Marcus Brodersen, CEO at The Future Group AS, creators of Pixotope, the world’s leading mixed reality solution for live media production, on why mixed reality and virtual production will become mainstay technologies in the 21st century.
One of the biggest takeaways from 2020 has been the clear acceleration of the adoption of mixed reality and virtual production methods and technologies, not only in media production but also in corporate events, communication, and big data visualisations.
The pandemic has forced everyone to re-evaluate how we work, and those methods that favour virtualisation over physical deployment have naturally come out at the top. This has greatly accelerated the existing trend of digital over analog and virtual over physical, and we see no signs that this trend will slow down in 2021.
While the team at Pixotope, in the short to mid-term, is focusing on mixed reality (MR) and virtual production (VP) for traditional video, film, and live event production, the same trends also clearly apply to new media, such as AR and VR for Head-Mounted Displays (HMD), mobile AR and other new methods of consumption currently being dreamed up.
New media bridge
We believe the big commercial breakthrough for these new experiences will largely be brought on by more traditional media production adopting the same tools and methodology, which creates a natural bridge to the new media as they become viable products in the future.
At the same time, we believe that to win back younger audiences and have a future, traditional filmed media needs to offer up content and advertising models that successfully combine the emotional impact of high-end film and broadcast production, with the interactive, individualised, social and programmable aspects of online media. This is where the true power of mixed reality and virtual production come into their own right – the financial incentives and technological advancements have now reached a point where this seems inevitable.
While the production of filmed entertainment has been using digital tools for a long time, the experiences themselves are still largely analog, as opposed to video games, social media, and web browsing. The disconnect between the largely digital lifestyle of people and the analog nature of traditional filmed entertainment puts the filmed entertainment business under pressure, something that is clearly shown in advertising spend and viewership surveys.
The digital lifestyle – especially among young people – creates new consumer habits. For instance, consumers want specialised content at a lower price. They also want content that’s live (up to date), personalised, platform-agnostic, on-demand, social, and interactive. To ensure these new demands are met, and to combat loss of viewership and advertising revenue, content owners, media producers, and distributors, need to focus on multiple challenges.
By leveraging mixed reality technology, there are many ways to create more content and at a lower cost, including ways to leverage user-created content. Studios can virtualise production and consumption so that it can take place anywhere and be consumed anywhere. They can offer a programmatic advertising ecosystem for video-based advertising and offer the option to personalise content and advertising.
It’s also important to have data-driven ideas that ensure the content appears “fresh” to viewers – the consumer data provides insights into what works. Then, you can automatically create versions and distribute the same content on multiple platforms and mediums which, in turn, are shareable by viewers. In the current age, content must have varying degrees of interactivity too, which brings us on to the best technological solutions available to attain these ideas in practice.
Mixed reality technology will help content owners and media producers meet these challenges. As a software-based solution, it fits well with Video over IP and virtualised infrastructure. Virtual assets are easily reused, moved, duplicated, versioned, and edited, with large bodies of data and machine learning insights easily visualised in real-time. All of this helps to create new types of content that are live and up to date, and it solves the issue of accessibility, running on different platforms and devices.
Mixed reality technology is based on open standards and easily available tooling, enabling the democratisation of content creation. All content can be rendered and presented to viewers by market segmentation in the cloud or on devices, with the content controlled through automation.
MR tech tomorrow
In the near future, we will see great technological development in multiple areas, leading to the rapid adoption of mixed reality and virtual production methods for media production. There will be huge developments in the automatic and real-time elements of mixed reality technology.
This includes the sampling and analysis of physical world data through computer vision and machine learning and the collection and aggregation of digital data through Big Data systems. Additionally, the real-time generation of virtual objects and worlds through game engine technology and procedural content generation tools will be possible, alongside a combination of digital representations of physical and virtual realities through specialist mixed reality systems. Studios will gain access to production and consumption platforms anywhere.
We believe mixed reality and virtual production will become some of the mainstay technologies of the 21st century, in the same way radio and television were in the 20th century – and we believe that filmed entertainment will be the primary vessel for making that happen.