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Wednesday 18 December 2019

Solent’s flagship Studio D has received a makeover during the last couple of days with the installation of camera tracking and virtualised studios by Mo-Sys.

Over 300 reflective ‘stars’ have been added to the studio ceiling to allow StarTracker modules on the cameras to know exactly where they are during pan, tilts and other manoeuvres such as tracking. Blue LEDs are shone towards the ceiling and the reflections are processed to provide position data to a thousandth of a degree.

Virtual sets can then be created and augmented with shots from the cameras or video servers in real time. Users can add static objects or dynamic video walls that render according to positional feedback as well as tracking of the zoom and focus of the cameras themselves. The graphics is based on Unreal Engine, which may be familiar to games developers and is something Media Technology students use for designing sound for computer games.

The studio uses their Ultimatte green screen keyers to replace the studio walls with virtual content, as well as further masks that are generated by the Mo-Sys software to remove unwanted truss-work or studio furniture. There are two fully mobile cameras and a third wide-shot with keying but without tracking.

Today’s installation marks the end of a few recent upgrades to Studio D to prepare for the arrival of the virtual studio. The University has recently invested in additional keyers and replaced the existing green screen with a high quality infinity screen and improved lighting. The system makes the studio seem much larger and makes a wider range of shots possible within the space.

Journalism students are likely to be some of the first to benefit from the upgrade and will use the virtual sets for news and similar programming. We also look forward to getting Media Technology students in there to play with the workflow and generating Unreal Engine configurations. The space will also be of interest to Computer Games Development students who will be able to develop their own sets and see them come to life as Augmented Reality within the studio environment.

The system is a significant investment that puts Solent at the cutting edge of studio production. We look forward to using the system and learning how to get the most from it. Many thanks to Mo-Sys for their support so far.

Clockwise: Reflective stars on the studio ceiling, the Mo-Sys engine, the StarTracker hardware, the tracker light source and sensor