Mo-Sys’ VP Pro XR system has been turning heads since it was launched, snapping up awards and earning endorsements from some well-known names in the industry.
Pocket Films met up with Mike Grieve, Mo-Sys Commercial Director, at the SMPTE UK visits… an On-set Virtual Production event to hear more about the technology’s success to date.
Tell us a little bit about VP Pro XR and the challenges that this technology is designed to meet.
VP Pro XR, which won a Production Hub Award this year and picked up the NAB Product of the Year 2021 accolade, supports XR production in LED volumes for real-time VFX film and TV production. We designed the technology with the aim of addressing the restrictions and compromises that producers currently encounter with XR stages.
Although XR volumes deliver cost savings by minimizing post-production compositing and lowering location costs, they have also introduced shooting limitations, and an output image that some find is not yet comparable to non-real-time compositing. This is the challenge that motivated the development of VP Pro XR.
VP Pro XR is an LED content server solution, purpose-designed to offer Cinematic XR capability, with a focus on composite image quality whilst offering unique cinematic features.
VP Pro XR is the first product release under Mo-Sys’ Cinematic XR initiative, can you tell us more about this?
The aim of our Cinematic XR initiative is to move final pixel XR production forwards, in terms of image quality and shooting creativity, from its initial roots using live event LED equipment to purpose-built Cinematic XR.
Cinematic XR is focused on improving image fidelity, and introducing established cinematic shooting techniques to XR. It promotes the interaction between virtual and real set elements, and the development of new hybrid workflows combining virtual and non-real-time compositing. These capabilities are being designed into the VP Pro XR platform.
First among these capabilities is Cinematic XR Focus, which has been recognised in the Cine Gear 2021 Technical Awards for its innovative technology.
Traditionally, the LED wall has been a passive part of the wider set, but now for the first time, we are enabling an LED wall to be used as more than just a backdrop. Instead, cinematographers can integrate LED wall visuals with the real stage and seamlessly rack focus deep into the virtual world to create layered images that enhance their visual storytelling.
Cinematic XR Focus synchronises a physical focus pull with a virtual focus pull, managing the transition at the LED wall so that the complete focus plane movement is seamless. It requires no additional action on behalf of the Focus Puller, and enables them to use a standard wireless lens controller – currently Preston but with other options coming soon.
NearTime is another pillar of Cinematic XR and was awarded the 2021 HPA Awards for Engineering Excellence by the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA). This feature solves one of the key challenges of LED ICVFX shoots, balancing Unreal image quality whilst maintaining real-time frame rates. Currently, every Unreal scene created for ICVFX has to be reduced in quality in order to guarantee real-time playback. Combining NearTime with an LED ‘smart green’ frustum, the same Unreal scene can be automatically re-rendered with higher quality or resolution, and this version can replace the original background Unreal scene.
NearTime operates in parallel to an ICVFX shoot and starts at the same time. It finishes after the real-time shoot but still within the real-time delivery window, meaning that a higher quality result can be delivered in the same time, with minimal increase in cost. No traditional post-production costs or time are required, plus moiré issues completely avoided.
How would you describe the industry’s reaction to VP Pro XR?
We have had a phenomenal response from customers and partners to VP Pro XR. ARRI Rental UK was the first to install and use this innovative technology at its new mixed reality studio in Uxbridge, west of London along with our StarTracker system. This is now one of the largest permanent LED volume studios in Europe and we are so proud that Mo-Sys technology lies at the heart of it. Our technology is designed specifically for real-time final pixel shooting, to deliver cinematic quality imagery, with clever unique features and technology geared to Cinematographers.
VP Pro XR has also been deployed by London’s Garden Studios for its state-of-the-art virtual production (VP) stage installed in March 2021. Garden Studios, which already has a Mo-Sys StarTracker system and uses the VP Pro software for its main LED volume, now benefits from set extension (XR) capability, offering clients additional creative capability. The facility recently added a second StarTracker camera and lens tracking system to support its ongoing R&D and expansion.
We have also picked up a number of prestigious industry awards for VP Pro XR as well as for new features like Cinematic XR Focus and we could not be prouder. The VP sector is in an extremely exciting stage in its evolution, and we are thrilled to be at the heart of this new direction.
This article was first published on The Studio Map website.