Guest blog by Tyler Mayne, CEO of Mo-Sys partner company Evolve Technology
My company’s background is in supporting the live events industry, and we’ve been in the business for over a dozen years now. Our goal is to be our customers silent partner offering them the tools and technologies necessary to help them grow their businesses. We do this by offering equipment for Rent, Sale and Lease, backed up by our amazing technical team and Academy that offers factory-certified training curriculum. In addition, we work closely with key manufacturers to carefully evaluate the best equipment for our customers’ needs.
What we are seeing now is a tendency for the techniques from our industry to cross over into the movie and television production. Of course, studios are already experienced in using virtual elements and set extensions. But they have always done it in post: shoot the live action against a green screen and composite it all later, in a costly and time-consuming separate phase.
The new interest is in doing it live. The way we have been doing it for years. Studios are kitting themselves out with high resolution LED screens and precision motion tracking, so they can create rich visuals in camera, with a minimum of post. That is going to make production faster and more cost-effective.
What it depends on, though, is having the right technologies, and having people who understand the real implications of working on a film set. If you have a handful of Hollywood A-listers on set, you cannot afford to keep them hanging around while a bunch of technicians struggle to get it all working and aligned.
The best technologies are those which will reliably deliver with the minimum of set-up. Take motion tracking as an example.
This is absolutely central and critical to virtual and extended reality production. If the computers do not know, to a very fine degree of accuracy, where the cameras are and where they are looking, then the virtual images will not stay in the right place and the illusion will be instantly lost.
At Evolve, we say we are technology agnostic: we are only interested in stuff that works. We do the research, so you don’t have to. And, when it comes to motion tracking, we think Mo-Sys StarTracker works really well!
In its basic form, it needs no specialist staff or complicated set-up. You stick the stars (they’re reflective dots) on the ceiling, the tracking cameras and software find them, and off you go. Anyone capable of finding the power-on switch can drive it.
To get the very best out of the system you need to calibrate the lens to the software, so it understands the precise effect of focus and zoom on that particular piece of glass. We can teach a competent technician, who will be on set anyway, to do that in a day. That’s a skill they then have for life.
Mo-Sys is not the only motion tracking game in town. But what it does offer – apart from all the accuracy you need – is this simple user interface. Some of the others look fine on paper, until you realise you need a technician to come in and calibrate the system for you. Which is more cost, more inconvenience (especially at the moment, when international travel is not at all easy) and more sources of delay when your leading actors are ready to go – but one small but critical piece of technology needs an expert to set it up, and who can’t get to you until a week next Thursday. Much better to have the skills in-house.
In an industry of constant change and innovation, we feel that training is an essential part of a well-rounded, knowledgeable professional. Through our Academy, Evolve provides the best in education series, lectures and product demos in order to enhance the expertise in our ever-changing industry. Including the use of Mo-Sys StarTracker. We look forward to rolling out our new suite of classes designed to help transition live event technicians to the exciting virtual Film/TV market early this year.