The Future Group is a new company based out of Oslo Norway that is bringing real-time mixed reality video recording and broadcasting capabilities to the television industry. The company’s Frontier Interactive Mixed Reality technology will make 3D rendered game shows and sports events a reality.
Merging recorded live action video with rendered 3D environments and objects in film isn’t a new concept. Television and movie production companies have been doing this in one form or another for decades. For example, you could even argue that Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a renown film from the late '80s, employed a form mixed reality by blending animated characters with live-action film.
The idea of merging real video with digital environments in real-time wasn’t possible until recently, although there have been several examples of technologies that blur the lines between digital and live video creation in recent months. In March, Epic Games invited Ninja Theory to the stage at GDC to demonstrate the Unreal Engine Sequencer, which captures live facial expressions from a real actor and translates them to an animated character in real-time. Then in April, mixed reality VR trailers for Job Simulator, Fantastic Contraption, and an advertisement from Valve came out of nowhere and kicked off a mixed reality VR craze. Mixed reality streaming is a close analog to what The Future Group is trying to accomplish with Frontier, but with a level of polish worthy of live television.
Frontier is a backdrop renderer built on an “enhanced version” of Epic's Unreal Engine, which takes advantage of some of the most advanced computer-generated graphics technologies available. Unreal Engine can render photorealistic scenery thanks to its advanced particle systems and use of dynamic textures, live reflections, shadows, and collision detection. The Frontier platform provides the tools needed to blend the digital scenery with live film seamlessly.
Frontier Features: • Real-time graphics pipeline built on Unreal Engine which provides:• HDR workflows• FBX 3D file format support• Support for animated 3D models• Dynamic textures• Real-time shadows and reflection• Support for particle systems and collision detection• Seamless integration with remote studio cameras and virtual cameras• Photorealistic and immersive virtual environments with 4:4:4 internal processing• Based on new XPression M6 hardware platform and full integration with UX v3.0• Support for most tracking systems and protocols through UX
We don’t yet know the details about any of the shows that are taking advantage of Frontier’s Interactive Mixed Reality technology, but it won’t be long before we do. The Future Group said that multiple productions are in the works that will hit the airwaves in the coming year. The company said there are “several” live mixed reality game shows coming, and we can expect to see “worldwide sporting events and scientific visualization projects,” which The Future Group will announce in 2017.
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Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.