Olivier Cohen has been pioneering advanced technology solutions for virtual graphics since 2004. He serves as the Senior Product Manager for Live Production Solutions at ChyronHego, managing the strategy and product roadmap for products like our Virtual Graphics family for which we just announced a partnership with leading gaming developer, Epic Games.
The partnership with Epic Games will allow integration of their Unreal Engine with ChyronHego’s suite of augmented reality graphics and virtual set solutions. With this integration, news broadcasters using our Plutonium Virtual Graphics Solution can leverage Unreal’s rendering power and real-time special effects capabilities to add powerful hyper-realistic elements into their live virtual sets.
I sat down with Olivier and asked him about what led him to identify this key technology partner and what we can expect next:
Tell me about some of the trends happening in augmented reality and virtual sets. OC: Augmented Reality and Virtual Sets have been around for a long time. They are now a much more mature technology than 12 years ago when they started out in the Media and Entertainment market. The explosion of needing new, exciting video content combined with the fact that content producers and broadcasters have to produce more with less, Virtual Set and AR becomes an obvious choice. Other factors that come into play are the audience age is inverting. Younger viewers and millenials have different expectations for content. Content has to be more eye candy, more interactive (at the edge of video games), more of a blend of news and entertainment. This is why we see more and more of the use of virtual sets and AR. This totally blends real and virtual.
Explain why to consider adding virtual graphics to a production. OC: Virtual Sets allow us to use the same physical space and create infinite worlds in which to tell stories. So we push the real world and will push the limit of the producer’s imagination. Augmented Reality allows us to immerse 3D Graphics into TV Set environments allowing us to tell stories in different ways. You could literally bring the subject of news, sports, or weather inside the studio. For example, let’s take a hurricane which is a fascinating and dangerous weather phenomenon; if you were doing a weather story, you could simulate – with a degree of reality – a hurricane formation right in the middle of your stage. Same way if you were to show a rocket launch, a model of a missile, and so on. This keeps younger viewers attracted to consume information as it really brings a sort of blend between game and news.
Tell me about the advantages partnering with a gaming company brings to the broadcast virtual graphics space. OC: Working with a gaming company extends possibilities. Their extensive work on real time rendering engines allows broadcaster to take advantage of photo-realism, particle effects, virtual characters, and so on. As the needs of broadcasters are changing, special graphics effects and features are becoming the norm; with that in mind, we had to find the best game engine and translate its use into Media and Entertainment applications that will excite audiences.
How will virtual graphics improve by using a faster rendering engine? OC: Faster and more advanced rendering will benefit virtual graphics through the possibility of photo-realism, better shaders, faster rendering, and HDR environments. These are just some of the features game engines are bringing on the table. Secondly, I would say that features like particles will allow content to be more attractive through better storytelling. The use of real life physical phenomenon to tell stories can really draw the viewers in. How would you tell a story about massive fire in California without showing this fire? How would you speak about hurricane without representing the wind? This kind of technology allows us to bring real life events right into the studio. Last but not least, a game engine allows for virtual character representation. You could envision bringing an avatar of a famous personality into your studio to simulate an interview or represent them in your shows.
Unreal Engine will be utilized through the ChyronHego Virtual Set and Augmented Reality solution, Plutonium. The first version of Unreal Engine shared memory combination will be available by October 2018.
Read the press release about the ChyronHego & Epic Games partnership here.
To see how station WBTV integrated virtual graphics into their workflow and became the news-ratings leader in Charlotte, North Carolina, click here.