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Microsoft Mixed Reality Capture Studios create holograms to educate and entertain

“We move the camera for you, versus you are the camera,” Waskey says. “It’s a very similar process to creating a video, but in the end, you’re getting a hologram.”

The process brings in several cross-company initiatives and strengths. Most recently, they’ve added Azure to the mix to boost the work.

“One of the pieces of tech that really proves to be important is the way we compress and package the results,” says Steve Sullivan, general manager of the Mixed Reality Capture Studio. “Some other providers struggle with heavy files that are hard to get to consumers. But we can crunch it down to about the size of a video stream from Netflix. So basically, anywhere you can stream Netflix, you can stream our holograms. And that puts us onto phones, web, HoloLens and – you name it. We’ve built players for every major device and platform, so if you’re a creator or performer wanting to reach an audience, we can get you there.”

Azure is a new element, Sullivan says, that gives the company and its partners the advantage of better scale and broader reach. It allows them to process much more data, as they’re able to rely on the cloud to process more content, more flexibly, than an on-site render farm. This also allows them to provide services to other capture providers who may already have their own infrastructure.

“Even those who capture with different technology can process their data in our Azure pipeline to leverage our compression and playback ecosystem, giving all creators more options,” Sullivan says.

And now, they’re taking this technology on the road with two mobile stages, for more informal sessions. New as of this year, these packaged configurations are easier to deploy and able to take advantage of the cloud, versus huge on-premise computing. The mobile capture studios can have fewer cameras (64 instead of 106), are lighter in weight and built for portability.

“This gives us the opportunity to go where the action is,” says Waskey, pointing to events like the British Open, in which Dimension demonstrated golfers’ swings.

“When we look at sports as a particular scenario, we’ve generally seen it at a very flat angle. Golf is truly three-dimensional, there’s an arc and plane that gets described, there’s a full range of motion to hit the ball. Every golfer is subtly different in how they approach that task. One of our partners, Dimension, used a mobile stage and the power of Azure to process very fast huge amounts of data to show golfers’ angles that are normally ‘too dangerous to film.’”

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