Pixotope, a mixed reality solution for live media production, has delivered on-screen graphics and images for China Central Television and for Spanish regional news and entertainment broadcaster VideoReport Canarias.
Since early 2020, China Central Television has been rapidly expanding its virtual production capabilities for its program delivery, with Pixotope becoming the station’s primary virtual production solution for a range of AR projects.
Pixotope installed a giant, 1000 square meter LED wall for China’s Consumer Rights Day Gala, broadcast live in March. Great Wheel, a production company working within CCTV, designed and implemented the live graphics using Pixtope’s engine.
Traditionally, CCTV opted to build real-world sets for its Consumer Day television broadcast, but the studio found it could significantly improve both the quality and flexibility of its productions after choosing to install an LED wall. The variation of content and mood in the Consumer Rights Day’s show means physical sets restrict the TV station’s options when conducting a live broadcast.
But with Pixtope driving live graphics on an LED wall, the range of diverse content could be catered for effectively, and in real-time, with appropriate imagery and graphics. David Stroud, Chief Product Officer for Pixotope said, “We’re continually developing Pixotope’s features, but seeing the technology used to such great effect on live TV at this stage is incredible.
“Great Wheel is one of our earliest customers, using Pixotope for a range of high profile TV and Live event projects since 2019. Great Wheel’s projects have helped us improve the technology by providing real-world case studies and outstanding feedback — all of which are opportunities for us to analyze and develop — we can’t wait to see what Great Wheel and CCTV produce next with Pixotope.”
Technology Behind the Show in China and for “Una Hora Menos”
CCTV studio’s curved LED wall is 50 meters long and 10 meters high, covering the entire floor with a half-circle with a diameter of 30 meters. To power the live broadcast graphics and achieve a large-scale set extension for the CCTV broadcast, CCTV used as many as four Pixotope engines at one time. Throughout the broadcast the presenters were surrounded by the LED screens, which displayed logos, CG graphics, and animation.
In one shot, a continuous stream of data spirals around the stage, merging with on-screen AR graphics being manipulated by the presenter. In another, the presenter is surrounded by CG shadows of hidden people, before revealing a participant on the stage. This was the first time CCTV had implemented true XR for a live show, but its success is a positive first step towards even bigger projects in the future.
In Spain, Pixotope enabled VideoReport Canarias to expand its virtual production offering in six months. This is the first time a Spanish local TV channel has adopted real-time augmented reality content techniques.
VideoReport Canarias is the broadcasting services provider of a number of well-known media broadcasters in Spain, including RadioTelevision Canaria. VideoReport Canarias partnered with Pixotope to find a more resource-friendly and visually stimulating way of producing live TV.
Working through Pixotope’s distributor in Spain, Tangram, and VideoReport Canarias’ supplier and system integrator, Bienvenido Gil (BGL), an entirely new show format was created for RadioTelevision Canaria’s daily primetime weather show, Una Hora Menos.
“Innovation has always been at the core of VideoReport Canarias. This is why we were excited to introduce virtual reality in our sets, specifically in our prime time show. What motivated us to use Pixotope was that we thought it was a great solution, affordable and pretty quick to turnaround in time,” said Anuska Simón Gómez, General Manager at VideoReport Canarias.
Moving away from traditional talk-show production sets with expensive LED screen displays and changing stage fixtures and furniture, Una Hora Menos went from a small costly production set that had limited stage resources and a single camera operation to a versatile and multi-camera operation studio that can produce a limitless number of stage scenarios to assist in the shows’ news reporting and creative storytelling.
“Pixotope allows us to save money and time by providing an incredibly versatile set in just a few square meters, where there’s no limit for creativity. This is a great advantage for the viewers. The format of the show has improved significantly. We design imaginary situations where the audience is involved, making the experience more engaging and fun. Our show’s ratings are proof that viewers enjoy the content we produce,” said Gómez.
Despite geographic distance, Pixotope was able to provide remote and on-location support throughout every step of the implementation process as virtual production began to ramp up.
Philippe Vignal, Director of Business Development, EMEA at Pixotope, says: “Virtual production is not a science, it is a craft and every studio, broadcaster or event is unique. In developing our relationships with Tangram, VideoReport Canarias and BGL, we were helping them grow their level of knowledge while also being that first line of support.
“It was really exciting to see VideoReport Canarias excel at developing new and more creative virtual sets, with us providing additional knowledge through Tangram and BGL when required.”