Best Practice: Zero Density and FOX Sports
FOX Sports already left a giant mark on 2019 with its first, brand new, state-of-the-art, multipurpose virtual studio in its U.S. Charlotte facilities. This high-tech studio marks a milestone not just for the channel’s long history but also changes the landscape of virtual studio production. FOX Sports chose Reality Virtual Studio to power its first ever virtual set while covering the most popular spectator sport in the United States: NASCAR.
60 x 60-foot physical studio with 50 x 47-foot green screen zone transforms into a massive 360° area that take in the entire race track inside to follow the race real close-up. Real-time data visualisation tools of Reality Engine enable the FOX team to showcase analysis of racetracks, cars and race-shops. With augmented reality, FOX team also hosts the complete set of race cars into the studio and even strip them to the single screw, offering unique insights to the fans.
Zero Density’s real time node-based compositing platform enables the most photo-realistic production, giving FOX Sports team the tools to create captivating and immersive content for the audience in a 360 degree environment.
FOX Sports employs five cameras, five Reality Engines for each camera and five more Reality Engines as backup. The real time visual effects are rendered by these engines for each camera view. The designers utilise eight Reality Editors which is used to design the virtual studio, and other virtual content and effects that will go live on the show.
This pioneer set is used seven days a week in a daily show called Race Hub and on the weekends there are pre and post shows, wrapped around NASCAR programming such as NASCAR Victory Lane and a weekend edition of Race Day and Race Hub.
Reality Studio Configuration tool enables the FOX Sports team easy navigation to load which project with which ‘.rgraph’ (Reality Engine compositing node graph) to any Reality Engine. Reality Studio Launcher loads Reality-Studio-configured set-ups to 10 separate Reality Engines at the same time with a single click. With Reality Engine Monitor the FOX Sports operator crew can oversee all systems pre, during and post show and intervene if necessary, from one screen. With Reality Action Builder, Fox team can create pre-defined action items that will be used On Air. These action items can be an animation or graphics fed by real-time data.
Chupinsky, Senior Designer at FOX Sports said that: “Every piece of Zero Density’s pipeline is vital to achieving the profound illusion of melding the virtual world with the physical – from their robust and flexible handling of camera tracking and lens data, powerful keyer, and compositing pipeline to their node-based setup, intuitive control application, and responsive and accommodating technical support. Zero Density, built upon Epic’s Unreal Engine, offers the most powerful features in real-time graphics, empowering the creation of photo-realistic environments. An additional benefit to being built upon Epic’s Unreal Engine include the vast online community and training resources.”
Initially founded as a research and development company, the aim is to identify the gaps in the industry and develop creative products to ﬁll these gaps. The disruptive product of Zero Density is shaping the future of media with every new release of its cutting-edge product Reality Engine.
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