Blog: Innovating the way for the insurgence of xR


Under normal circumstances, our Innovations

team would currently have been over in Amsterdam, showcasing at IBC for the

third consecutive year. However, like so many other 2020 events, the show has

had to undergo a complete transformation and has been going ahead as on online

showcase this week.






Traditionally, IBC welcomes the leading broadcast, media, and entertainment professionals from around the world and has given us the perfect platform to launch our pioneering new technical AV solutions. In 2018 we previewed a scientific experiment of sorts – the very first conception of our SmartStage, in the IBC Future Zone. An iteration of this technology had already been seen in action earlier that year, as ‘The Cube’ – an immersive, mixed-reality studio, utilised by Discovery Eurosport for international coverage of the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games. This project, which we delivered alongside technical partners disguise and Deltatre, subsequently scooped the coveted IBC Innovation Award for Content Creation in 2018, along with other prestigious industry awards. Combining state-of-the-art LED display solutions, with dynamic augmented and virtual reality content, the judging panel felt that The Cube represented the cutting-edge of technology poised to revolutionise the industry.






  • R+D at WL Premises 2017

  • R+D at WL Premises 2017

  • R+D at WL Premises 2017






Informed with the learnings from ‘The Cube’, our Innovations team conducted an intense period of R+D, to pioneer the worlds first xR immersive production environment. Last year we returned to IBC, this time in a main hall, to launch our developed SmartStage product, which by then was already being deployed globally as a solution for the broadcast, corporate and education markets. SmartStage offers a fully immersive video environment, transcending the capabilities of green screen, to bring content to life for both presenters and audiences to naturally interact with like never before. Powered by disguise xR, we had pioneered a game-changing new innovative workflow, based on a robust broadcast-grade infrastructure, and designed to meet the challenging demands of 24/7 live operation.






Fast forward another year and we have seen a widespread insurgence in

the adoption of virtual production technologies, and SmartStage has been

leading the way. In the current climate, where communication must

pre-dominantly exist in a virtual world, this solution has offered endless

possibilities for many different sectors to maintain vital connections with

their audience.






During these past months, SmartStage

has enabled broadcasters, corporations, artists, associations, and

influencers to achieve authentic engagement through exciting,

innovative experiences, all within its virtual and therefore

completely safe, setting. This includes hosting the staff of NHS

Bedford for an exclusive live comedy night, reuniting King Nun

frontman Theo Polyzoides with his fans in an intimate live concert and allowing YouTuber Tom Scott to launch Disconnected – his brand-new trivia game show.






  • Tom Scott – Disconnected

  • Flux – Theo Polyzoides

  • Leaders in Sport






As we look ahead to 2021 and hope for the return of the physical IBC show, Andy Hook, our Technical Solutions Director shares his predictions for the further evolution of xR: “Since previewing SmartStage at IBC back in 2018 we’ve seen an explosion in virtual production across the film and television industries. We are proud to have become the world leaders in designing, installing, and supporting these xR environments across the globe and we are excited by seeing how our clients use them. Finding new ways to support these uses is what drives our constant R&D and it’s been particularly exciting in the last 12 months, especially during the pandemic, to see education, corporate and events clients embrace the technology to help them produce more engaging remote meetings, classes and presentations.






  • Eurosport Cube – US Open 2020

  • Michigan Ross SmartStage – Remote Learning






As we see render power increase,

workflows become easier, real-time content engines become ever more powerful

and technology becomes more affordable – we are excited to help more of our

clients embrace the benefits of xR and virtual production.






Volumetric video capture and

improved tracking and interaction tools are going to allow us to take the next

step in how we collaborate in xR environments and analyse content – for example

in sports or news broadcasts.






I’m a great believer in the fact that AR technology will develop so quickly and become so ubiquitous in our day to day lives that we will rely on content augmented over our vision, in the same way we’ve adapted to mobile phones today. This consumer acceptance of AR and the tools available to create and interact with this content will put pressure on broadcasters to produce richer and more engaging content – perhaps even (as we’ve started to experiment with) content which viewers can interact with, or produce their own in-room version of. Broadcast studios will continue becoming more immersive virtual worlds, and xR allows those virtual worlds to become visible to the talent, which I believe is going to be key to the amazing innovations we’ll be working on over the coming years.”






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