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How The Mill Cyclops is Changing the Game for Filmmaking and Augmented Reality



Virtual production tool lets filmmakers generate and place photo-real CGI objects into shots on set, in real time

How The Mill Cyclops is Changing the Game for Filmmaking and Augmented Reality

For years, computer-generated imagery (CGI) has been making appearances in film, TV, advertising and more. From today, a virtual production tool developed by The Mill lets filmmakers generate and place photo-real CGI objects into shots on set, in real time. The Mill demonstrated this technology at this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, with the launch of an interactive film called The Human Race, during Epic Games’ live annual Keynote Presentation.

This new workflow is called Mill Cyclops - a virtual production toolkit that when partnered with a game engine (such as Epic’s Unreal 4) enables real-time rendering and integration of digital assets into film and augmented reality to a level of fidelity never seen before.  

Until now, photo-real CG objects required days of rendering to produce high quality imagery. Mill Cyclops allows realistic objects to be rendered and integrated into live action footage instantly, in real-time, drawing on the responsive nature of gaming to create interactive film.

Cyclops offers filmmakers a new way of visualising and viewers a new way to experience both traditional film and augmented realty content.

As a filmmaking tool, Mill Cyclops blurs the lines of production and post. Directors and creatives are now able to work with finished quality photo-real digital assets, live on location.

It will also mean audiences or any viewers can affect change in films in ways previously unimagined whilst watching, giving them control over objects, characters and environments. This hybridisation of film and gaming ushers in a new era of possibilities in creative storytelling – films you can play. 

According to Angus Kneale, Chief Creative Officer of The Mill in New York, traditional rendering software for CGI relies on a very synthetic, heavy process. “We’ve flipped it on its head. We’re actually taking digital content and bringing it to location, into the environment where people are shooting, using real-world data to affect it.

“As filmmakers are creating content, they have the ability to actually make the decisions on-set – creative decisions. And if you actually put the CGI characters into the real environment, suddenly everybody involved in the production has a much clearer view of what they’re trying to capture. I believe this is really going to stimulate creativity and allow people to really come up with things on the fly,” he says.

Mill Cyclops was developed with the future of Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) in mind.  Cyclops holds great potential for the future of these mediums, because creatives will be able to embed CG objects within these worlds that have a much higher level of fidelity, and even take on properties of the real world – advancing realism, which in turn unlocks people’s emotional reactions.

“The benefits for a traditional production are very clear to us. But where we start seeing the groundbreaking benefits of Mill Cyclops is in the future of augmented reality and mixed reality,” says Kneale. “The beauty of this tech is that CG objects will have such heightened realism, they will feel like they are actually there in your physical space, and the implications of that are vast.”

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Mill New York, Tue, 28 Mar 2017 09:26:03 GMT