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30 TVBEurope

www.tvbeurope.com January 2015


Designing for the virtual world The blending of real and virtual objects is on the increase. Philip Stevens looks at the design considerations when it comes to Virtual and Augmented Reality

ixing live elements such as fixtures,

the talent. Augmented Reality elements can

furniture and props within a virtual

provide programme makers with the ability to get

environment has become commonplace

information on screen instantly and allow talent


in many broadcast situations. And as producers

to analyse data or footage and interact with it in

seek ways to cut costs, the use of Augmented

a visually exciting way.”

Reality (AR) – including the integration of elements

So explains Mike Afford, an award-winning

like live video feeds playing in a virtual truss or in

motion graphic designer, formerly with the BBC

display-like props situated throughout the studio –

at Television Centre in London. Now based in

seems bound to increase.

Ireland and running his own company, Afford is

Alongside AR is Virtual Reality (VR), and although somewhat different in application, there is commonality in the technology. First, let’s identify terminology. “I would define VR as any non-real elements

Fox Sports Australia is using Vizrt for live augmented 3D graphics to provide audiences with something they had never seen before

well placed to provide in depth insight about the virtual world. So what are the design considerations

‘The challenge is blending the real and virtual elements so they look transparent and natural for the home viewer’

when it comes to making the virtual into a believable reality? After all, the challenge

or graphics that are incorporated into the studio

is blending the real and virtual elements

environment so they give the impression of being

so they look transparent and natural for

“The biggest challenge is to decide from the

picked up by the real cameras, and seen by

the home viewer.

outset whether we’re trying to create a space that could conceivably exist in the reality. Is this supposed to look like an actual TV studio, or some other ‘real’ environment – or are we trying to create something that couldn’t possibly exist in the real world?” Afford goes on to say that he approaches the process as though he was designing a physical set. “Where are the cameras? What shots do we need? What kind of look and feel are we aiming for? Further down the line it becomes a question of fine detail and ‘polish’, and much more mundane matters, such as render settings and polygon count – where applicable.” With that in mind, does the choice of rendering platform play a role here? “The main consideration is whether the set is being rendered in real time from true 3D geometry,

Technology from Vizrt and Stype created the VR set for the Scottish Referendum results programme from the BBC

or if it is panning, tilting and zooming around pre-rendered images. But, in both cases, it’s advisable to only put fine detail where it will actually be seen.”

Profile for Future PLC

TVBEurope January 2015 digital edition  

Business, insight and intelligence for the broadcast media industry

TVBEurope January 2015 digital edition  

Business, insight and intelligence for the broadcast media industry