Silver Spoon and lulu develop a real-time animation and virtual production for “Alter Ego” TV singing competition
The Alter Ego contest, the Fox’s first-ever Augmented Reality virtual singing competition, has been created by a partnership between Silver Spoon and lulu companies. The two studios worked closely, developing a unique workflow to create this unprecedented broadcast AR experience.
Alter Ego is a format hosted by Rocsi Diaz currently airing on Fox. Instead of the performers appearing physically, a combination of capture technology and AR tools allows the performers to drive the movement of their digital avatars on stage, in real-time.
Silver Spoon and lulu are two companies that focus on real-time animation and virtual production, and together they designed a workflow that sets a benchmark for live production. Silver Spoon crafted the look of these digital stars, translating initial sketches into functional and real-time ready 3D avatars, each with a wardrobe of unique costumes, while lulu also handled the real-time AR compositing, virtual lighting and triggering character FX and transitions on stage.
Part of the process included developing innovative special effects such as the ability to cry, blush, and sweat in real-time. Silver Spoon set up a motion capture volume on set, matching the size of the physical stage on which the AR avatars would appear. Each performer’s body and face were captured in precise detail and translated, in real-time via lulu’s AR compositing tools, to their digital alter ego performing on stage. From start to finish, the production pushed an accelerated timeline, building 22 avatars and recording over 65 avatar performances in a weeks, rather than months.
“The technology and creative process behind Alter Ego are unique and ground-breaking. From the performance capture and Unreal integration to live compositing and real-time controls, every step builds upon the last. The success of this novel real-time pipeline is a testament to the capabilities of everyone involved. As a result, we expect the concept of virtual avatars and performances to continue growing as an established form of live entertainment,” affirms Laura Herzing, Executive Producer at Silver Spoon.
On the other hand, Dirk Sanders, Director for lulu, said that “lulu was thrilled to work with Fox Alternative Television, Silver Spoon and the entire creative team on Alter Ego to create a new angle on the reality competition genre. The compressed production cycle required new thinking in order to achieve the five+ performances per episode across the mocap and composing workflows. We’re excited to keep pushing the envelope on what’s possible in live broadcast performances powered by technology.”