OMEN Challenge eSports tournament uses disguise for AR and VR

When the OMEN Challenge 2019 was held in London last September, disguise gx 2c and gx 1 media servers powered the real time generative Notch content that accompanied the gameplay. The eSports event was the first to be broadcast using disguise xR workflows, which combined augmented, virtual and mixed reality technologies.

The fifth annual OMEN Challenge was held with the support of OMEN by HP, with eight players competing for a prize pool of $50,000. The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament featured 1-on-1 matches and four-player deathmatches. The event went above and beyond the traditional esports tournament format, offering a battle arena with a unique and immersive stage and content.

The project, run by creative media agency AKQA, was realised in collaboration with Scott Millar and Pixel Artworks, who designed and developed a bespoke pipeline toolset using disguise, Notch and TouchDesigner, to create a never-before-seen broadcast with AR, mixed reality and live show elements, all broadcast on Twitch and other streaming platforms.

“HP wanted to do something different with big LED video walls, AR and MR tricks that would look good to the live and broadcast audiences,” notes technical producer Scott Millar, working alongside Pixel Artworks to power video for the event using disguise. Real-time MR content was made in Notch, with data coming in from the game to power the info graphics. The final output was carried out in disguise and output to the LED video walls.

Mixed reality was used in two ways during the show, Scott explains. The first was in using a Notch generated studio environment, which allowed the casters to be transported to a different world in-camera. The world could also be rendered from the game engine to place the casters directly into the map.

The second use was to allow players and interviewers to ‘step into’ the game world and replay the biggest moments. Using a Steadicam and rendering the game engine into both the LED and virtual worlds, the players could see themselves in the game, and describe their best moves.

The production team overcame a number of challenges for this project, the main one concerning the sheer novelty of the technologies in use. “What we created had never been done before in this way,” Oliver points out. “On top of that, the game was live streamed and super-fast: These were some of the best OMEN players in the world, and there wasn’t room for error.” They had to pull data out of live matches fast, to visualise for the broadcast while implementing AR and MR designs in-camera for the viewers. Since they worked with cutting-edge technology, there was a lot of figuring out and testing required to fulfil the brief.

The show used four disguise gx 2c media servers, supplied by 80six and Gray Matter, as well as two gx 1 media servers, acting as master and understudy. To power the game rendering and control, plus manage the game data, six TouchDesigner machines were used with custom code written to control the game engine.

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