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Hybrid Studios

There has been a lot of creativity in pandemic. One of the most dramatic examples is the rise of virtual production and hybrid studios. These studios and workflows grew out of an initial need to keep moving under extraordinary circumstances. However the investment that’s been made in them suggests that in many vertical markets a more permanent hybrid future will be the norm. Or at least that’s the business plan. Here’s a look at some of the facilities that have opened.

Monterey Conference Center CANVAS Studio

As we go to press, California’s Monterey Conference Center (MCC) and Montreal-based Immersive Design Studios are debuting the 10,000-square-foot CANVAS Studio. Able to accommodate 125 in-person attendees via theater-style seating and 30,000 virtual guests, the space was created to be an immersive, interactive, and engaging environment for both in-person and virtual attendees and speakers.

Located on the second floor of the MCC inside the Steinbeck Ballroom, the circular studio is equipped with 360-degree wraparound screens and Immersive’s CANVAS software platform. This software enables two-way interactivity that allows speakers to see thousands of remote attendees up on the screens simultaneously, as well as zoom in on any individual for spontaneous and personal interactions. From Immersive’s view, everyone benefits from the two-way interactivity and dynamic energy that simply can’t be replicated in a traditional livestream. Users can reach vastly larger audiences and new markets around the globe at a fraction of the resources it takes to organize a fully physical event.

The business model is based on a one-year trial period, an opportunity for Immersive to show off it’s capabilities and for the city of Monterey to learn more about the market for hybrid business events.

Worre Studios, Las Vegas

Immersive Design Studios also supported the opening of Worre Studios in Las Vegas, a 25,000 square foot state-of-the-art production stage, equipped with a 360-degree LED wall that is powered by CANVAS. The platform was also used to allow Tony Robbins to transform his signature Unleash The Power Within (UPW) events for 30,000 people from more than 100 countries amid the COVID era. It supported interactivity and realtime translation.

While the CANVAS studio at Monterey Conference Center took longer to realize than initially planned, the multi-million dollar Worre interactive studio was reportedly built in just two months. It’s a stage-in-the-round footprint, surrounded by a 360-degree 1.9mm 4K LED interactive screen system and supports up to 250,000 attendees in real-time. Half of the LED walls are on a track system so producers can easily expand the wall to allow room for adding a live audience component to the virtual event. The space utilizes state-of-the-art camera and audio equipment, including a jib camera, as well as the Evertz broadcasting system, and can customize features based on the event.

Hosts can also visually expand the virtual audience field to talk to attendees directly, see and hear their reactions, and have constant interaction, one of the primary goals of the platform which was designed to make livestreaming bi-directional. The translation platform can translate both to attendees and back to the host in multiple languages.

“What we thought would be a temporary answer during the pandemic, ended up being the perfect solution to reshape what’s possible for live and virtual events, making them even better than imagined. We are now ready to share the studio with the world,” said founder and CEO Marina Worre.

Located in the Southwest part of Las Vegas and easily accessible to public and private airports, Worre Studios can host educational events, trade shows, concerts, product launches, and more.

“We have had some music industry executives looking at making the in-studio hybrid portion a super VIP ticket,” shares Worre, “so if you think of it like a concert, the general admission tickets are joining virtually, and the VIPs pay a premium to be in person.”

PRG Virtual Production Studio, Los Angeles

This virtual production studio recently made the decision to level up their audio capabilities by incorporating the new L-Acoustics L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound technology at its xR Stage. This technology pairs with PRG’s extended reality setup to offer an array of tools for multi-sensory immersive experiences. The Los Angeles studio, which includes an immersive loudspeaker configuration and processing hardware, can now support sound creators to design immersive audio with a 3D control interface and audio processing. Creators can use L-ISA Studio software from any computer, listen to and prepare their content in binaural sound using headphones, and then bring their creation to the PRG Los Angeles Virtual Production Studio where it will seamlessly translate to L-ISA hardware. Using L-ISA technology, creators can enhance the audio experience by simultaneously streaming binaural, 5.1, and 7.1 listening formats with the push of a button; no additional mixing required.

xR Stage is a next-generation tool where teams can create and deliver content for virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and cinematic reality (CR). Users can generate new environments by bringing digital objects into the physical world and vice versa. Combining this next-generation process with the audio capabilities of L-ISA technology advances content production to new levels of immersion.

On June 10 at Hawthorne Hangar in Los Angeles, PRG and L-Acoustics worked with aerospace company Archer to deploy binaural sound for the company’s reveal of its cutting-edge, all-electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, Maker.

“In this deployment, the in-person audience and those at home wearing headphones both experienced live xR and binaural sound in unison, which is a real multi-sensory trip. It gave viewers the same feeling as a theme park ride,” explains Hallaert. “We were able to do that because, beyond the advanced gear, we also provided technicians that have the expertise in content, lighting, and tech to make these tools work seamlessly together.”

McCormick Place, Chicago

Chicago’s McCormick Place is the largest convention center in North America. Its 4,249-seat Arie Crown Theatre sat unused due to the pandemic. So McCormick formed a “pandemic partnership” with Freeman in the summer of 2020 to repurpose the space and create the Arie Crown Theater (ACT) Hybrid Production Studio for digital and hybrid meetings and events.

The new studio comes equipped with a 400-square-foot 4K LED video wall, set design, and the ability to capture content using virtual environments and augmented reality while connecting with audiences worldwide via live streaming. A team of experienced professionals from McCormick and Freeman is also available to help support event organizers in the production process. The venue can support pre-recorded and live content, non-live and hybrid events, and can integrate speakers from across the country and across time zones with the ability to combine pre-recording and live.

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