We’ve seen the term being used more and more and now seven companies – Verizon, ZEISS, RED Digital Cinema, Unity, Intel, NVIDIA, and Canon – announce the Volumetric Format Association.
Volumetric video has been a buzzword in recent months. ProVideo Coalition has covered the technology different times, from the announcement of the volumetric films premiere at 77th Venice International Film Festival, in September 2020, when Intel Studios showcased volumetric production with two originals honored with selection in the VR Expanded program of the festival, to the Polymotion Stage Truck, the world’s first volumetric studio on wheels, also presented last September.
Last February ProVideo Coalition announced a major step in the use of volumetric video, as Arcturus, the global leader in authoring, editing, and distributing volumetric videos, announced a new partnership with Japan’s top wireless carrier, NTT DOCOMO to stream volumetric videos, using the power of 5G. This May, Arcturus announced a $5 million seed round led by BITKRAFT Ventures with participation from leaders in the sports, telecom, gaming, and music space. The funding will be used to scale the software development team, focus efforts on sales growth, and expand the product line with an emphasis on live streaming features.
A more immersive and interactive experience
Its against that background that the Volumetric Format Association (VFA), the first industry association dedicated to ensuring interoperability across the volumetric video ecosystem, is born, launched by seven founding member companies, the founding charter member Verizon as well as ZEISS, RED Digital Cinema, Unity, Intel, NVIDIA, and Canon. The VFA brings together companies from key industry verticals in the volumetric ecosystem to work together to establish a collection of specifications driving adoption of volumetric capture, processing, encoding, delivery, and playback.
Volumetric video is an innovative way of experiencing content in holographic 3D, allowing the viewer a more immersive and interactive experience. It is characterized by the process of simultaneously capturing content from multiple cameras which can then be viewed from any angle at any point in time. The Volumetric Format Association seeks to facilitate collaboration, innovation, and technology sharing of the new bandwidth-intensive industry format, in order to drive faster development, adoption and ecosystem growth.
“Verizon is proud to be the driving force behind creating this group which we believe will be crucial to laying the foundation for future innovation using volumetric video,” said Denny Breitenfeld, president of the VFA and director of volumetric technology at Verizon. “With 5G’s massive bandwidth, super-fast speeds and ultra-low latency, things like volumetric video capture will be taken to the next level, enabling innovators to turn real people into lifelike, moving 3D holograms in just minutes. We look forward to working with leaders in this industry to develop specifications that will propel volumetric video forward.”
Experience sports like never before
Volumetric Format Association membership allows companies to share intellectual property within the confines of the organization while protecting the value of that IP. The VFA Technical Steering Committee has defined four initial working groups to begin the work of building end to end specifications:
- Capture Acquisition
- Interchange of Data
- Decode & Render
- Persistent Metadata
3D content experiences across sports, entertainment, productivity, enterprise services, and more are fast becoming a reality. The VFA is working to make that reality accessible and practical by developing specifications that will be a catalyst for industry growth. To that end the Volumetric Format Association is opening membership to innovative companies in the volumetric ecosystem. VFA welcomes input, creativity, and collaboration as together they pioneer a new medium.
“Canon is a strong believer in volumetric video technology as evidenced by the new kind of sporting experience we delivered at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. In addition, we opened a volumetric video studio in Kawasaki, Japan that is used by the most advanced creators,” said Mr. Atsushi Date, senior general manager, Canon SV Business Development Center. “Canon is confident that volumetric video technology will enable the world to enjoy sports and entertainment more in many ways that have never been experienced before, and we have high expectations for the results of VFA standardization. This is a big first step of many to come in the rollout of the Canon Volumetric Business.”
Democratizing volumetric video solutions
“As media content evolves from 2D to 3D, volumetric video will impact industries from entertainment to a wide range of enterprise services. In addition to the breadth of our XPU portfolio that spans network, FPGA, CPU and GPU technologies, Intel is working with the Volumetric Format Association and our ecosystem partners to bring advanced and cost-effective volumetric streaming to a variety of customers,” said Lynn Comp, vice president, Data Platforms Group, general manager, Visual Infrastructure Division & NPG Strategy at Intel. “The VFA is an important step in democratizing end-end volumetric video solutions, enabling global supply chains and supporting interoperable solutions and innovation.”
“Volumetric video is changing how customers experience virtual interactions by providing complete immersion with full interactivity that is powered by NVIDIA GPUs,” said Bob Pette, general manager of professional visualization at NVIDIA. “Accelerated computing technology is pushing the boundaries of virtual experiences and bringing together partners to evolve the ecosystem as a whole will be critical to achieving the next generation of AI-driven 3D content.”
“As a brand that was founded on innovation, disruption, and pushing the bleeding-edge of image capture technology, RED is proud and excited to be part of the Volumetric Format Association,” said Brian Henderson vice president, business development at RED. “We will continue to evolve alongside this emerging industry. As a member of the VFA, we will continue to re-define previously held standards of overall image quality, resolution and camera performance in order to provide the best possible images for creators and innovators to work with.”
The biggest shift since B+W went to color
“The Volumetric Format Association is leading the way in how content, especially in sports and M&E, is being presented, and we are seeing the biggest shift since B+W went to color” said Tian Pei, head of business affairs for sports at Unity. “Volumetric technologies encompass the process of capturing, viewing, and interacting with the real world and here at Unity we are pushing the limits of what’s possible and transforming the interactive experience forever.”
“As board members of the Volumetric Format Association, ZEISS strives to abridge the current adoption barriers within the motion picture industry and beyond”, says Snehal Patel, head of cinema sales at ZEISS. Patel continues, “with over 100 years of experience in optical design and innovation, ZEISS is primed to provide key insights into lens technology and its relation to Volumetric workflow. Furthermore, through the VFA specifications, ZEISS hopes to contribute to the accuracy of lens metadata which will play a vital role in the volumetric user experience.”
As the Volumetric Format Association members move rapidly towards the establishment of their specifications, companies interested in joining the organization should reach out by email to [email protected] or see https://www.volumetricformat.org.