On November 10th 2020, China's deep-sea manned submersible, Fendouzhe (Striver) set a new diving record as it braved its way 10,000 meters underwater and continued to head toward the darkest depths of the Pacific Ocean - the bottom of the Mariana Trench, at a depth of 10,909 meters.
In order to truly capture the magnitude of this global achievement, CCTV News and China Media Group have set up a ‘deep sea’ broadcast studio on set with the help of the disguise xR workflow, to immerse at-home audiences in a virtual deep ocean exploration.
Using disguise xR, the production team at China Media Group were able to re-create a virtual panoramic view of the deep blue at 10,909 meters below sea level and offer a more comprehensive commentary of the deep dive to viewers.
The team used xR technology to deliver a real-time virtual set extension beyond the physical limitations of the studio’s LED space, enveloping presenters into a 360° underwater world. They then applied real-time camera tracking to align the real and virtual environments in-camera, allowing viewers to see a seamless 3D virtual world on screen.
A disguise vx4 media server was used to power generative content from Unreal Engine onto the LED screens, while two disguise rx machines enabled uncompressed real-time rendering. The team was able to recreate rich scenes of the deep blue with various species found in the dive. They also used Unreal to design supporting content for the scientific commentary exploring the possibilities of building habitable underwater cities.
To further immerse presenters into the live stream, the team applied an augmented reality (AR) workflow to overlay computer-generated (CG) graphics like whales and various fish swimming in the ocean, as well as the giant submersible and other diving instruments used in the exploration, allowing presenters to see and interact with these more naturally. They were able to create realistic lighting on the surface of these graphics and blend them naturally into the virtual scene.
By using the BlackTrax real-time motion tracking system, producers had complete visibility over the positions of the presenters and CG content in real-time, enabling better interaction and integration between the two and elevating the delivery of visual effects to a new dimension.
The xR workflow combined with the disguise 3D pre-visualisation system, enabled the team to enjoy complete control over the production and faster calibration in a real environment, to allow the project to be completed more efficiently.
Due to the high-profile scientific nature of the programme, CCTV were extremely strict with the project and imposed very high standards on its live broadcast, xR technical director Yang Jian explained.
“We have made a lot of effort in colour calibration, image jittering, trailing, latency and other various aspects to enable us to achieve the perfect effect. This was the first time xR technology has reached the standard of the CCTV broadcast and presented a great opportunity to showcase xR to the wider Chinese public.”
Yang Jian, xR technical director