Virtual Set – Phoenix Production Studio

Rodney Byers / 9.11.2019

At SNEAKY BIG, we have the latest in virtual and augmented reality. The award-winning Brainstorm InfinitySet paired up with the Stype RedSpy optical camera tracking system is a very robust combination.

The constellation of reflectors used to track the virtual set.

The IR camera is pointed towards the ceiling markers.

Stype RedSpy uses markers (reflectors) that are installed on the stage’s ceiling in a constellation (random) pattern preventing any identical areas of reference on the ceiling grid. At SNEAKY BIG, both studios have markers installed and, due to the difference in each stage’s ceiling height, different sized markers were used and different spacing was required. For example, in the larger studio, Stage 1, the ceiling height is 24 feet so the larger markers were spaced farther apart than in Stage 2. The ceiling height in Stage 2 is only 9 feet so the much smaller markers were more densely placed.  The infrared (IR) camera is closer to the ceiling in the smaller studio, which affects the field of view – the more the markers can be seen by the infrared camera, the more accurate the studio camera will be in the virtual and augmented reality sets.

Infra-red camera used to track the markers on the ceiling.

The custom-made IR camera combined with gyro and acceleration sensors determines its position in space by recognizing specific markers as it moves through the studio. The gyroscope is used to continue accurate tracking if the RedSpy is moved outside the mapping of the markers.

The IR camera has infra-red LED’s (light-emitting diodes) around its circumference, which emit invisible light towards the ceiling markers and reflect back to the IR camera.  

 A point of origin (starting point)  is determined from all the markers in each stage. The RedSpy system maps the constellations of each stage using this point of origin and stores this mapping in two separate profiles.

When RedSpy is on it isn’t tracking, so the mapping displays the markers in red.

This data is used to calculate its own position in space within the studio, similar to satellite navigation, but instead of satellites, RedSpy uses markers.

When RedSpy is powered on, it is not tracking so the mapping displays the markers in red.

When the system is tracking, the markers are shown in blue.

When RedSpy is tracking, the markers are shown in blue.

Position of the tracking is determined by x, y and z coordinates to the origin point within the studio. It provides studio camera tilt, pan and roll values as well as the lens file data, position values of the studio camera lens zoom and focus.

The IR camera is pointed towards the ceiling markers and calibrated to the camera and lens CCD. Stype uses a local network to send camera tracking data packets to the Brainstorm render engines. Each of these data packets has information of the exact position of the camera in each frame, zoom, focus, field of view and lens distortion value. Stype RedSpy works with any camera mounted on a pedestal, JIB and handheld. It can be tracking 20 seconds upon power-on and requires no recalibration.

Computer view of the Alliance of American Football 2019 set shot on Stage 1.

Brainstorm’s award-winning InfinitySet runs on one controller and four engines.

There is one engine per studio camera which allows various angles within the virtual reality set while switching between cameras.

Each of the Stype RedSpy’s on the studio cameras are configured via IP to deliver specific tracking data to a specific Brainstorm engine’s InfinitySet.

Adjustments and fine-tuning of each camera’s virtual angle can be achieved on the engines InfinitySet’s that is associated with a particular camera. If there are any setting adjustments required on any angles, some of those settings and adjustments can be made on the controller such as loading video into virtual monitors.

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