In the EU-funded DreamSpace project, we developed novel depth-aware 360 video capture and processing technology as well as authoring tools for creating immersive experience spaces. This was demonstrated in numerous art performances, and in the context of virtual studio cinema and broadcasting work by partners. Our underlying multi-camera video capture technology is mature and being commercialized by a spin-off company AZilPix, with applications in cost-effective multi-camera TV broadcasting and a cloud platform for medical surgery training.
About the Innovator
The Expertise center for Digital Media in Diepenbeek, Belgium (partner in iMinds, now IMEC) has been focussing on visual media capture, synthesis, processing, rendering, network distribution, display and interaction for 30 years. We’re a Hasselt university research lab, realizing that we can and should in the first place serve society and support the future development of the region. We’re old enough to know the field of visual media from its roots, and young enough to enthusiastically participate in shaping its future, every day.
What is the innovation
We’ve been working together with great partners in many EU funded projects, including DreamSpace. Our long term goal is to create a new visual medium that preserves realism like video, but allows the freedom of navigation, interaction, and manipulation of 3D environments like in synthetic 3D computer graphics, thus bridging the gap between 3DCG and video. We do that while collaborating with visionary creative partners (like CREW in Brussels) from the start, because we believe technological and creative R&D shall go hand in hand from the start. In DreamSpace, we researched novel approaches for 360+depth video capture, video view interpolation, and authoring of and interaction with such content in immersive experience spaces.
Out of the lab – Into the Market
We usually focus on a spectrum of medium and long term goals in our projects. As one part of DreamSpace, we developed a video capture and processing architecture, serving the long term R&D, but being mature and useful on its own already today: it supports a novel approach and workflow in video broadcasting by exploiting basic ideas from the area of omnidirectional video. We started a spin-off, together with partners with a long term track record in the broadcast technology industry. The company is called AZilPix and won the prestigious IABM Game Changers award at NAB 2017 in Las Vegas, selected from hundreds of applications by a panel of 30+ members from the industry.
Benefits of participation in the Framework Programme
Even though, as a lab from a regional university, our focus is in supporting the region in the first place, collaboration at EU scale in major EU projects has been essential in ensuring our work is and remains relevant also at a larger scale. EU projects have provided us a strong network with leading academic and industry partners, collaboration with some of the best, enduring critical evaluation, allowed to reach critical mass, and the exchange of ideas with collaborators all over the EU during (and after) meetings has been inspiring and fun throughout.