Glassbox: real-time virtual production workflows are round the corner

Game engines are set to be the heart of real-time technologies used across feature films, television, animation, or mixed reality worldwide. Glassbox wants to be in the front row.

Glassbox: real-time virtual production workflows are round the corner

With 2019 being the year when powerful real-time virtual production toolsets gain total acceptance as solutions to create stunning, immersive content fast and efficiently, Glassbox Technologies launched.

Founded in 2016 by industry veterans, combining expertise in VFX, Immersive, and real-time technologies, Opaque Studios is now Glassbox Technologies, a software developer rerady to offer solutions for a market whose production tools are going through a drastic change. Glassbox Technologies designs next-generation software toolsets that enable content creators globally to harness the power of game engines and real-time, virtual production to create stunning, immersive content fast and efficiently for feature film, episodic TV, animation, games and Virtual Reality experiences.

Headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in Germany, Australia and Taiwan, Glassbox Technologies is co-founded by CEO Norman Wang and Chief Product Officer Mariana Acuña-Acosta. Glassbox has also welcomed Philippa Carroll and Andrew Britton to the team, as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and Chief Technology Officer, respectively.

Glassbox: real-time virtual production workflows are round the corner
From left to right: Philippa Carroll, Norman Wang, Mariana Acuña-Acosta, Andrew Britton

From game engines to mixed reality

Carroll previously spent many years leading Foundry’s Media Production product division, responsible for all business strategy, product management and marketing for industry-leading tools Nuke, Nuke Studio, Katana, Mari, Flix, and CaraVR. Britton most recently served as Head of Software Development for Holochip, where he developed a real-time light field display renderer and led software development for the R&D team; he previously served as CBS Digital’s Head of Technology for six years, building the studio’s asset, production and color pipelines, in addition to delivering custom R&D for television production hardware, computer vision software, and virtual production solutions.

Glassbox Technologies launch is marked by the announcement that the company wants to bring real-time virtual production workflows to content creators worldwide. Their solutions, based on the team uniquely combined expert knowledge of game engines and mixed reality platforms with real-world VFX and production experience, offers “powerful, platform agnostic, real-time virtual production toolsets.” Glassbox is now announcing private betas for two key solutions that will be publicly available, off-the-shelf, for Unreal Engine, Unity 3D and Autodesk Maya later this year.

Glassbox: real-time virtual production workflows are round the corner

Tools tested on the front line

“We believe that game engines and real-time technology have the power to revolutionize filmmaking and visualization across industries, and we’ve been hard at work developing tools that will help creative teams achieve their goals with simple, off-the-shelf packages that integrate with whichever game engine and digital content creation applications they prefer,” shared Acuña-Acosta. “Our team is excited today to unveil our new name and new tools to the wider community for the first time.”

Aligned to the latest advances in Unreal Engine, Unity 3D and leading 2D and 3D CG software applications, and built in collaboration with innovative technology partners and major Hollywood studios, Glassbox’s tools are, says the company, “crafted and battle-tested on the front line of cutting-edge virtual production techniques, to ensure the creation of complex virtual performances is as easy as live action filmmaking.”

Glassbox: real-time virtual production workflows are round the corner

A virtual camera for filmmakers

Glassbox has collaborated with top Hollywood visualization and production studios including The Third Floor and leading game engine developers Unreal Engine and Unity 3D to develop its production-proven, real-time virtual production solutions – delivering a streamlined and enhanced real-time production pipeline for studios and individuals looking to game engines for increased efficiencies. According th the company, the following are now available for private beta testers:

DragonFly (Virtual Camera System):

DragonFly is a powerful cross-platform virtual camera that gives filmmakers the ability to view seamless integration of CG environments and characters in real-time, whether viewing through the camera’s viewfinder, an external monitor, an iPad, or a virtual reality headset. Harnessing the power of game engines, DragonFly is compatible off-the-shelf with Unreal, Unity and Maya, plus a wide range of tracking solutions including OptiTrack, and ARKit.

“We’ve been working closely with the Glassbox team over the past few years to develop and test their real-time virtual camera system in demanding production conditions, and we’ve been impressed by the capabilities,” said Addison Bath, Global Head of Research & Development, The Third Floor. “Virtual production workflows have traditionally been complex and expensive to build out, with each studio having to create proprietary systems. With a product like DragonFly, the benefits of real-time virtual production become much more widely accessible.”

BeeHive (Virtual Collaboration, Sync & Review):

BeeHive is a cutting edge multi-user toolkit for real-time collaboration, review and synchronization, connecting and managing virtual production workflows for both local and distributed teams across multiple workstations and platforms. Streamlining the exchange of data between cameras, DCC applications, and even game engines, this cross-platform tool lets teams review and modify assets, iterate on lighting and VFX, and visualize entire virtual worlds all together in real-time, no matter your tool of choice or geographical location – manipulating content and viewing results in Maya, Unreal, or Unity. BeeHive’s powerful real-time collaborative capabilities remove creative constraints to help individuals working across the entire production process iterate faster and collaborate with ease.

Glassbox: real-time virtual production workflows are round the corner

Live Client for Unreal Engine

“BeeHive changes the landscape for creatives working on VR, games, and other real time content,” shared Ian Forester, CEO at VR Playhouse. “Collaboration, especially with remote team members, is one of the more frustrating parts of working in real-time, but with BeeHive, iteration time is cut from hours to seconds as decision makers experience creative changes as they are made. Studios using BeeHive will have an easier time hitting deadlines, staying on budget, and delivering truly excellent experiences as they can more easily explore their creative options. It makes working in virtual worlds a lot more like working in the real world, which lets filmmakers bring their full set of tools to work in real-time. It’s truly unprecedented.”

Glassbox is also the developer of the popular Live Client for Unreal Engine plugin that connects Faceware’s Live Server to the Unreal Engine, enabling real-time markerless facial capture and animation within game engine. This production-proven plugin has been used by companies including Psyop, MacInnes Scott, and Hasbro to not only see digital performances on set in real-time, but also deliver animated performances during live broadcasts in real-time.

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…

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