle the systems appropriately. 

Talented performers also contribute to success, especially in the field of TV and film productions. They need to be adequately versed in these technologies to be in a position to perform at their best.

Why LED Wall is Better Than Green Screen for XR Production

 

The technical term for green screen is chroma keying. It can be used in XR production, especially where compositing techniques are needed. However, there are several reasons why LED video walls are much better backdrops for XR production. 

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These reasons include;

  • Natural lighting. LED video walls create realistically looking lighting integration for production sets. Realistic lighting helps actors visualize a more lifelike background compared to green screens, which are added in the final production. 
  • Real-time visual feedback. The ability of actors and set teams to see the virtual environment in real time allows for instant decision-making. Actors adjust to the surroundings immediately and naturally. Eventually, you will find that this instant feedback loop reduces friction on the set.
  • Improved color accuracy. There is an added degree of color accuracy with LED video walls when filming. Unlike green screens LED video walls have much consistency and blending that ensures colors are accurate.
  • Reduced post-production workload. With green screens, there are several manual adjustments needed to refine the footage. This includes replacing the green screen with the desired elements. This process is eliminated when you use LED screens, which saves you time.
  • Improved performance and quality. Extended reality enables a performer to be immersed and in tune with the environment. This is because, unlike green screens which rely on imagination, video walls produce real visuals that feel real. Such an approach leads to better performances and eventually improved quality.

LED video walls are all about quality and productivity enhancements. As a result, your production team in conjunction with the performers will have a much smoother experience on set.

Best Use Cases of XR Technology

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Applications of XR stage

There is a wide range of applications in the entertainment industry. Here are some of these uses and how XR is applied;

  • Film and TV show production. This is arguably the top application of XR technology in the entertainment industry. It is heavily used in the science fiction genre and dangerous stunts to produce stellar results. It also enriches shows with better visuals for viewer satisfaction.
  • Virtual conferences and events. Virtual reality helps event planners create interactive virtual venues, spaces, and booths. These spaces can be interactive via compatible devices. Virtual events like these reach wide audiences.
  • Live concerts. XR stages are quite common in the industry. Music performances, in particular, employ the use of AR and VR to create captivating visuals for audiences. The immersive experience greatly improves the concerts.
  • Coaching performers. XR can be used to train actors on stunt coordination, how to operate the XR tools and much more. This equips them with adequate skills before they get on set.

These are just a fraction of the potential of extended reality. Meaning, there are so many use cases you can adopt to your production workflow. Look up possible and relevant use cases that are applicable to your specific category.

Advantages of XR Technology

This technology is gaining popularity in production for its huge benefits. Some of them include; improved workflows, experiential learning, remote control, enhanced efficiency, and risk mitigation. 

The benefits are experienced both by the users and the owners. On one hand, the users have a more pleasing experience when using the tools. Similarly, as the owner, you will have an efficient system for producing various types of content. 

Another advantage is cost-effectiveness. While the initial acquisition cost can be considered high, the savings down the line help you recoup the initial investment.

Disadvantages of XR Technology

This technology is not without a flaw. However, most of the drawbacks are easy to circumvent and can be turned into strengths.

As you would expect, implementing a production-level extended reality studio is an expensive venture. The hardware, software, and talent needed to run this technology have a high price tag. But since the benefits outweigh the price tags, this can be considered a positive thing.

Conclusion

While still being at its infancy, extended reality has managed to disrupt an industry that has existed for over millennia. This goes to show you its potential to revolutionize production for the better. Without a doubt, the future looks bright for XR stage production in the entertainment industry.

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