COVID-19 has severely limited this year’s calendar of live events so far, but things are beginning to change as we enter the second half of 2020. With some sporting events already taking place behind closed doors and audiences restricted to watching the action on screens, could 360° content offer broadcasters, sports leagues and rights owners with a unique way to engage and connect with fans, and enable immersive and highly personalised viewing experiences?
Join MediaKind, Tiledmedia and Focal Point VR on Wednesday June 17 for an exciting deep-dive discussion around live 360-degree content, exploring how it can transform the way viewers experience live events in ‘The New Normal’. Discover how 360° video can be captured, produced, streamed and delivered to enable best-in-market quality for live VR streaming to existing headsets and mobile devices, at the lowest possible bitrates.
A panel of Christopher Wilson, Market Development, Sports, MediaKind; Rob Koenen, Founder & CBO, Tiledmedia; Jonathan Newth, CEO, Focal Point VR; and moderator Chris Pfaff, Founder and CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC, will discuss real-life applications of this technology across live sports, theatre productions, music events, concerts and more.
Register now to learn more about 360° technology and how it enables:
New interactive consumer experiences through simple, cost effective and scalable 360°-as-a-Service deployments
Service providers to connect with audiences and enable impactful, immersive experiences that cut close to ‘being there’
Focal Point VR Ltd are delighted to report the successful conclusion of the trial phase for the ‘Virtual Veronese’ project in conjunction with the National Gallery and Royal Holloway, University of London. Virtual Veronese is ‘a first of its kind’ R&D prototype created in collaboration with StoryFutures, based at Royal Holloway, University of London. The experience was produced as part of the £80 million Creative Industries Clusters Programme, which is funded by the Industrial Strategy and delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Many of the National Gallery’s paintings would have originally hung in spaces that are very different to the gallery setting they are in today. Paolo Veronese’s ‘The Consecration of Saint Nicholas’ was commissioned in 1561 as an altarpiece to hang in the church of San Benedetto al Po, near Mantua, Italy. During the recent two-week trial, visitors to the National Gallery were able to experience the history of this Renaissance masterpiece in a completely new way. Through the prototype, visitors experienced new forms of immersive storytelling to understand what this painting would have meant in 16th century Italy. With the inquisition at the height of its powers, a Catholic Church anxious about growing Lutheran influence, the public heard how the simple commissioning of a painting was a powerful act of loyalty to Rome. As a guide to this experience you could choose either Veronese’s patron and Abbot of San Benedetto al Po, Andrea Asola (played by a modern actor); or, The Howard and Roberta Ahmanson Fellow in Art and Christianity at the National Gallery, Dr Rebecca Gill.
Focal Point VR designed and built a custom Stereoscopic AR video capture rig specifically for the project. Filming covered Dr Gill and also the actors playing the renaissance monks. Working with scriptwriter Catherine Skinner, Focal Point VR produced Augmented Reality versions of the experience for the Magic Leap and Mira headsets. These allowed the public to see the real painting set in the recreation of the 1562 chapel and to watch the stories unfold with real video located in the scene. A further trial was run with Oculus Quest headsets to give comparative research in Virtual Reality.
Focal Point VR developed the entire application and worked closely with teams at the National Gallery and StoryFutures to ensure the smooth, public operation of AR & VR headsets.
Ian Baverstock, Chairman of Focal Point VR said “The opportunity to tell the story of this amazing painting was a great challenge. We wanted visitors to understand the political and religious significance of the art but in a short, intense experience. Most of all, we really wanted the viewer to directly connect the painting on the gallery wall in front of them with the dramatic developments in European history that it symbolises from 400 years and 2000 miles away. Using AR or VR based on the painting is a great way to make that connection“.
Lawrence Chiles, Head of Digital Services at the National Gallery said “We’re thrilled to bring this exciting research project to fruition, which helps achieve our ambitions for innovation at the Gallery. It will help us understand how our visitors respond to new technologies and enable us to tell the stories behind our art in new and compelling ways”.
Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures, said “We hope this gives visitors to the National Gallery a real feeling for the magic and transformative nature of what immersive storytelling can do. This is research that tests out the potential for immersive storytelling to engage audiences in new ways and showcases the brilliance of companies in our creative cluster like Focal Point VR”. Will Saunders, Executive Producer said, “we hope audiences will love this experience and that StoryFutures’ work can help organisations like the National Gallery adopt cutting edge technology and innovation in story form to help the UK become a world leader”.
Initial responses from its audience testing in the gallery are overwhelmingly positive. One art and history teacher stated… “It brought the era of the painting to life, I’d love to use this with my students”. Another gallery visitor said, “I really felt I was in the church with the monks”.
‘Virtual Veronese’ was live in the National Gallery from 23rd July through to 5th August 2019.
Focal Point VR Ltd will be back at IBC partnering with Livewire Digital to show the latest additions to our full 360 and Stereo live VR camera solutions.
We are extending our range of studio grade VR video acquisition solutions with brand new rigs based on the IO Industries Victorem 4KSDI-Mini cameras. The new rigs offer customisation of numbers of cameras and types of lenses along with full remote control of all camera functions. The Sony based Global Shutter sensors give excellent high frame rate, low light, performance. Each camera has a 60fps, 4096×2160 output that, when stitched live with Focal Point VR’s Stream Processor, can give a real-time total output of over 8K at 60fps in 10bit!
We’ve also been trialing new lens configurations for the new rigs, as well as our existing Blackmagic designs rigs, including: Entaniya, Fuji, Sigma, Kowa, Sunex, iZugar and Laowa lens.
If you want to talk to the best in the business for live streaming 360 and Stereo 180 video equipment and filming, make your way to booth 5.B48c during IBC.
The Weavr Consortium, comprised of six UK companies spanning esports, education and entertainment and supported by UK Research and Innovation, recently revealed their powerful technology’s potential to excite and engage fans.
The Weavr consortium have publicly demonstrated their first working prototype mobile app. Weavr’s high-fidelity predictive data analytics gives esports fans accurate forecasts in real time, unique insights into player performance and integrates into the live viewing experience.
Just eight months on from founding in January 2019, the consortium have built a highly functional prototype of the first third-party analytics and viewing platform for esports that they were able to test with the 27,000 fans at ESL One Birmingham. Fans were blown away.
Weavr is a technology platform that uses live and historic data to create meaningful and personalised mixed-reality experiences for esports and sports fans, powers the creation of data-driven content, and opens up commercial opportunities for brands and teams. It lets fans move between physical and virtual viewing, see the stories they want and be immersed like never before.
James Dean , ESL UK CEO & Weavr CEO, said: “We’re so pleased with the fans’ reactions to Weavr so early in development. We set out to revolutionise the sport and esports viewing experience and we’re well on the way to that. We’re looking forward to working with everyone – fans, players, publishers and more – to keep the momentum up and keep changing viewing for the better”.
The consortium set out the next stages of development for Weavr, with new products and functionality slated to be ready to thrill fans by ESL One Hamburg at the end of October 2019.
Nigel Adams, Minister for Sport, Media and the Creative Industries, said: “Weavr were awarded £4 million through the Audience of the Future Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to help it create a new platform to transform the way fans remotely engage with live sports, so it is exciting to see its first working prototype launch. I’ve no doubt creative companies such as Weavr will, with its innovative product having far-reaching commercial value for the UK, be at the heart of the nation’s economy for many years to come.”
Andrew Chitty, from UK Research & Innovation and the Challenge Director for Audience of the Future, said: “The UK is home to some of the world’s leading digital and creative talent and new immersive technologies are fundamentally changing the way that creative companies can interact with their audiences. Esports is leading the way in creating new and richer audience experiences with significant commercial potential. It’s that combination of creativity and economic growth that is central to the Industrial Strategy and the Creative Industries Sector Deal.”
The team behind Weavr believe that despite rapidly advancing technology and performance data being more readily available than ever before, sports viewing had barely moved in decades. They have assembled a team of the best in the business in data, esports and production and decided to fix it, starting with esports.
About Audience of the Future
Audience of the Future is a £33m investment of public funding to grow the UK’s leading position in immersive experience production. It’s part of UK Government’s £4.2bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and delivered by UK Research & Innovation.
£4m of the £33m fund was awarded to Weavr, a consortium made up of ESL, University of York, Focal Point VR, dock10, REWIND and Cybula to demonstrate audience demand for a mixed reality esports viewing experience with personalised data across AR studio, second screen and VR apps.
Focal Point VR part of winning Audience of the Future Consortium
Focal Point VR is delighted to announce that it is a member of the WEAVR consortium which has won one of 4 large UK Research and Innovation funded Audience of the Future demonstrator competitions.
What is WEAVR?
WEAVR is a new non-linear social viewing platform designed for live events. WEAVR uses real time data to drive storytelling, weaving together disparate data sources with deep AI and using immersive technologies to create a multi-layered, hyper personalized, interactive viewing experience.
Audience of the Future
Imagine being inside the world of your favourite stage performance or watching your favourite athletes every move with enhanced stats for the entire match, or immersed with others, solving a detective narrative involving dinosaurs and robots in a national museum or shopping centre.
This will become a reality for UK audiences from 2019 as globally renowned IP, storytellers and technology companies come together to demonstrate cutting edge immersive experiences thanks to funding through the government’s industrial strategy.
The awards will be made across the areas of Sports Entertainment, Visitor Experience and Performance. The demonstrators will be tested at scale with 100,000 users to evidence the business models behind them.
WEAVR Consortium wins Sports Entertainment Demonstrator
Esports – video games that are played competitively and watched by massive audiences – has the fastest growing global audience for live sports. In 2017 over 388 million people worldwide watched esports, and the number of esports fans is projected to grow a further 50% by 2020.
Our consortium will produce a new platform called WEAVR that leverages the data-rich environment of esports to transform the way esports – and further down the line physical sports – are experienced through cross reality technologies by remote audiences.
The WEAVR consortium includes ESL UK, REWIND, Cybula, Dock 10 and the University of York as well as Focal Point VR. The team includes leading academics and innovators across immersive technologies, data-driven content production and broadcast. WEAVR will transform the experiences of millions of esports fans, generate new audiences and open up new revenue streams for the broadcast entertainment industry.
Being part of the winning WEAVR consortium represents a huge vote of confidence in the technology and strategic direction that Focal Point VR have pursued.
We will be looking for new investment and new partnerships as we take our 8K+ 360 live streaming technology and products deeper into esports and physical sports future broadcasting.
Focal Point VR will also be hiring additional engineers to augment the existing team as we take on the additional workload of the WEAVR integrations and demonstrations.
The official WEAVR Launch Press Release can be found here.
12th September 2018. Guildford, Surrey, UK.Focal Point VR will attend IBC to show its professional broadcast quality virtual reality (VR) 360° live-streaming platform capable of being deployed anywhere in the field.
Focal Point VR has developed an ultra high quality high resolution 360 and VR live stream platform capable of delivering VR video streams up to 8K. However until now high bandwidth 4K+ VR streams required a fixed line broadband connection to deliver. In partnership with Livewire Digital, Focal Point VR will demonstrate an end to end, go-anywhere solution pairing Focal Point VR’s Camera and Stream Processors with RazorLink® Smart Networking technology embodied in the Livewire Digital SilverBlade II.
Jonathan Newth, Focal Point VR’s CEO, said “The ability of VR Video to ‘teleport’ the media consumer to another place live represents an entirely new paradigm for video. We are really excited to be working with Livewire Digital to enable live VR video streams from virtually anywhere.”
Commenting on the partnership with Focal Point VR, Tristan Wood, Managing Director, Livewire Digital, said, “Immersive video is an exciting and growing market which requires the fast, reliable communications that RazorLink Smart Networking can deliver.”
Come and visit us on the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Pavilion in Hall 5, Stand B48c at the RAI – Amsterdam, Netherlands 14th September – 18th September 2018
If you can not attend IBC we will be live streaming from the stand to 360 social media during the show. Visit our show YouTube channel or our Facebook page during show hours and join us wherever you are.
Focal Point VR PR
T: +44 7771 558545
About Focal Point VR
Focal Point VR is a 360 and VR video production and technology company. We are dedicated to creating the technology necessary to realise the dream of people being able to put on a VR headset and be ‘teleported’ to another place, live. Focal Point VR has developed a range of 360 cameras and live stitch products based on its proprietary Ubiety ultra-high resolution software platform. We provide clients with hardware and software solutions to deliver professional broadcast quality VR video live streams; we also have a full service production team which can handle end-to-end VR video production, post or live.
Livewire Digital design Software Defined Networking (SDN) solutions that provide reliable, optimised communications links that operate over cellular, terrestrial and satellite services. Combining networking knowledge with expertise in broadcast video, electronics and mechanical engineering, Livewire Digital offer leading edge products and bespoke systems to a broad range of markets and organisations.
Focal Point VR are delighted to announce that we are now selling our own camera rigs and stream processors. We recognise there is a strong demand for very high quality 360 camera rigs which include live headset preview mode or live streaming. Over the last 2 years we’ve been increasingly assembling our own rigs and processors for the live streaming projects we’ve been commissioned to film. We’re now making the results of that development available to everyone.
The first 2 systems we’re putting on sale are aimed at the 6K resolution market. We’ve got a dedicated 3 camera rig – the FP-6K – and a matched live stream processor – the FP-A6 on sale. We’ll be publicly showing these systems at AR & VR World at Excel in London this week. During their debut month, both systems will have a 10% introductory discount. We’re also offering 2 day hire of the systems with the hire costs refundable against subsequent purchase.
Focal Point VR’s live production stream processors are based around our proprietary Ubiety software platform. Ubiety has been designed to meet the demands of the highest quality 360 and VR live streaming environments. Amongst other things this feature rich platform includes support for low latency ultra high resolution 360 streaming using NDI and exceptionally fine control over stitching using our StitchPaint technology.
We’ll continue to expand the range with new products in the pipeline aimed at 8K filming and streaming due to be announced shortly.
We recently published a piece on the Music:)ally website, distilling some of our thoughts around the application of live streamed 360 video to music events as a result of our experiences from the recent Royal Blood gig.
Samsung has collaborated with Royal Blood on an innovative and visually insane 360 4K live stream in London, taking over an abandoned concrete theatre underneath Islington Green.
The exclusive showcase was the first time the Brighton duo played songs from their new album, How Did We Get So Dark?
Not only did the band make dreams come true for around 400 competition winning fans – but they performed a first live stream in 360 4K as part of a facebook/youtube/periscope takeover, all from a specially created stage featuring LED floor, light projections and mirrored ceilings to give a sense of ‘infinity space’, in line with the new S8’s infinity screen. For the thousands watching online, they would experience the gig from the centre of the stage – as a third member of the band.
Samsung’s creative agency iris commissioned live music multi camera Director, Sam Wrench to creatively direct the show and execute the live stream elements through creative & production services company &SON STUDIO.
Wrench said; “Myself and the iris team wanted to create a modern structure that juxtaposed the rawness of this incredible hidden venue, we explored infinity mirrors and reflection used in art installations with a view to bringing some of that mystery into a live music setting whilst nodding to the infinity screen on the new phone and creating something that evolved and transformed; tricking and exciting the viewer through this immersive new medium’
Wrench worked alongside show design studio Bryte Design, a regular collaborator on gigs such as Vevo Presents – The Weeknd & Vevo Presents – Ariana Grande. Together they conceived a 10m diameter circular video floor wrapped in a custom 30m single projection gauze. Above the stage 4 separate mirrored rings moved on individual motors to distort the field of view and create a sense of infinity. Custom made content was projected from 13 projectors positioned around the venue and designed to trick the perspective of the audience and the camera inside. The giant structure weighed 10 tons and was loaded in using 6 x 26tonne trucks through a custom built lift in the abandoned shaft.
Surrey based Focal Point VR supplied the 360 and live streaming infrastructure utilising their innovative and exclusive software Ubiety to live stitch the 3 BlackMagic Studio Cameras in each of the two rigs. An additional 360 POV to be made available on the Samsung VR store was mounted to a moving track that captured a wide of the space and crowd. Jonathan Newth, CEO of Focal Point VR said, “It was great to capture a live 360 stream from a set that was specifically designed for VR; the vast dynamic range and completely immersive nature of
the lighting provided a real challenge to deliver at the highest quality but the results were superb. Seeing it live on YouTube, Facebook and Periscope simultaneously really brought to life the breadth and quality this medium can have on events”
Streaming in 360 4k was technically demanding, not least because the venue has no power, phone signal or internet, &SON STUDIO producer Simon Fisher said “Our biggest challenge was combining the tech with the infrastructure of the venue. We in theory re built 2 traditional Outside Broadcast trucks inside the venue with 5 rows of control housing the heads of each department each monitoring via headset – our internet came from a satellite rigged on a neighbours roof”