Virtual Solutions Components
Ross Virtual solutions are comprised of various Ross systems including real-time motion graphics, robotic pedestals and dollies, control and operation software, news and social media systems, production switchers, signal processing, routing, and automated production control.
UX Virtual Operating Environment • UltrachromeHR for exceptional quality chroma keying • ACID cameras for image acquisition • Carbonite and Acuity production switchers • OverDrive automated production control • XPression real-time motion graphics and clip playback • openGear for video delay and signal processing • Ultrix for powerful routing and monitoring • Inception News/Social for story input • CamBot 700 camera robotics pedestal • Furio camera robotics with dolly and rails
Control and Operations Components
UX Virtual Operating Environment
Ross offers an operator environment designed specifically for the non-engineering user providing extensive ease-of-use by taking the technical complexity out of deploying and operating virtual environments.
User Xperience, or UX, is a software application that integrates the technical components required for keying, tracking, and rendering to ensure the illusion of the integration of the real and virtual worlds. UX manages camera tracking and enables full control of virtual elements that can be triggered through RossTalk.
Your virtual content can be produced using a variety of methods — automation, an MOS Workflow environment, a production switcher, or through the UX control application.
UX Server is a software camera router that enables UX to be configured to work with various XPression render engines for multiple uses. UX Server can be used to quickly enable a backup renderer, set up render priority swaps, or enable multiple cameras per renderer. The UX interface is broken into four quadrants that can be customized for the user.
UX Track offers calibration tools for virtual cameras to real-world cameras with controls for six different sections: Camera, Garbage Mattes, Offsets,
Setup Calibrate, Setup Camera, and Studio Set-up.
UX Config controls the configuration of your project files and network settings, and provides the status of cameras, tracking, and network connections viacolor coded icons.
UX Position enables you to move, rotate, scale, save positions of elements and create tween animations of objects in the scene.
UX Router enables images, videos, or live sources to play in virtual monitors using a simple drag and drop approach. Click the content and then the target — it’s that easy.
UX Events is a powerful yet easy to use tool that combines all of the above to create complex virtual moves and camera moves into one button events. External devices can be added through RossTalk.
XPression Real-Time Motion Graphics
Sophisticated graphics systems are crucial to virtual solutions. They must calculate everything in 3D, together with positioning data and some creative input. When displaying an over the shoulder graphic, a camera move using Ross Robotics systems can show the viewer an amazing world where the graphics are literally hovering over the talent’s shoulder, or data can emerge out of the floor, wall, ceiling, or virtual monitors on the set. The big difference between a simple key and sophisticated augmented reality is camera motion, so the combination of systems like CamBot or Furio with XPression graphics rendering makes complex looks possible repeatedly and effortlessly.
Virtual solutions using UX and XPression can create airy spaces with realistic textures, variable lighting, natural depth of field, and live outdoor camera shots viewable through virtual windows. Studios can be reconfigured at the touch of a button for different shows without wearing out, breaking down, or showing the clutter. Additionally, there is no longer a requirement to have a large space to achieve a large look. Support pillars and room shapes no longer matter.
XPression includes the latest generation graphics engine which is also suitable for your virtual sets and augmented reality. Built-in virtual tools like depth-of-field, lens distortion, image centering and sizing, and a global camera make XPression ideal for your toughest virtual applications. Support for Ross Robotics, Egripment Cranes, as well as tracking and calibration interfaces for third party camera systems via Ross UX software means that XPression will work in nearly any virtual or augmented reality environment. For more cost-effective virtual sets, XPression works with Ross Trackless Studio when tracking data is not present.
Broadcasters and content creators have increasingly been turning to virtual studios because of the clear commercial and creative benefits. Modest studio spaces can be made to look much larger and more impressive, and set design can be quickly and easily changed for different applications. This enables studio spaces to be used much more flexibly and profitably.
The Frontier graphic rendering platform offers designers incredible levels of creative freedom combined with hyper-realistic rendering quality that makes virtual sets look much more natural and convincing. Even the most complex graphical elements – from rain drops and fire, to live shadows, lens flares and dynamic highlights – can now be created quickly, easily and with unprecedented realism.
At its core, Frontier is a highly advanced video gaming engine capable of amazingly photorealistic scenery, and it has been optimized by Ross Video to work in Virtual Studio environments.
Frontier uses the cutting edge Unreal gaming engine, from Epic Games, as the render engine, which provides superior high realism scenery through state-of-the-art features such as particle systems, dynamic textures, live reflections and shadows and even collision detection. Used as a backdrop renderer, Frontier works side by side with XPression motion graphics systems, which renders all the foreground elements. This combination with XPression guarantees the best of both worlds – photorealistic backgrounds and unparalleled creative freedom along with unmatched data connectivity, visual logic programming and full support for most major workflows.
Chroma Key Components
UltrachromeHR Chroma Keying
UltrachromeHR is a stand-alone multichannel chroma key processor designed to meet the challenging key requirements of multi-camera virtual environments. It is based on the Carbonite Black processing engine, and can take camera signals and internally combine them to generate full bandwidth key edges. The chroma keyer outputs standard HD-SDI 4:2:2 signals that are beautifully composited with your virtual environment.
Carbonite UltrachromeHR incorporates patented and patent pending signal processing technology designed to generate high-resolution key edges from chroma channels information. It includes up to four high-resolution chroma keyers, each with full control of delay management, fill color temperature for scene matching, foreground key and fill, internal storage for animated graphics for bugs etc. and much more.
While this chroma keyer produces spectacular results from standard HD-SDI video inputs, the subtle refinements of key edges can be greatly improved when used in combination with Ross ACID camera systems. These cameras output a second signal that contains full resolution chroma information that is not available in standard 4:2:2 signals. Carbonite UltrachromeHR accepts this special full resolution chroma signal and internally combines it with the standard video input to produce high-resolution 4:4:4 key edges that are simply not possible from standard video inputs.
The Carbonite UltrachromeHR chroma key system will also produce amazing results from standard 4:2:2 camera inputs, and is probably the best chroma key ever designed. It is also equipped with features and ease of use that you will not find in any other product, but of course the combined package with Ross ACID cameras is unbeatable in the virtual environment.
ACID cameras are unique and have been designed to be not only perfect for studio production, but also offer unprecedented performance when used as Chroma Key sources for virtual productions.
There are two ACID camera versions: the AC-Z50-UCHR – a moderately priced 1080i camera with good performance that’s perfect for Point of View robotic systems and small studio applications.
Then there is the top of the line AC-H200-UCHR, a very high performance Full HD 1080p camera that offers best in class sensitivity and picture quality with very low noise.
Both are 2/3” 3 sensor cameras, the Z50 is CCD based and the H200 is UAIT MOS, and they accept all B4 2/3” lenses.
Both cameras have a very unique feature invented by Ross. The HD-SDI signal format for normal production is 4:2:2 – that means the chroma channels are band limited to half the bandwidth of the Luma channel. This is fine for all normal production, but when used to create a chroma key it lacks the high frequency detail necessary to create well defined key edges. To truly create a great chroma key, it is necessary to receive the full color information from the camera.
ACID cameras have not only SMPTE standard video outputs, but also include a unique signal called UltraChromeHR. This signal contains full bandwidth color information in a patented 0:4:4 coding format. The standard 4:2:2 and UltraChromeHR outputs are received by the UltraChromeHR chroma keying system and internally combined to create beautiful keys from the resultant 4:4:4 signals. The result of this unique combination – astonishingly good chroma keys.
Also, the high performance ACID H200 camera has another unique feature. It has been designed with sensor gain management to enable lowering the chroma noise floor by a considerable amount as well as adding some up-front dynamic noise reduction. These two designs make the output significantly quieter than any other camera system. The result – noise free chroma key edges.
However, even if you don’t use chroma keys, Ross ACID cameras are a perfect fit for your production studio. The ACID Cameras are full featured cameras that capture the very highest quality images, the H200 is a progressive 1100 Line resolution camera with high sensitivity and very low signal to noise, it is fully featured and will produce fantastic images in any environment. The Z50 Camera has great performance and moderately price for less demanding applications. They can be equipped with viewfinders and all the accessories necessary for a full studio rig and of course fit incredibly well with Ross robotic camera systems.
In addition, ACID cameras include fully integrated DashBoard controls for setup and paint, which can be fully integrated with the rest of your production system control.
Any production that includes chroma key use from standard weather sets to full virtual environments will benefit from the combination of ACID cameras and Carbonite UltrachromeHR. It is truly a package with unbeatable visual performance that you must see to believe.
Carbonite Black Production Switchers
Ross offers mid-size and larger production switchers from 1 to 4 ME. There is a wide array of control panel sizes, two MultiViewers as standard, and unique processing and integration features.
These switchers pack major effects and keying power into every ME. Each ME has powerful keyers with luma, linear, Chroma and DVE key types as well as an additional 5th hidden keyer for animated Media Wipe and DVE transitions. The superior quality of chroma keying of the switchers makes for amazingly good results when used for virtual applications. Advanced pattern generators per ME are available for wipes, pattern masks and color washes. High quality 2D DVE channels are available system-wide. The DVE’s ‘float’ within the system architecture allowing all to be assigned to a single ME or distributed across ME’s as the production demands. Independent media player channels are also available switcher wide. Stills, logos and animated graphics can be played out from the on-board memory.
The video production engines can support SD, HD, 3G, and UHD formats. Synchronization and conversion functions provide the ability to mix some formats seamlessly into your productions.
Direct control of external devices is simple with Ross switchers. Servers, Robotic Cameras, select Audio Mixers and, of course XPression motion graphics systems can all be integrated.
OverDrive Automated Production Control
Sophisticated graphics systems are crucial to virtual solutions. Now that more newsrooms and studios use automated production control systems like OverDrive integrated with camera robotics, the introduction of virtual sets and augmented reality become an easy next step forward.
Automated production control systems make it possible to produce faster paced, richer, and more consistent productions with fewer errors. The system provides the greatest possible efficiencies, so that in some cases only one person is needed in the control room. OverDrive orchestrates all of the production components including the production switcher, audio mixer, graphics system, video server, audio server, and robotic cameras.
Inception Newsroom Computer & Social Media Management
Content and workflow management systems are the tools used to gather data from various sources, plan how to put the information together, and then schedule how and when the content will be presented. As such, they are important inputs to virtual solutions when put together with an integrated graphics system.
Inception News is a browser-based newsroom content and editorial system encourages content collaboration, and it’s designed to work anywhere, from the newsroom to the field. It offers flexible and modern workflows and places social media integration right into the center of news production.
Social media is a core aspect of Inception News, and for productions where social media integration is desired, but a full newsroom operation is not required, Inception Social fills this need.
openGear Signal Processing & Conversion
openGear modular frames and cards provide signal processing and conversion, and are based on an open standard.
These open architecture signal processing solutions offer a wide range of analog and digital products to cover A/V distribution, conversion, and interface needs that are applicable everywhere, including 24/7 and live production deployments. One example typically required for virtual solutions are modules that can manage video delay.
Ultrix is a compact but incredibly powerful routing switcher platform capable of switching video signals from 270 Mb/s to 12 Gb/s. The small form factor saves rack space with high density, compact one and two rack unit frames. The router is easy to deploy and maintain with an integrated control system that provides configuration, soft panels, discovery, and interoperability.
Ultrix provides maximum performance and quality with standard configurations supporting data rates up to 3 Gb/s. However, users can purchase the Ultrispeed software licenses that enables 12 Gb/s performance throughout every signal path within the router. When combined with the inherent capabilities within the frame, the Ultrispeed license also enables routing of the emerging single link UHD 60Hz standard alongside current Quad link 4k signals, and seamlessly switch these signals back and forth to each other.
If more multi-viewers are needed beyond what Carbonite Black or Acuity provides, Ultriscape is a software enabled multiviewer in the frame with no special output boards, crosspoints, or multichannel connection cables needed. Simply enable the desired number of outputs to drive the monitors required, and route any input to whatever multi-viewer head is chosen.
Ultrimix provides software enabled advanced audio integration, including the ability to embed and de-embed audio on all of the inputs and outputs of the router. Users have complete flexibility to process, swap, sum, mute, or route any discrete or embedded audio input to any output.
Third Party Components
To round out complete solutions, Ross Video has made arrangements with various third party suppliers to sell and integrate their products to fulfill various virtual applications.
Canon and Fujinon
In order for virtual cameras in graphics systems and the real cameras viewing the real elements and talent to have the exact same perspectives, an “encoded” camera lens is required that provides the lens Focal Length (zoom) and Focus data to Ross virtual tracking applications. More importantly, the virtual lens Field of View (FOV) must be properly calibrated to match the FOV of the real lens.
Full servo digital lenses with 16-bit encoders are needed for virtual productions. Both Canon and Fujinon have low end and high end encoded lenses. A common studio lens is a 17×7.6 or an 18×7.6. Lenses with a longer zoom ratio like a 22×7.6 will zoom in tighter and are used for long shots such as a sports match on-field Augmented Reality. Lenses like a 14×4.3 are wide lenses that work well on jibs or in smaller spaces.
When lighting a blue or green screen (Cyc), it’s important to make sure that the screen is evenly lit with soft, broad lighting sources and the best possible color saturation. Evenness is easily achieved using Kino Flos because of the soft quality of the light and the wide beam spread. The best results are not as much about how much light is used to light a screen, but rather what produces the best saturation of reflected blue or green light.
Softlights have more light output per watt than tungsten lighting, lower power consumption, and lower heat output. The lamps along with Kino Flo’s soft cool fixtures with manual and DMX light control make Kino Flo a favorite choice among lighting professionals.
Traditionally, virtual set and augmented reality segments are shot against a completely seamless green screen background. To create the best green screen background possible, it is essential to have a good cyclorama (a.k.a. “cyc”) against which to shoot. A good cyc is one that, when properly installed and lit with proper lighting, presents a virtually seamless background to the camera, with no shadows or visible transitions from floor to wall and in the corner(s). This will enable the chroma keying hardware and/or software to operate most efficiently and with little to no “clean-up” which can affect the resolution and quality of the final output.
The most effective cyc backgrounds are generally made from modular cove parts that are predesigned to fit together and have appropriately sized vertical and horizontal radiuses.
Pro Cyc systems are well designed, high quality, and customizable, to offer a proven and cost effective way to construct a cyclorama studio. Because Pro Cyc systems are all modular, they can also be used by many small studios who want the highest quality yet affordable coved wall. Whether you have 100 square feet of studio space or 10,000 square feet, Pro Cyc has a system to meet your needs.