April 29, 2019 infiniteretina

Spatial Computing Catalyst #5: The Movie/TV Studio of the Future at Intel’s Volumetric Dome

A revolution is happening in Hollywood. Decades ago movies were made with physical sets, cameras and lights run by people, with actors interacting with physical objects, er, props.

That Hollywood is quickly disappearing and here we visit the largest volumetric movie studio in the world to see just how.

The dome we visited can fit almost an entire basketball game inside with 100 high resolution video cameras aimed at the center of it, along with a datacenter of computers that hold the captured images inside, and let a new style of director build movies and TV shows in a whole new way for new devices that are just coming on the market now (virtual reality, 1k per eye today, with higher resolutions coming over the next few years).

At Infinite Retina we are studying how industry is changing, one of the industries that is already seeing massive changes due to Spatial Computing technologies (computing you, a virtual being, or a robot, can move through, like AR or VR) and Dave Smiddy, Head of Product at Intel Studios, details some of the changes that have already come to the movie/TV industry and how he, and Intel, which has put millions of dollars into this studio, sees the changes coming.

“We have seen growing numbers of digital artists and their jobs growing,” he says, showing where the job shift is underway. “All the backdrops are CGI,” detailing why the dome is green in color all the way around.

Costumes are digitized. “We are putting mocap suits on people.”

“The golden age of TV is back,” he says, while pointing out that these kinds of techniques let directors build rich stories with lower budgets thanks to this kind of technology. But then he talks about how people in the future might want to walk around movies and interact with the actors, who might not be actors at all. At Tribeca right now, for instance, Fable Studios is showing off Lucy, which is an animated entertainment experience where viewers can interact with the main character and walk around her world, and even pick up objects and play with them, sort of a hybrid of a video game and a movie.

“The areas which it gets interesting is where we combine AI with actors to create the end materials,” as we discuss the development of virtual beings like “Mica” that Magic Leap, which just saw another $280 million invested in it last week.

“It will be generated by massive amounts of compute,” he says, which explains why Intel is investing so much in this kind of studio. “Hollywood is about telling stories. This enables people to tell stories in immersive ways. Hollywood is on all platforms.”

“I’m very interested in how you mix reality with virtual reality. That creates really interesting opportunities for storytelling.”