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Revolutionising Virtual Set Production

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Brainstorm Multimedia has spoken exclusively to Broadcast Film & Video this issue, to discuss how they are transforming Virtual Set production within the broadcast industry.

You are known to say that your company, Brainstorm Multimedia, is revolutionising Virtual Set production in the Broadcast sector. Why?

We really believe that our company is making a difference in how virtual set and real-time 3D graphics are produced. The best proof is the recent release of our award winning Infinity Set, a virtual studio solution that includes unique features patented by Brainstorm such as TrackFree and Video Tele Transporter. Both of these enable operators to go beyond the current limits in virtual set technology to produce even more visually impressive and highly engaging TV programs and effects on the screen. Brainstorm has been pioneering virtual set technology for more than twenty years and we continue to be at the forefront in this sector of the market.

What do you mean by TrackFree?

TrackFree is a totally new and revolutionary approach to virtual set production. It is a camera-tracking independent technology which combines the best of both complex tracking and trackless systems. With TrackFree, broadcasters are able to combine the precision and high quality of tracking systems at the cost of a trackless system, and with matching flexibility and user-friendliness.

The concept of the Video Tele Transporter sounds right out of science fiction. How do you see it being used?

Our Video Tele Transporter allows users to insert a presenter inside a real scenario as if he or she was "transported" there. This feature seamlessly combines 3D virtual sets with real characters and live or pre-recorded video feeds, all moving accordingly with precise perspective matching. This allows presenters, as well as other content, to be inserted into videos from remote locations. So, the presenter is actually in the Infinity Set virtual studio environment at the broadcast facilities. And with our Tele Transporter the presenter then become a "virtual traveler", transported to and inserted in, say, a football stadium during a match between Real Madrid and Barcelona to report from pitch-side. Or be teletransported to Washington to report from within the Oval Office, or for that matter, from any other place around the globe using live tracked feeds or pre-recorded content.

The Video Tele Transporter feature seems to be a very unique feature. Do you recommend it to every user?

Brainstorm's Video Tele Transporter is Infinity Set's most advanced feature and unique in the market. It is intended for experienced users who want to take their already high-end productions to new levels, enhancing program content and captivating their viewers. And at the same time differentiating themselves from their competition. No other virtual set provider can match this feature. Nor can they match Infinity Set's other key features, TrackFree and 3D Presenter, which are very appealing to those customers who want to start with a very affordable and easy-to-use Infinity Set system.

What's 3D Presenter?

Our 3D Presenter is a brand-new technology that enhances realism of the talent inserted within the virtual set. We achieve this by generating a true 3D representation of the live presenter from a video feed, creating a real-time 3D volume that is continuously regenerated, repositioned and remapped based on the camera parameters. This means that the presenter is not a simple superimposed 2D sticker over the 3D virtual studio environment, but an actual 3D object embedded within the virtual set. Much like any composition from Aston 3D, our graphics creation, CG and playout solution, may be inserted in the virtual scene.

What difference does being a 3D object make?

It allows the presenter to be seamlessly inserted within the 3D studio environment and interact with both real and 3D elements within the scene. For example, shadows over a real desk and simultaneously with reflections on a virtual floor. Manipulating the depth of field relative to the presenter is also now possible so, as another example, the background could be de-focused. All this creates much greater realism that has been possible to achieve until now. And the shadows, reflections and depth of field manipulation cannot be done with the usual overlaid sticker we are so used to seeing as a representation of the presenter in other virtual sets. Once again, only Brainstorm can do this – and, what's more, do it without the help of tracking systems with their associated cost and complexity!

You mentioned Aston 3D, Brainstorm's other flagship product. How does Aston integrate with Infinity Set?

Aston 3D, our 3D graphics solution, shares the same render engine that we use for Infinity Set. Therefore Aston compositions can be seamlessly inserted within the virtual set as part of the scenario, instead of being simple overlays. They can be edited within the set and their enhanced integration allows for greater realism and visual impact. They can also be controlled from external applications and news systems in the same way as if they were standard full screen graphics.

What more can you tell us about Aston 3D?

Aston as a brand has been around for 40 years and has been a staple of CG and 3D graphics since its inception. Brainstorm purchased Aston in 2009 and enhanced it with top-of-the-line shaders and materials, as well as Brainstorm's patented StormLogic, the best logic engine in the market as far as flexibility and speed is concerned.

How does Brainstorm integrate with third-party solutions?

Both Infinity Set and Aston 3D are fully compatible with and can effortlessly import a variety of standard 3D, movie and picture formats. Being also MOS compatible and dual channel ready, Aston 3D integrates seamlessly with collaborative environments such as newsroom systems, video servers, NLEs and other third party applications to quickly and easily produce stunning graphics in a wide range of demanding requirements including fast turnaround news and sports environments, through to branding, finance, weather, elections, game shows and other graphics intense real-time on-air programs.

What does the future have in store for Brainstorm?

We plan to further enhance Infinity Set and Aston 3D, consolidating them as references in the market. Our heavy investment in R&D will continue, and we will continue to pride ourselves in being an independent company controlling our own destiny. Our aim has always been to push boundaries and to strive for perfection. Yes, what we have now is great, but there is always room for improvement. Our desire to improve ourselves, to look beyond what is expected from us – is what defines us. That's Brainstorm.
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