Prototype motion scene camera

At IBC 2013 ARRI presented the results achieved to date by SCENE, a ground-breaking European research project. On display at the IBC Future Zone booth was the ARRI ALEXA SCENE prototype, an RGB+Z camera that couples an ALEXA Studio with a time-of-flight camera, allowing it to capture RGB images fused with depth information on the Z-axis.

By delivering synchronized video data and depth data, the camera will permit video images to be manipulated in the same way as CGI; work by project partners will allow CGI models to be animated with all the naturalism of real actors and real locations. This innovative fusion of image-based and computer graphic information with metadata delivers an inherently 3D, spatio-temporally consistent worldview, opening up exciting new possibilities in visual effects and other fields.

The on-going SCENE project brings together nine industry-leading partners from Spain, Germany, the UK, Belgium and France, covering the value chain from creative media production, through technology research and product innovation, to the market. Their common goal is to develop novel representations and tools for digital media beyond sample-based (video) or model-based (graphics) systems, and to help prepare for industry acceptance and adoption of this new technology. A non-profit SCENE Association will promote the format and coordinate standardization activities after completion of the project.

The experimental prototype at IBC was a set-ready RGB+Z camera equipped with the newly-developed integrated time-of-flight sensor and capable of recording RGB and Z information synchronously. Both image sensing devices capture their respective images through a common entrance pupil, resulting in a naturally occlusion-free representation of RGB and Z video, with the same field of view. Special hardware, optics, electronics and software have been built to adapt the ALEXA Studio into what might be termed the first motion scene camera.

Dr. Johannes Steurer, ARRI's Principal Research & Development Engineer, commented: "We are very proud to present our motion scene camera to the public at this year's IBC show. Even though it is still a prototype we are confident that the postproduction industry will be highly interested in the new possibilities this technology offers. Compositing, color grading, keying and many more postproduction tasks can be facilitated by our new camera. It provides cutting-edge, high resolution RGB images with fully synchronized depth maps, where both are taken through the same lens and hence feature a parallax-free 3D image of the scene."

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme under the project SCENE.