NBC and Ross Video take Primetime AR to a new level


NBC Olympics’ efforts around HDR take augmented reality to a new level. NBC’s graphic design team and Ross Video’s Rocket Surgery Virtual Productions team worked closely to bring new realism to the augmented reality elements embedded in the prime-time setting on the Hilton Tokyo terrace. Odaiba.

NBC and Ross Video make sure AR elements appear for HDR viewers.

“One of the coolest things we’ve done is make augmented reality look so good in HDR,” says Michael Drazin, NBC Sports, Director, Production, Engineering and Technology. “We can fully integrate augmented reality and HDR. Ross supports the NBC LUT [look-up table], and they worked with AR lighting in the scene.

According to Bo Cordle, Ross Video, senior designer, virtual production, it took a good development effort from the graphics team at NBC and Ross, as they composed in such a way that they correctly conveyed NBC’s HDR camera feeds and correctly represented AR graphics in both HDR and in SDR.

The Voyager Engine, which is Ross Video’s version of the Unreal Engine, plays a key role in providing features such as glass simulation / refraction, reflections, ray tracing, and real-time shadows generated by sunlight. simulated geolocated with precision. Ross’s Lucid interface allows operators to quickly and efficiently call and adjust AR elements at any time. Stype RedSpy camera tracking is set up on a Technocrane and a Steadicam on the set.

Ross Video’s Chris Brown (left) and Bo Cordle manage the prime-time AR elements from the IBC.

Cordle says the two-rack flypack was designed specifically for the Olympics. It houses three Voyagers, two Xpressions, one Carbonite, one Ultrix and Opengear. He adds that the kit offers a lot of flexibility to do anything a graphics team imagines.

The racks are located at the IBC, about a mile from the hotel, and a protected data path ensures that the AR data is secure and reliable.

“This isn’t normally the case when you have a crawler camera so far away from the renderers,” says Cordle. “We do all the rendering here at the IBC. “

A return path allows the camera operator to see where the AR elements are placed in their plane.

“Cameramen are amazing and can bring creativity to compositions,” says Chris Brown, Ross Video, Technical Designer. “That’s what excites me the most. We are creating a more flexible tool so that we can meet the needs of the producer and the director.

Shadows bring new realism to AR graphics on the NBC Olympics set in prime time.

He notes that the tools built into Voyager and the Unreal Engine allow lighting and shadows to reflect the location of the sun. The system can also simulate cloud cover and even shadows cast by clouds passing overhead.

“He knows where the whole thing is in terms of longitude, latitude, day of the year,” says Brown. “He knows exactly where the sun is in the sky in real life. When we illuminate these elements, we can make sure that the shadows match the actual shadows that [host] Mike Tirico is the cast.

The work gives the AR elements more realism, which also means they look more natural and are less shocking.

Cordle says the NBC design team was aiming for a tasteful note with the AR graphics. “They are credible and they maintain the prestige of the Olympic Games as they are tastefully organized.”

In addition to working with NBC on the workflow, the Ross Video team also worked on improving realism. Brown says advancements over the past three months have taken things like refractions to a new level.

“Three months ago,” he says, “we were sort of pretending to be refractive. But, over the last month, we’ve been able to dial in that, and there’s just a tiny bit of refraction like you would with a real pane of glass.

The use of an assembly scale model, which was introduced in Voyager to allow the team to preview graphics in a virtual environment months before the actual assembly was built, was also vital. for the development process.

Brown says, “We were able to figure out how we would eventually use these charts even before we got here, which has been extremely beneficial. “


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