November 14, 2017

Dimension; Europe’s astounding volumetric capture studio for immersive content

Digital Catapult, in collaboration with immersive media company Hammerhead and Microsoft Mixed Reality Capture Studio, has launched DimensionTM, a state-of-the-art volumetric and 3D capture studio for the next generation of immersive content. Based in London, Dimension ascribes six years of Microsoft research and is one of only three such studios globally, along with Microsoft’s own Mixed Reality Capture Studio in Redmond, WA and their recently launched San Francisco location.

Volumetric Capture is a promising means of digitizing humans for VR and AR. Using a large number of cameras — 106 in this case — an actor or artist’s performance can be captured at exceptionally high resolution, and then digitized as a 3D asset that can be placed into any kind of experience from VR and AR to standard 2D video or 3D playback on tablets.

The most robust solution for volumetric and mixed reality video capture

Dimension provides state of the art facility for the rapidly expanding immersive technology and content. It has taken a revolutionary stride with exceptionally unique ideas for the creation of virtual humans. The result is a virtual character that reaches photorealism not just in facial expressions and animation but even to the finest details like the way clothes fold as the character even subtly move.

On a 2D touchscreen, 3D model can easily be dragged around during playback just as any other asset and in VR these characters will appear almost life-like.

Design

Dimension is circular, with performers in the middle of the area, saturated in bright lights. It is surrounded by eight microphones and cameras lined along pillars starting at the floor and reaching all the way up to cover the roof.

Just outside of the rig is a space the performance is streamed to on a TV and various computers and machinery are settled away behind a desk on one end of the room. The lighting is intentionally flat, meaning it’s easy for studios to implement their own lighting effects to fit a virtual scene. It can also be adjusted during the performance according to the exact conditions need to be created.

Other applications

Dimension is not only a dream come true for film makers but Dimension has valuable applications across many industries, including games, TV, film, fashion, digital manufacturing, health and education. Digital Catapult, Hammerhead and Microsoft claim and are more excited about its usage, especially in the healthcare industry. For instance, it can capture highly-detailed scans of a patient’s injury for assessment training.

The studio will be working Sky VR, among other broadcast partners, to produce exclusive experiences within drama, sport and documentaries.

Production and animation houses can book the studio on a commercial basis. It is also accessible to researchers working in the immersive field. To further expand the limitations of immersive content and technology, Dimension will prove to be a contributing valuable asset to the UK’s research base.

Conclusion

Dimension is not some fancy projection of technology that one day may revolutionize VR, nor is it an expensive PR stunt or developer kit that may never be within the reach for practical use, it is actually a genuine tool that content creators can use right now; Hammerhead says it’s already got shoots booked for November, with initial customers. The company also considers this as an attraction hub for Europe in general that customers will travel for, and it’s quite obvious why.

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