disguise, central technology hub for 2020 MTV VMAs
The first major awards show in the US to be broadcast since the pandemic was held Sunday, August 30, when the socially distant MTV Video Music Awards were telecast from New York City. XR Studios selected the disguise xR workflow, powered by the latest disguise gx 2c media server, as the show’s central technology hub.
“The project was successful on a level of scale in terms of the size of the stage, the number of Stype-tracked cameras and the ambitious number of live performances and awards presentations,” says JT Rooney of Silent Partners Studio, who worked together with XR Studios to deliver the complex show in Extended Reality.
XR Studios, who pioneered the application of xR in live entertainment, was brought in by Paul Caslin, Creative Director for the VMAs, to help create a virtual stage where the awards presentation would take place. Additionally, XR Studios produced and enabled creative teams to craft performances for multiple artists like Lady Gaga, The Black Eyed Peas, Doja Cat and Da Baby in Extended Reality environments. Notch VFX played a key role in the production as the main real-time rendering engine for the awards stage and performances from Miley Cyrus, The Black Eyed Peas and Doja Cat. Meanwhile, Unreal Engine provided real-time rendering for Lady Gaga and Da Baby, utilising disguise’s newly launched RenderStream video-over-IP protocol.
“disguise’s xR workflow allows for a traditional workflow of media server and content creation while adding on the layers of Augmented and Mixed Reality. This allows for flexibility and dependability for live entertainment,” Scott Millar, Technical Director at XR Studios explains. “disguise’s camera calibration workflow also enables virtual set extension and the ability to blend LED with virtual environments to create whole new worlds.”
The disguise gx 2c powered real-time generated graphics from Notch onto the LED video screens as well as the virtual set extension content outside the LEDs, creating an immersive virtual world on camera that fans could view from their screens at home.
“This was the largest and most complex xR show that we have had to support so far,” says Jamie Sunter, disguise Senior Support Specialist who was involved in the project. “We had Support and Development teams working in LA and UK to ensure that we could get the most coverage with both timezones. We utilised the newly built xR stage in London HQ to then be able to verify fixes and reproduce issues that were being seen on site. In LA we had frequent presence on site as well as at the homes of the support team based in LA.”
For the VMA show disguise software was key not only to the camera calibration, but also to colour balancing and overall compositing of real-time content tools. This project marks yet another successful collaboration between XR Studios, Silent Partners and disguise, after having delivered ground-breaking virtual productions for performances from Katy Perry and The Black Eyed Peas earlier this year.