New StarTracker Mini and StarTracker Max

Mo-Sys announces new StarTracker Mini and StarTracker Max as company reveals exciting new development path. The two new StarTracker products are introduced together with an innovative exchange programme. StarTracker Mini will expand the Mo-Sys range, increasing its market reach to a new generation of Virtual Production creators, while StarTracker Max enables Mo-Sys to bring forward its improved camera tracking technology for professional broadcast and cinematic use.

Mo-Sys StarTracker, StarTracker Mini and StarTracker Max
StarTracker current generation (top left), StarTracker Max (top right) and StarTracker Mini (front centre)

Mo-Sys invented ‘simple-to-use’ marker-based optical camera tracking for Virtual Production (VP). The resulting product, StarTracker, went on to become the world’s best-selling absolute tracking solution for broadcast and film VP. Utilizing its unrivalled experience and knowledge of Virtual Production solutions, Mo-Sys has continued developing its precision camera tracking technology and can now reveal the results of its extensive R&D investment.

StarTracker Max - Virtual Production Camera Tracking
StarTracker Max

StarTracker Max promises next generation, high-resolution inside-out camera tracking and marks the beginning of an exciting new platform which builds upon the current trusted StarTracker technology. StarTracker Max will utilize an all-new, compact form factor 3x smaller and significantly lighter than the original. Together with a detachable processor for convenient handling, gen lock sync and 120-degree wide-angle tracking, StarTracker Max will deliver twice the tracking accuracy of the current StarTracker.

Furthermore, auto alignment technology will simplify set-up and ensure ultra-precise studio calibration. With rapid star map discovery, a new user-friendly interface (IOS and Android) and simple D-Tap power inlet, StarTracker Max is going to set a new standard for set-and-forget professional tracking.

StarTracker Mini - Virtual Production Camera Tracking
StarTracker Mini

StarTracker Mini is designed specifically for studio spaces with ceiling heights up to 3.5m and floor space up to 100m2. This new low-cost tracking system will use the same Mo-Sys lens calibration system as the current StarTracker, and is set to unleash the imaginative possibilities of YouTubers, Streamers and creative industries taking their first steps into Virtual Production.

Designed and manufactured in the UK by Mo-Sys, StarTracker Mini incorporates a robust wide-angle IR camera which is immune to studio lighting and provides the ideal solution for office-type virtual production spaces utilizing green screen, lower cost LED walls, or projectors. A powerful processing unit is integrated within the all-new miniature design for maximum freedom of unintrusive mounting to cameras, pedestals, jibs and gimbals. Mo-Sys will also launch an exchange program allowing StarTracker Mini customers to trade-in their Mini for a StarTracker Max as their business grows, protecting their investment in Mo-Sys tracking technology.

Demand for the StarTracker Mini is expected to be exceptionally high. To manage this, Mo-Sys has today opened its StarTracker Mini Priority Access Registration. Customers are invited to register their interest and will be contacted in order as stock becomes available. Selected registered organizations will also be invited to join the StarTracker Mini beta testing program.

Virtual Production Camera Tracking
StarTracker Comparison Table

StarTracker Max

StarTracker Mini

Studio Space

Max ceiling height

16+ m*

16+ m*

3.5 m

Min studio space

No lower limit

No lower limit

No lower limit

Max studio space

100 x 100 m (no explicit limit)

100 x 100 m (no explicit limit)

10 x 10 m

Min ceiling height

>0.3m from sensor*

>0.3m from sensor*

>0.3m from sensor*

Tracking Method

Ceiling retro-reflective stars

Yes

Yes

Yes

Floor retro-reflective stars

Yes

Yes

No

Digital stars

Yes

Yes

No

Lens

External encoders or VR lens readout

External encoders or VR lens readout

External encoders only

Accuracy

Rapid star map discovery

< 1s (nominal)

< 1s (nominal)

< 2s (nominal)

Store multiple star maps

Yes

Yes

Yes

Drift accumulation

None

None

None

Daily optical calibration

None required

None required

None required

Dimensions

Volume comparison

3 x smaller than original StarTracker

8 x smaller than original StarTracker

Sensor unit

7.5 x 7.5 x 7.5 cm

4 x 4 x 10 cm

6 x 6 x 6.5 cm

Processor unit

19 x 14 x 5 cm

10 x 10 x 4 cm

N/A - Processing happens on sensor unit

Weight

Sensor unit

390g

300g

400g

Processor unit

1450g

450g

N/A - Processing happens on sensor unit

with appropriately sized and spaced stars

Ravensbourne University kick starts Virtual Production training with Mo-Sys Academy

Ravensbourne Uni kick starts Virtual Production training with Mo-Sys Academy. The Academy team has established strong links with leading universities with the aim of transferring the company’s unrivalled knowledge of Virtual Production. This commitment supports the development of Virtual Production course modules, strengthening the quality of education universities can provide and ensuring students receive vital hands-on training which builds confidence as they prepare for exciting careers in Virtual Production.

Mo-Sys Academy training sessions

Ravensbourne is an innovative, industry-focused university with a reputation for producing highly employable graduates. The collaboration with Mo-Sys promotes the creation of a seamless link between education and the wider creative industry.

Ravensbourne University students, along with their practitioner teachers, were invited to Mo-Sys Academy for an access-all-areas, intensive introduction to Virtual Production (VP). Split over 2-days, Cinematography and Games Design students were introduced to the very latest VP technology. Working in small groups, students and teachers had the opportunity to learn from Mo-Sys’ talented on-set technicians.

Alex Boutellier, Senior Lecturer in Cinematography at Ravensbourne University London commented: “As an educator and practitioner, I found the Mo-Sys Academy to be a brilliantly compact introduction to Virtual Production. It also helped my students understand the technology and terminology of VP, as well as the skills requirements for the new job roles.”

Ravensbourne Uni kick starts virtual production training with Mo-Sys Academy
Mo-Sys Academy training sessions

Juliette Thymi, VP Technician and Head of Mo-Sys Academy added: “Ensuring students leave with the Virtual Production skills the industry so desperately needs – now and in the future – is at the heart of our programmes. Ravensbourne is among the education institutions that are proactively driving skills development and fulfilling the huge demand for Virtual Production learning. We are proud to support Alex and his colleagues in their work and look forward to the next opportunity.”

Mo-Sys is expanding its support of universities and will continue to offer these complimentary introduction sessions as part of its wider commitment to academic collaboration.

Since its inception the Mo-Sys Academy has gone from strength to strength, empowering students with Virtual Production knowledge which they are leveraging to maximise their career opportunities.

The Academy team have released additional course dates throughout summer 2022 and will soon announce a programme to be held at Mo-Sys’ Los Angeles Refinery.

For more information visit www.mo-sys.com/mo-sys-academy.

Innovation leads to revolution in Virtual Production

At an event to celebrate The Royal Television Society’s Awards on 23 March, Mo-Sys’ Product Manager – Remote Production & Image Robotics, Florian Gallier presented this year’s Creative Technology Lecture, titled ‘The Future of Broadcast is Virtual’. The lecture focused on virtual production, one of the fast-developing areas in the production sector as quantity increases, costs need to be controlled and sustainability prioritised.

The Future of Broadcast is Virtual at RTS Awards 2022

Gallier’s presentation highlighted how Virtual Production (VP), while not a new concept, is experiencing a surge thanks to recent innovations and advancements in technology that mean it can be achieved in real time using computer hardware aimed at the consumer market. This revolutionary shift means VP is often more cost-effective than building conventional sets and creates truly immersive content that captivates and holds viewers’ attention.

Recent examples of sets created using augmented virtually include Strictly Come Dancing during the Covid-19 pandemic, when audiences were absent; and the BBC’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics and Beijing Winter Olympics, which were based in Salford due to travel restrictions.

There is an environmental benefit to VP too, according to Gallier. With less travel and a reduced need to ship large quantities of equipment to various locations, the carbon footprint of a production comes down drastically.

The lecture, livestreamed to RTS members, was followed by a discussion with Gideon Ferber, Product Director, Broadcast at disguise which can be watched in full here:

The Future of Broadcast is Virtual at RTS Awards 2022 Q&A

Busting the Top 5 Virtual Production Myths

Mo-Sys commercial director Mike Grieve tackles popular misconceptions about the evolution of virtual production in this article by Little Black Book: Busting the Top 5 Virtual Production Myths!

virtual production myths
Busting the Top 5 Virtual Production Myths

Did you know that Disney+’s The Mandalorian used LED virtual production in order to bring its iconic galaxy far, far, away to life? You did? That’s probably because it seems to be by far the most talked-about example of virtual production, even years after the series first began streaming. But did you also know that The Mandalorian was far from the first time filmmakers used this technology?

While it’s true that the LED volume sets which the show used to create the otherworldly planets for Mando’s adventures were relatively new at the time, computer graphics based virtual production itself was not. In fact, it’s been around since as far back as 1995.

That’s because ‘virtual production’ is a term given to a whole suite of techniques which have been driving progress in the world of filmmaking since its inception. It includes motion capture, green screens, LED volumes, pre-visualisation, and any content production that includes tracked 3D computer graphics.

Tantalisingly, that also means that the aforementioned LED volumes do not represent the peak of virtual production’s potential. In fact, there are boundless ways that the technology can evolve (and is indeed already doing so).

If three decades of working in the production sector have taught me anything, it’s that you need to learn quickly. So, with that in mind, let’s tackle five of the most frequent misconceptions around the quickly-evolving world of virtual production.

Virtual production did not start with the Mandalorian

For all of the excitement currently surrounding virtual production, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was invented just 2 years ago. But if you’ve ever seen a classic Hollywood movie with moving backdrops speeding by a stationary prop car, you’ve witnessed virtual production techniques in action. Whilst we might think of that as primitive today, it’s not too distant a relation from the LED volumes which are commonplace amongst sets utilising virtual production in 2022.

Similarly, you’ve probably also seen virtual production make significant leaps forward in the past couple of decades. Audiences in the 2000s, for example, were captivated by Andy Serkis’ CGI-enabled turn as Gollum in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Motion capture is another key element of filmmaking technology which we can put under the virtual production umbrella. It also has roots tracing back to the 1960s, when the animator Lee Harrison III experimented with a series of analogue circuits, cathode ray tubes, and adjustable resistors.

So, far from being an entirely new technological innovation, virtual production represents the next step of an evolution which filmmaking has been undergoing since the first cameras started to roll.

Virtual production is NOT expensive

With any cutting-edge tech in film, there’s an expectation that it will initially be the preserve of big-budget Hollywood blockbusters. In the case of virtual production, this is a misconception further cemented by the ubiquity of examples such as The Mandalorian and 2019’s The Lion King.

But, whilst it’s true that virtual production is widely used in Hollywood, its usefulness doesn’t end there. In reality, the technology offers cost savings which will appeal to any production team. Think of it as a re-ordering of the overall production process; your 3D computer graphic assets are now prepared in full quality in pre-production, and your post-production compositing is the shoot itself. The saving is the reduced post-production time and the removal of on-set errors.

Also, the ability to make creative decisions earlier on in the process, will result in cleaner takes given that actors are present whilst those calls are being made, as opposed to fixing costly errors in post (or, even more inconveniently, with re-shoots). On top of that, virtual scouting eliminates the cost of travel and indeed our carbon footprints.

The true magic of virtual production, however, lies in the fact that it is not a cheap substitute for ‘the real thing’ – it is simply an alternative. As a 2020 report from Deloitte noted, “Hollywood may be reaching the limits of efficiency using the traditional production methodology. The mindset and toolset of virtual production can support not only better creative outcomes, but also potentially significant time and cost savings.”

And in this instance, what’s true for Hollywood is true for the rest of the industry, too.

Virtual production doesn’t all happen in a video game engine

In any good myth, there’s normally a hint of truth – and this is a great example. It’s absolutely the case that video game engines (most famously Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and Unity 3D) have provided the basis for many virtual production technologies. This is because these engines produce photo-realistic results and operate in real-time providing the ability to respond to filmmakers’ inputs instantly.

But ultimately, understanding the full picture comes down to the fact that ‘virtual production’ is an umbrella term used to describe a whole suite of filmmaking technologies. As well as these game engines, you also have incredibly practical techniques such as on-set finishing using LED volumes, and the aforementioned motion capture software among many others.

Modern filmmakers have the luxury of choosing from so many different virtual production techniques to bring their projects to life, from LED volumes to comparatively old-fashioned green screens, or even shooting with both simultaneously.

Virtual production wasn’t a solution to the pandemic

Like so many other things, virtual production’s use on film sets was accelerated – but not invented – by the pandemic. And it’s a certainty that these techniques will stick around as part of the industry long after lockdowns descend into memories.

Certainly, the remote capabilities of many virtual production technologies were the perfect solution to the restrictions of the past two years, and many filmmakers took advantage of them. But virtual production’s utility obviously extends well into the future.

In light of parallel advancements in technology – most notably the metaverse – there’s every reason to believe that virtual production will soon be (if it isn’t already) a staple in the toolkit of every filmmaker. To return to a familiar theme, the fact is that virtual production is not a compromise, it’s a set of tools which can elevate any filmmaking project.

Virtual production does not end with LED Volumes

Finally, perhaps the most important truth about virtual production is that it is, like any technology, constantly evolving and improving. Within our team at Mo-Sys, we’re seeing new innovations such as our patent-pending Cinematic XR Focus, which allows focus pulls between talent and a virtual object/avatar positioned virtually behind the plane of the LED wall. Think of what ‘digital doubles’ is and where this technology is heading, and you’ll see the relevance of Cinematic XR Focus.

Above: An explainer breaking down Mo-Sys’ new Cinematic XR Focus

And this is just one example of the potential which today’s virtual production technology has in store. Indeed, at Mo-Sys we are currently working on even more ways to build on what we’ve already achieved in the realm of virtual production. From smarter collaboration on a global scale, to even more integrated filmmaking allowing for truly interactive storytelling, our industry has yet to scratch the surface of what virtual production can achieve.

These are the ‘known unknowns’, and they’re precisely what makes virtual production so exciting. While we may not be able to predict exactly how the technology will evolve in the future, one thing’s for sure: filmmakers will be the winners.

Mo-Sys Virtual Production Learning Zone at KitPlus Show

Join us at MediaCity, Salford for the KitPlus Show on Thursday 23 June where Mo-Sys Academy will be setting up a Virtual Production Learning Zone. A series of short Virtual Production training taster sessions will be running throughout the day.

Mo-Sys Virtual Production
KitPlus Show Manchester 23 June 2022

Come along to discover our innovative solutions including:

  • StarTracker – widely recognized camera tracking system which uses retro-reflective stickers, randomly applied to the studio ceiling or the lighting grid, to define a star map.
  • VP Pro XR – dedicated XR server purpose-built for Cinematic XR on-set real-time production.
  • Cinematic XR Focus – pulling focus from talent to virtual objects positioned behind the plane of the LED volume.
  • Multi-Cam – VP Pro XR feature enabling seamless multi-camera switching to overcome the typical 5-6 frame refresh delay in LED volumes.
  • Mo-Sys Academy – learn Virtual Production from industry-leading professionals, featuring skills and techniques that are at the forefront of the modern film industry.

Mo-Sys will also be hosting a panel session at 11am on the main stage at the event on The Future of Virtual Production Training, discussing how to overcome the skills gap and maximise the opportunities of LED Virtual Production for Broadcast with panelists including Kieran Phillips of CJP Broadcast Service Solutions, Nicholas Glean from University of Sunderland and Adam Soan of Bendac.

The discussion points will include:

  • Background of LED Virtual Production
  • Maximising the opportunity – latest technological developments
  • The skills shortage & what the Mo-Sys Academy is doing to correct it
  • How are Universities pivoting to incorporate LED VP courses, what are their challenges and what support do they need/are they getting?
  • Virtual Production Learning Zone – Mo-Sys Academy

Mo-Sys Academy Virtual Production training achieves top marks from leading University

Mo-Sys Virtual Production training achieves top marks from latest graduates to have successfully completed their intensive hands-on practical VP training. 

Virtual Production Training
Mo-Sys Academy

Mo-Sys Academy collaborates with universities with the aim of transferring the companies unrivalled knowledge of virtual production for broadcast and film. This unique approach is geared to nurturing direct and meaningful two-way partnerships between the world-leading technology manufacturer and university teaching staff.

This successfully guides universities from the all-too-familiar media and broadcast courses, where staff may have some green screen experience, and rapidly develops an in-house virtual production knowledge base, empowering teaching staff with all the expertise and support to deliver outstanding, high-demand virtual production modules.  

“We have seen a boom in Virtual Production, and the greatest challenge facing the industry is finding people who understand the technology, with hands-on experience and knowledge of how to maximise its effectiveness,” commented Michael Geissler, CEO of Mo-Sys. “Our partnerships with education are vitally important. We are supporting universities and helping them fill this gap.” 

Curated and delivered by Mo-Sys Academy’s skilled team of virtual production on-set technicians, with an emphasis on small group practical learning in a supportive and friendly atmosphere, Mo-Sys training builds confidence and delivers valuable real-world experience. 
 
A series of modules exist from an introduction to virtual production, to a full 10-day virtual production foundation course. Staff from the University of Sunderland recently completed the foundation course. 

Nicholas Glean, Senior Lecturer in Video and New Media at the University of Sunderland added “This two-week course was brilliant! From the first day to the last it was packed with information and fantastic knowledge delivered by welcoming and friendly tutors in Juliette and Dominic. This was supported by experts who came into our sessions and helped us reach another level of understanding.

“I cannot recommend this course enough to university departments thinking about installing or who already have Mo-Sys technology. The course takes Virtual Production from theory into practical reality. Before the course, I had no prior experience in Virtual Production and  was extremely nervous. After the course, I feel incredibly confident about working in Virtual Production.”

Mo-Sys Academy
Nicholas Glean and other Mo-Sys Academy students receiving their certificates of completion

Hear from other attendees at one of the Mo-Sys Academy courses about their experiences in the video below:

For more information about Mo-Sys Virtual Production training, please visit Mo-Sys Academy

Mo-Sys leads the way with cinematic Virtual Production solutions at Cine Gear 2022

Mo-Sys Engineering will showcase how it delivers complete Virtual Production solutions for green screen or LED volumes. Visitors to the stand will see Mo-Sys’ award-winning VP Pro XR, its complete solution for Cinematic XR on-set real-time Virtual Production, in action combined with the next generation G30 gyro-stabilized remote head, which delivers precision movement and superior image stabilization.  

Virtual production solutions
Cinematic XR Focus

Mo-Sys will also join Adorama to discuss the latest Virtual Production developments in a roundtable discussion. Using a mini-LED wall set-up, Mo-Sys will demonstrate how its immersive Cinematic XR Focus feature enables focus pullers to seamlessly pull focus from real objects in the foreground, beyond the physical plane of the LED wall, to virtual objects  deep in the scene – or reverse focus pull if needed.

Mo-Sys to show Virtual Production Solutions at Cine Gear 2022

Mo-Sys VP Pro XR is the most versatile and up-to-date solution for cinematic Virtual Production. The system is integrated with Unreal Engine and supports both live or recorded workflows, using either green/blue screen studios or LED volumes. VFX compositing is made much easier as compositors have access to additional lens data (F-stop, T-stop, and shutter angle). The Mo-Sys G30 comes in a compact, 45-degree frame, allowing it to support virtually any broadcast or digital cinematography camera rig for precise movement and stabilization. 

Mo-Sys G30 gyro-stabilized remote head
G30 remote head

“As pioneers of Virtual Production technology we are passionate about giving cinematographers and broadcasters innovative ways of creating high quality, immersive content, said Michael Geissler, CEO of Mo-Sys. “With our complete VP solutions, which can include training, we put leading edge technology at customers’ fingertips, without making the transition to VP a complex process – in short, we give them the freedom to fully express their creativity.” 

Booth 381 Cine Gear Expo, Los Angeles, 9-12 June 2022

Mo-Sys and AOTO to show Multi-Cam LED VP Solutions at InfoComm 2022

At InfoComm 2022, Mo-Sys Engineering will underscore its ability to deliver complete packages for green screen or LED volumes.

Mo-Sys Multi-Cam Switching
Mo-Sys VP Pro XR Multi-Cam Switching

Mo-Sys will showcase its award-winning LED content server, VP Pro XR, Multi-Cam Switching and its precision camera tracking system, StarTracker, working in tandem with AOTO’s 2.3 pitch LED tiles. The demonstration will give InfoComm visitors the opportunity to see first-hand Mo-Sys’ unique Virtual Production solutions.

Mo-Sys developed Multi-Cam to overcome the typical 5-6 frame refresh delay experienced by all LED volumes when switching between multiple cameras. Multi-Cam enables content creators and broadcasters utilising LED Virtual Production to seamlessly switch between cameras, maximising the creative possibilities and increasing the production value of any shoot.

AOTO LED Tile
AOTO LED Tile

“More and more corporate customers are taking their production in-house as they realise the powerful impact compelling content can make as they engage with their audiences. Modern Virtual Production techniques provide a cost-effective way to increase studio capacity and enable corporate users to create high-end, cinematic quality content while allowing teams to push the boundaries of their creativity,” said Michael Geissler, CEO of Mo-Sys. “As a leading Virtual Production pioneer Mo-Sys can offer customers complete turnkey packages and provide the necessary training aimed at their specific needs – we are unique in our ability to provide everything you need to start creating amazing content, regardless of what your level of experience is.”

The combination of Mo-Sys and AOTO solutions gives broadcasters and corporate customers a straightforward way to leverage high quality LED wall backgrounds instead of a green screen, and to eliminate green spill issues completely.

Michael Huang, Senior Account Manager, AOTO Electronics Co. Ltd., commented: “We are delighted to partner with Mo-Sys once again at InfoComm. They are well known for their Virtual Production innovation, and our collaboration allows customers to benefit from complex technology made easy and create LED Virtual Productions using familiar workflows.”

As part of its strategy to drive forward the uptake of Virtual Production and fill the growing skills bottleneck facing the industry, Mo-Sys is also making its technology – and expertise in VP for the high end tv and film industries – accessible to universities and film schools. Through the Mo-Sys Academy programme, Mo-Sys provides Virtual Production courses delivered by skilled on-set technicians, enabling group learning for industry professionals, university lecturers and teaching staff as well as students.

Booth N963 InfoComm, Las Vegas, 4-10 June 2022

Banner image shows Mo-Sys and AOTO exhibiting together at NAB Show 2022 featuring the BBC’s Tokyo 2020 virtual set jointly designed by Lightwell BK Design Projects with AV integration by Moov.