Japan’s Virtual YouTube Celebrities Test the Waters in China

Japan’s most popular YouTube star is Kizuna AI, a virtual teenager with thigh-high socks and a pink hair ribbon, brought to life by an off-screen actress. Millions of fans follow Kizuna, the brainchild of Activ8, a Tokyo-based company. According to Activ8 founder Takeshi Osaka, what sets such so-called virtual YouTubers (or VTubers) apart is that “you can believe they actually exist.” To create Kizuna, Activ8 uses motion capture gear to create skits, music videos and game streams for its over four million subscribers. Continue reading Japan’s Virtual YouTube Celebrities Test the Waters in China

Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Verizon Media (formerly Oath) now has production studios located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, Sunnyvale and Taiwan. In addition, it built a 5G Los Angeles studio with plans to help pioneer new formats and production tech enabled by advanced 5G wireless connectivity. The worldwide facilities are being used by Verizon Media brands such as AOL, HuffPost, TechCrunch and Yahoo. The L.A. space — led by Verizon Media’s immersive media arm RYOT — is outfitted with full motion capture and volumetric capture stages. Continue reading Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Game Execs on Real-Time Engines for Film & TV Production

Over 150 million people are playing video games in the U.S., according to the Entertainment Software Association, and by mid-2018, games brought in more revenue than movies and music combined. So it’s no surprise that there is an increasing amount of cross-pollination between games and movies. At NAB 2019, 30 Ninjas partner Lewis Smithingham moderated a conversation among a group of game executives on the evolution of game engines and how they are becoming a more common tool for today’s film and television production. Continue reading Game Execs on Real-Time Engines for Film & TV Production

Rokoko Offers Up Motion-Capture Library in Unity Asset Store

Rokoko made its library of professionally produced digital motion capture assets available for purchase in the Unity Asset Store. Its SmartSuit Pro captures an actor’s movements, turning them into data that can be used to animate characters in games and movies. Unity Technologies, which makes the Unity game engine, offers pre-made assets to game developers who are looking to avoid the hefty price of professional motion capture. Assets in The Motion Library are available for as little as $1 and a $10 monthly subscription. Continue reading Rokoko Offers Up Motion-Capture Library in Unity Asset Store

Kaaya Haptic HoloSuit for VR Apps to Ship This November

Kaaya Tech reached its $50,000 Kickstarter funding goal for the HoloSuit, a wearable haptic controller for virtual reality. The company will start shipping the suit, available in several versions, in November. The top-end version, HoloSuit Pro, offers 36 sensors, nine haptic feedback devices and six firing buttons, spread across two finger-tracking gloves, a pair of pants with feet extensions and a jacket with a head extension. The lower end model offers 26 sensors, and comes with a jacket or jersey with haptics and buttons. Continue reading Kaaya Haptic HoloSuit for VR Apps to Ship This November

NAB 2018: Artificial Intelligence Tools for Animation and VFX

Tools powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning can also be used in animation and visual effects. Nvidia senior solutions architect Rick Grandy noted that the benefit of such tools is that artists don’t have to replicate their own work. That includes deep learning used for realistic character motion created in real-time via game engines and AI, as well as a phase-functioned neural network for character control, whereby the network can be trained by motion capture or animation. Continue reading NAB 2018: Artificial Intelligence Tools for Animation and VFX

Microsoft Opens Studios to Produce Mixed Reality Holograms

Microsoft is pitching its new mixed reality studios in San Francisco and London to developers and producers interested in creating holograms from real life objects. “Microsoft has been using its own studio at its Redmond headquarters to capture Buzz Aldrin, Reggie Watts, Max Frost, and Cirque Du Soleil performances and bring them into virtual reality and augmented reality holograms,” reports The Verge. The new studios will enable content creators to produce holograms for “regular 2D screens, a HoloLens device, or even Microsoft’s new Windows Mixed Reality headsets.” The company “is also expanding its Mixed Reality Academy program to San Francisco,” with workshops for “developing apps and experiences for VR and HoloLens headsets.” Continue reading Microsoft Opens Studios to Produce Mixed Reality Holograms

Beyond the Headlines: This Year’s Outliers of Interest at CES

If you look hard enough, CES is often the place to discover smaller, less publicized technologies and products that could become the seeds for something practical and useful to the ETC member companies. This year I came across several that fit this description, including a technology called SynTouch that could prove beneficial to haptic feedback R&D and physical product quality control, a simple and elegant method from ManoMotion to use hand gestures as a user interface, an OLED necklace that could lead to the launch of a social e-collectible marketplace, and a tiny chip from Chirp Microsystems that could provide a compelling motion capture solution. Continue reading Beyond the Headlines: This Year’s Outliers of Interest at CES

Must-See VR at Sundance: Volumetric Capture, Empathic Tales

At the Sundance Film Festival, the latest in virtual reality appears at the New Frontier, the Sundance Institute’s showcase for virtual reality, immersive cinematic works, and media lab innovations. 2016 is no exception, and the buzz is already out about some of the must-see virtual reality movies and experiences. Among them, “The Wasteland” from 8i is one recommendation. Other notable VR experiences at Sundance include “American Bison,” “Kiya” and “Wave of Grace.” Continue reading Must-See VR at Sundance: Volumetric Capture, Empathic Tales

CES 2016: Virtual Reality Headgear, Platforms, Ecosystems

Virtual reality began to dominate headlines last year at CES, and that drumbeat will only grow louder this year. Falling at the beginning of the proclaimed release window for two of the flag bearers of the VR renaissance, Oculus and Sony, and accompanied by a bumper crop of hardware and software suppliers, VR is ready to emerge from the shadows of the early adopters and meet the general consumer. We expect to see innovative products in January from companies such as Google, GoPro, HTC, NextVR, Sixense, Yezz and others. Beyond gaming and 360-degree video, we’ll be watching for new approaches to live streaming sports and music events. Continue reading CES 2016: Virtual Reality Headgear, Platforms, Ecosystems

CES 2016: VR, Game Platforms, eSports Coming to Las Vegas

The increasing interest in virtual reality and rise of the app stores are expected to help make gaming a hot topic at January’s CES. Coming off its crowd-pleasing debut at the show last year, and with its consumer launch only months away, expect Oculus to monopolize the floor. And with it comes an array of manufacturers hoping to add a new dimension to the immersive gameplay experience with new peripherals. Meanwhile, the widespread adoption of game systems as entertainment hubs has created a new pipeline for indie developers to reach consumers. And let’s not forget the rise of eSports. Turner Broadcasting certainly hasn’t, and will be bringing its largest-ever showcase to prove it. Continue reading CES 2016: VR, Game Platforms, eSports Coming to Las Vegas

SIGGRAPH 2015: Virtual Production, Cousin of Virtual Reality

At SIGGRAPH 2015, Autodesk executives David Morin and Ben Guthrie described virtual production, its relationship with virtual reality and some newly released tools from their company to aid in the process. Virtual production began with Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings,” got a bump of recognition with “Avatar,” and has been used on many films since. According to Morin and Guthrie, the process, which lets filmmakers create virtual worlds in-camera and composite CG and live action on set, is achieving momentum. Continue reading SIGGRAPH 2015: Virtual Production, Cousin of Virtual Reality

Industrial Light & Magic Creates VR/AR Projects in ILMxLAB

Earlier this summer, we reported that Industrial Light & Magic was launching its new ILMxLAB division to develop virtual reality and augmented reality experiences for movie fans. The experimental division has now shown off three of its VR and AR proof of concept projects. In addition, ILMxLAB houses a team from Walt Disney Imagineering that’s working on futuristic Disneyland attractions. None of it would be possible without ILM’s unique blend of creative staff, cutting edge technology and years of expertise. Continue reading Industrial Light & Magic Creates VR/AR Projects in ILMxLAB

SIGGRAPH: Faceware Unveils Live Capture for Gaming Engine

At SIGGRAPH 2015 in Los Angeles, Faceware Technologies, which creates markerless 3D facial motion capture solutions, demonstrated its Faceware Live plugin for Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4. With the plugin, developers for the UE4 will be able to capture facial movements with any video source and apply them immediately to digital characters. The Unreal Persona animation system displays the facial animation that takes place in real-time. The plugin was shown behind closed doors at SIGGRAPH. Continue reading SIGGRAPH: Faceware Unveils Live Capture for Gaming Engine

Microsoft Details How to Shoot for its HoloLens AR Headset

Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headset allows video — which can be streamed over the Internet — to be viewed from any angle, combining the real world with computer-generated imagery. Whereas a digital object can be rendered in 3D and easily shown from any angle, live action isn’t so accommodating. To that end, the Silicon Valley company just came out with a document giving specific directions on how to capture and handle live action footage for use with its AR headset.

Continue reading Microsoft Details How to Shoot for its HoloLens AR Headset

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