Magazine article Variety

Turning Fantasy to Reality

Magazine article Variety

Turning Fantasy to Reality

Article excerpt

Doc brown's lab in "Backto the Future" is movie magic, but the next best thing may be at Technicolor's Rennes Research & Innovation Lab.

The virtual reality room, where work around visual effects is done, has that crazy-scientists-at-work feel. Among the advanced tech tools developed there is Interactive on-set PreviZ, a prototype augmented-reality plug-in for Maya delivering real-time image compositing and rendering during shooting, haptic feedback for actors, depth-maps for 3D and more, all in a single software package.

The Rennes lab is working on tech for consumers, too. One eye-opening experiment: The immersive Experience, used to enhance movies, combines 360-degree stereoscopic video, 3D audio (sounds that seem to emanate from specific points in space, no matter how they're played back), haptic feedback (which engages the sense of touch) and augmented reality.

"End users today have a real appetite to get effects and augmented reality into the content they consume, so we are going to see more and more professional and consumer technology blending together," says Cristina Gomila, head of the Rennes hub.

Under Gomila's leadership, the Rennes lab specializes in high-definition content tech, from production through transmission and protection. As Gomila says, it's hard to draw a line between pro and consumer tech for Rennes projects like Instant Lighting, which was built to help visual-effects artists see lighting effects in minutes instead of waiting hours for rendering; and lightfield capture tech, which would let users adjust depth-offield, focus and even viewing angle in post-production.

Located in the heart of Rennes' Via Silva eco-city, France's answer to Silicon Valley, the glass-clad 193,750-sq.-ft. facility is filled with open spaces. It was launched by CEO Frederic Rose in 2012, when the company emerged from bankruptcy protection, to regroup in one site all the staff - colorists, researchers and engineers - who had previously been split among three other centers in Rennes. …

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