Pixotope provides the technological force behind the virtual world of the Hangzhou Asian Games

The opening and closing ceremonies of the 19th Asian Games and the 4th Asian Para Games held in Hangzhou, China, showcased the real potential of virtual technology, leaving audiences awestruck with their dazzling and futuristic effects.

Behind these stunning visuals are the companies and technology providers that made it all possible. Leading the way as domestic provider of virtual experience technology solutions was 4U Technology, the official virtual technology provider for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Asian Games and Asian Para Games, and global virtual production specialists, Pixotope.

Huang Lei, vice president of 4U (Beijing) Technology, said: “All the virtual production technology used in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Hangzhou Asian Games and Asian Para Games was powered by Pixotope. In addition, all of the virtual content seen during the opening and closing ceremonies, such as digital robots and stunning AR effects, was also made possible with Pixotope’s comprehensive range of virtual production solutions.”

Multiple Pixotope VS/AR engines were used in the ceremonies, with 4U spearheading content creation. Collaborating closely with 4U’s designers and artists, the Pixotope team ensured the development of immersive visuals and effects were precisely tailored to the events’ theme. Once the content reached its final iteration, 4U took charge of configuring the virtual environments and setting up the AR elements to align with the ceremonies’ requirements.

Throughout rehearsals, Pixotope fine-tuned each presentation, utilising its intuitive interface to make any necessary adjustments in real-time. This meant that on event day the pre-planned sequences were flawless.

Huang Lei added: “High-profile, large-scale sporting events like the Asian Games that include live broadcasting require a high level of stability from all products and systems. From 4U’s perspective, it’s critical to ensure that the products we choose can maintain stability in such a high-demand live broadcast environment. Drawing from 4U’s extensive experience with Pixotope and in the broadcast and television industry, Pixotope solutions were deemed most capable of handling this task efficiently, which is why we ultimately chose them for the live broadcast.”

Pixotope general manager for North Asia, Matthew Ma, said: “One of the most remarkable aspects of the Pixotope solutions utilised in the Asian Games was the seamless implementation of augmented reality (AR) with physical environments, crafting a visually stunning spectacle that truly captivated audiences. Moreover, Pixotope’s real-time responsiveness empowered the production team to make on-the-fly adjustments during the ceremonies, ensuring that every moment unfolded with precision and finesse.”

Huang Lei also believes that using the Pixotope system for the Asian Games was extremely convenient and improved production efficiency commenting. “During the opening ceremony, they used three primary camera positions along with one backup position for shooting,” he explained. “Under these conditions, it was essential for the staff and engineers to see the AR objects’ output and their integration with the real scenes during the preliminary setup and live broadcast. This was especially important during the testing phase.

“For example, when the 4U team created a virtual AR soccer ball the design team could have been in a situation when they could only design the model without knowing how it will look from the perspective of the three camera positions. However, with Pixotope’s system, they could easily and effortlessly enable the production and testing staff to see the composite output, even when it was not in a live broadcasting environment. This rapid feedback allowed them to quickly and accurately position the virtual content in the right place. In short, Pixotope technology played a crucial role in AR, speeding up the production and testing processes and enhancing overall efficiency.”

Huang Lei continued: “The 4U team, along with the entire directorial execution team of the Asian Games, highly praised the Pixotope system. Paramount in our view was its stability during live broadcasting. The system never failed or experienced any crashes from the first boot-up during the Asian Paralympic Games to the shutdown at the closing ceremony. This gave the directorial team and 4U’s execution team tremendous confidence. Throughout the process, the virtual production department and Sha Xiaolan [general director and producer of the Hangzhou Asian Games] highly commended their work.”

He concluded: “Pixotope has also taken the lead in making studios more interactive. Traditional virtual studio products simply combine camera images with virtual content, which is unlikely to change. However, Pixotope has succeeded in creating excellent interactions between the people in the camera images and the virtual content. This innovation is essential for the industry, as it introduces new technologies to improve programme shooting. Pixotope’s user interface is also clear and straightforward, not requiring a complex understanding of blueprints like many other products. In short, the use of Pixotope solutions at the 19th Asian Games and the 4th Asian Para Games was a complete success.”

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