At the beginning of 2020, it was difficult to conceptualize what the future of the event industry was going to look like. Due to strict health and social distancing regulations uncertainty was the only thing filling the empty convention halls and event spaces. Yet, it’s this kind of uncertainty that allows ideas and innovation to take the forefront and create something new and captivating. If this year has proven anything, it’s the fact that the survival of our companies, schools, and social lives have leaned greatly on technology and creative tech solutions. Content in 2020 has come to rely on Virtual Production. Zoom video conferencing has boasted 200 million daily users in march 2020 consisting of remote work conference calls, virtual school days, and long-distance family get-togethers. This August the collective sales for meal delivery services increased 158% over the span of a year, much like the overall usage of contactless payment that according to Forbes increased 150% from March 2019. In terms of technological advancements, the future of our reality is evidently Virtual.
The adoption of all of these varying technology solutions has allowed many industries to be resilient in the face of adversity, and the convention and event industry is no different. At the beginning of the year, Las Vegas hosted CES 2020. This convention showcases new products and services created by leading consumer tech companies such as Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung. Yet, throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center, there was one overarching theme that seemed to take over almost every booth—Virtual and Augmented Reality. This was not the first time that consumers have had access to VR products, actually, prior to this year’s show, many expressed Virtual Reality to be slowly and surely dying out. And, yet, There was an extensive outpour of new and updated VR/AR displays that proved Virtual Reality to be the undoubted wave of the future.
Sony celebrated that its PS4 VR headset sold 5 million units and Facebook’s own Virtual Reality Headset, the Oculus Quest, was completely sold out and in high demand. Even Companies like Audi demonstrated that the possibilities of integrating Augmented Reality into Automobile design and function proved to be a unique asset. From alert driving notifications showing you points of interest, and car charging stations to car windows that could alter their displays to change the atmosphere inside the car, it is evident that Mixed reality is thriving even in the most unexpected places.
Virtual Production of Mandalorian
Augmented and Virtual reality has clearly begun to seep into the consumer’s daily life. The growth of this newfound tech has pushed the boundaries of its use far outside its origin and has sparked an entirely new experience in Extended Reality (XR). This refers to creating environments in which the real and the virtual collide unifying humans and machines. Such was the technology used to generate one of the most revolutionary productions to date Disney and Star Wars’ Mandalorian. The unique thing about this production is that, unlike anything done before, the set was completely virtually fabricated using a 21 ft domed video wall in unison with unreal engine video game design technology. While it is the first virtual production of its kind it is increasingly clear that future content production teams will transition into this simply because of the massive amounts of benefits. Created by ILM ( Industrial Light and Magic) and Epic games, this video wall generated a variety of pre-designed sets such as desert rock formations, frozen tundras, and even the interior of a space-ship dock. This lets the storyline be directed and produced without inhibitions created by time, whether it is shooting a sunset scene for ten hours or, switching between completely different sets on the same day. Not to mention cutting the cost of shooting and traveling on location. It also gave the actors a fully immersive experience in which they could fulfill their roles and actually step into these fantastical fabricated worlds. By giving the actors the context of their environment they are able to turn out better content. The true genius of the Unreal Engine is definitely responsible for the crisp resolutions that were filmed in real-time on camera. Leaving a very different post-production shot, since most productions utilize CGI (computer-generated imaging) post-filming. Additionally, The video wall was used as set lighting due to the fact that these sets were rendered real-time, generating a cohesive final take. The immense benefits of this kind of Extended reality set will pave the way for the future of content production, and moreover the future of the event industry.
Virtual Production in the Event and Entertainment Industry
Virtual Production has already started popping up all over the place, and technology continues advancing further blurring the lines between the real and the digital. With these advancements in technology, human creativity gains the ability to create immersive and interactive digital experiences. As communication becomes increasingly virtual these kinds of experiences become key to the way we interact. In an entertainment heavy event industry, it was only a matter of time before the transition and implementation of Extended Reality. Currently, Mixed reality has amplified the human experience through a variety of mediums.
Concerts are no exception to this. In a tech-heavy world, concerts have not just become about the artist’s performance, but the story their songs tell through their sets and lighting. Even more importantly, how that experience transfers to social platforms like Instagram. Because of this the use of immersive visuals, avatars and 3-D renders has become increasingly popular with festivals and concert venues. Festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival and various artists have created entire tours and sets using Extended Reality.
Destinations and Art Installations have probably benefited the most from digital design and technology. There are experiences from all over the world such as The Festival of Lights (Fete des Lumières) in France and the Sagrada Familia in Spain where the lightmapping is used to create spectacular light shows on the facades of ancient cathedrals and buildings showcasing these architectural marvels in a new more modern light. The Festival of Lights alone has attracted 1.8 million visitors to Lyon, France over the course of 4 nights. During which guests walk around the city to view a collection of art installations which in more recent years have become completely virtual experiences including light drones, projected light shows, and neon light installments.
Perhaps one of the most crucial components of these Virtual Experiences is the ability to use them as Promotional Marketing. Las Vegas for example has opted out of neon signs and switched things up with Digital Screen billboards. Just outside the Forum shops next to Caesar’s Palace two digital Roman columns, orders and all, hold one of these Digital Billboards. Together both the screens and the columns change in color depth and texture as promotions for their high-end boutiques and extravagant restaurants transition from one to the next. The reality is digital Billboards are just the beginning. Flagship stores often times show off digital attractions such as the Flagship American Eagle also found on the Vegas Strip. The top Half of the Storefront is composed of LED panels. The playful display showcases videos and animations matching their current clothing campaigns and attracting tourists and locals alike.
While entertainment and art are closely intertwined with any virtual production, the importance of following distancing guidelines can override the experience altogether. Nevertheless, there is a solution—Virtual Tours and Events. While oftentimes guests are unable or advised not to attend conferences, meetings, conventions, and events the solution is in a digital tour or event. Digitizing the event space is a fairly new idea and camera tech has evolved enough to accurately capture and display an interactive walkthrough or Event. This way guests can have full access to the entirety of the convention or showroom floor from the comfort of their laptop, tablet, or mobile device. Anything can be digitized, From Conventions, such as CES 2021, Concerts, and all kinds of meetings and event spaces.
Vegas Extended Reality
LV Photo has always stayed ahead of the game in regards to producing the latest in innovative experience. Due to the pathway that the event industry is currently undergoing we believe that focusing on Virtual Production is the best way to keep creating and generating top-tier, unforgettable experiences for guests and clients alike. Extended reality is beginning to rise in popularity and use throughout a variety of industries, and LVPhoto will follow suit. We are working alongside Vegas Extended Reality a Studio based in Las Vegas, set up for creating Virtual Extended Reality content. With our very own LED wall we can construct and or recreate any and all kinds of sets. These virtual environments can be used for any and all types of high-quality content creation. Our team is on location to help you film, create, render, and refine your virtual vision. From Virtual Events, to Live Streaming presentations, meetings, live music, cinema, or any kind of content production we offer the best and latest in Extended Reality Technology. As we continue advancing and changing our technological communications and interactions it’s important to recognize that the experiences we offer must evolve just the same.