Photo: Rob Kruyt
James Hursthouse, CEO of Departure Lounge
Vancouver has developed a reputation as a city that can change anything, from Pyongyang in The Interview to Mumbai in the Mission: Impossible franchise.
Now, new technological advances for the metaverse have seen film studios calling on Vancouver to change anything imaginable.
“Vancouver’s makeup – it’s kind of a mix of North Hollywood with a strong blending cluster of reality that we have – we thought it was the perfect place,” said James Hursthouse, CEO of Departure Lounge Inc.
His British Columbia company recently partnered with Metastage Inc. based in Los Angeles, which will launch an installation at the Center for Digital Media along the Great Northern Way, specializing in volumetric capture technology at Microsoft Corp.
Facilities equipped for volumetric capture can deploy and up to 100 cameras to film people and objects from multiple angles at once before assembling the images into one. 3D rendering.
Additional film can be entered at one of these facilities where their body is scanned and a 3D image of it can be inserted into the background of a crowded crowd scene in a hockey arena instead of which will require hundreds of extras to fill the stands. Or scans of people and objects – known as digital twins – can be used for games, virtual reality or business applications such as training simulations.
Metaverse refers to an evolution of the Internet, where immersive digital worlds replace 2D screens for everyday interactions such as shopping or socializing with friends. Slip on a pair of VR glasses or hold a smartphone visible and users can chat with their real-time agent while watching a digital twin in a market house .
“Increasingly … we’re seeing human performances captured using the volumetric stage and then incorporated into television and film production in the post.[-production]said Hursthouse, whose company is expected to open facilities at Metastage Canada in the summer.
Microsoft Corp. with the effort, which allowed Metastage to become exclusively licensed for its volumetric capture technology in Western Canada.
Metastage has been deploying volumetric capture in just three years in Los Angeles, where Hollywood productions use the technology, and Hursthouse said the Vancouver joint venture has already received requests from companies wanting to use it. here.
The film industry contributed $ 3.3 billion to the BC economy in fiscal year 2020-21, up 13% from $ 2.9 billion last year, according to the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) Profile 2021 report released earlier this month. .
Much of BC’s production activity focuses on foreign service work for Hollywood feature films and television films, which have generated $ 2.7 billion. This represents 52% of all foreign service work done in Canada last year.
“There’s a lot of virtual production now in all studios,” said Mary Lim, head of education and program development at the Vancouver Film School (VFS).
The film school launched a degree program in VR/AR design and development in April 2019, and students are working on client projects that use virtual reality to help train approximately 200 medical students in University of British Columbia.
It also recently partnered with Tesla Inc. in a training simulation for auto repair workers covering everything from operating equipment to assembling parts.
Beyond Capture Studios, which specializes in the same type of motion capture technology that brings Lord of the Rings character Gollum to the big screen, is based on the VFS campus in Gastown, and Lim said the students have used the company’s facilities. as part of their learning.
“A former production design instructor from our film program approached me to see if he could audit some of the [classes] in the program because he wants to learn more, “he said.” There really is a need. “
On the other hand, Hursthouse said Vancouver’s mix of acting, animation and film skills will continue to attract corporate colleagues who may only find in-depth knowledge of one or two of these other sectors. cities.
“Everything comes together, and it’s the perfect storm for volumetric capture.”