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Augmented reality for War Child

Jij&Ik, the live broadcast for War Child on 29 June 2016, was organized in the light of the special bond between children and their parents. By using augmented reality, the atmosphere of the performances could also be experienced at home.

 Production house Icare engaged United for the regular broadcast facilities for the television night Jij&Ik, in combination with augmented reality (AR). These graphics are layered over the shot and move together with the camera.

Augmented reality for War Child

Augmented Reality

In fact, augmented reality is nothing more than a layer of graphics that are added to real images. By using a tracking system, the graphics move synchronously with the camera-shot as if they are physically present. “You can see augmented reality as an extension of the actual set; it provides depth and interpretation of a shot”, says Bryan Boor, Graphics Operator at United.

During Jij&ik, eleven performances took place, namely: Marco Borsato and his daughter Jada, Esmée Denters, Matt Simons and eight children who each sang a song with their father or mother. Each performance has its own atmosphere and look. For instance, a song about security was performed underneath a tree. For this Bryan created an augmented layer of leaves. “Even with the crane shot you create the idea that you are in the woods. That has a much cozier effect than when you can see a tree on the set in the far distance and a few trees on the background screen.”

AR Camera locations

“We had already performed a few tests with this technique and Icare wanted to use it for their television night for War Child to acquire donors”, adds Gerard de Vries. As senior software engineer at United Live Graphics, he was the project leader of the augmented reality part for the registration of Jij&Ik.

“We determined the location of the cameras that were equipped with augmented reality. We decided to place a Sam Dolly on the left of the stage.” Apart from that, Gerard wanted to have a good overview-shot, and proposed to place a Super Techno 20 in the middle of the balcony. “During the construction in the theatre I sometimes wondered whether we made the right decision; it is namely a rather big and heavy construction. But in the end, everything went just as planned.”

Augmented Live show
The special thing was that it concerned a live show, while the live application of augmented reality at that time was not common knowledge yet. “Rather exiting”, Gerard agrees. “To give everything and everyone a chance to get settled, Icare decided to record the opening of the show. But the rehearsals went so well that the director decided to just do the opening live as well. Icare thought that was fine; a great compliment and a sign of trust.”

“It went really well, better than expected” tells Bryan. “Because we had prepared everything very well beforehand, we were able to adjust all kinds of things on the spot. For example, the director wanted the 3D screens to be positioned slightly different and we could arrange that out in no time.”

Flexile in adjustment
Such an adjustment might sound simple, but in augmented reality the replacement of things is less obvious than it appears to be. Bryan: “Although everything is built in 3D, you always work with a 2D monitor. That makes it difficult to see depth. After a shoot the image in a 3D area might not be completely right anymore.”

However, since it all went so well, there was even room to make extra graphics on the spot. For example, for the performance of Esmée Denters, what would have been the only song without added graphics. Bryan: “Her performance was broadcasted with an augmented sky full of stars.”

Involved Graphics department
Gerard also looks back on this job positively. “Anyone involved, was very satisfied with it. It looked incredible and we keep a close eye on the developments of new software and equipment that offer new possibilities. With all knowledge that we acquire, we keep raising the bar higher for our productions, in terms of efficiency and quality. I definitely see a future for augmented reality, this technique is great to use for daily or weekly shows, entertainment and sports programs.”

He indicated that it is best when United is involved from an early stage, as was the case with Jij&Ik. “Each project is a creative process, therefore it is not unusual that you come across certain things later on that were not anticipated, like technical limitations. The sooner we are involved in a project, the sooner we can think along about the possibilities. In this case the preparation was a cooperation with United Graphics. Together with them and the client we did come up with a concept, the guys of United Graphics arranged to graphical development and made most of the 2D and 3D objects that we used during the show.

For more information please contact Gerard de Vries via gerard.devries@united4all.nl or call 035 – 77 33 100.

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