Sponsor Session – 4Wall
4:10pm in Studio A
The Spectrum of Reality: How Technology is Changing the Way We Tell Stories
As technology becomes second nature to future generations, what are the implications for effective storytelling beyond tomorrow?
In this session, Nick Rivero, co-founder of disguise subsidiary, Meptik, transcends the confines of traditional tech talk and explores the profound impact that lies ahead. Content is the heartbeat of our tomorrow, intertwining itself with every aspect of our lives. As content creators & facilitators, staying attuned to the content preferences of future generations becomes crucial to engage them effectively.
Delve into the impact the advancements of technology will have on future storytelling, as we move at an unprecedented pace toward a converged existence of physical and digital realms.
J.T. Rooney 00:12
All right, we have two sponsor presentations this afternoon, both here in Stage A, we have for a while first, so we’re going to let for all have a little chat about their space. Maybe some time for some questions. If you have questions that don’t fit into the time we have, please find them afterwards. I’m sure they’ll be happy to chat. So, off to you guys. Thank you. Thank you.
Ben Danielowski 00:32
Hello. My name is Ben from 4Wall. And this is Matt. And let’s just be clear, we are sponsors. So unlike everybody else who was asked to talk, we bought our way up here. So let’s just know that right off the bat, we’re here because, you know, all right,
Mathew Leland 00:51
thank you so much. I’m, as he mentioned, I met as well, I’m gonna, I’m gonna jump into it, we’ve got a short period of time. So before we get into the actual meat of the conversation, and kind of the things that we want to talk about a little bit, about the last year that we’ve spent kind of working to move this giant virtual production XR experience into like a major broadcast facility. It’s kind of fun to talk about how we got here really quickly, and I think it probably mirrors a lot of other people’s stories, especially the last talk that we we just listened to
Ben Danielowski 01:26
how many people started off as lighting people. Oh, not as many as I expected.
Mathew Leland 01:31
Yeah, usually that’s much higher. How many people started in theater? Okay, yeah, that one’s that one’s a little bit. Yeah. Ultimately, I think we’ve gone through the same thing that everyone else has, you know, we hit COVID. And we were like, What are we going to do, and there was this cool, virtual production path. And so we had a lot of time on our hands. But we kind of walked into both TV and film and then broadcast without really any experience in those fields. So that was fun.
Ben Danielowski 02:01
We kind of just talked to people and stood next to people who were veterans in the industry and shook our head and said, Okay, how do we integrate what we do into what you do, and it’s a, it’s just been a, I guess, a path of us fumbling and picking up the ball and grabbing it and running and continually doing that until we got across the goal line.
Mathew Leland 02:20
And I think we’re always, you know, a lot of these conversations are about adapting, right and changing to the new Technology, it’s moving exponentially. And we’re all just trying to keep up. But I think the the way that we like to frame it is that although we may not be a core part of certain industries, we see ourselves as you know, toolmakers, right, we’d like to put ourselves in the position of looking around, seeing what’s working, what’s not working, and just trying to adapt the tools for the people that are the creatives. And I think that’s how we’ve, you know, first to TV and cinema, and now to broadcast that’s kind of what we think we’ve been really good at doing, which is to say, we’re not the creators, we don’t know the process, but what we can do is see the gaps between this new Technology, and well, how they want to use it to create, and the education that goes along with it, and just try to be facilitators. You know, we have, there’s a couple examples of that, you know, in terms of how we how we handle Technology on set,
Ben Danielowski 03:27
let’s just, you know, right off the bat, DIT, we don’t want to learn how to pick up that workflow. But we can help facilitate that right into the LED walls, and where that runs. Sorry, Michael’s laughing, and I just got distracted there. You know, where instead of us learning how to do that we’re putting the tools back in the hands of maybe a new workflow, but the, but it’s familiar to them, and it lets them do everything the way that they’re used to.
Mathew Leland 03:58
And I think that, you know, I want to be clear that, you know, some of these tools are things that we have to create, you know, Alex up here, has done a lot of work to help facilitate our integration between disguise servers, and lighting and the way that we have to adapt quickly on set. But a lot of these tools also are coming from the manufacturers and the developers themselves. So I just want to be clear about that. We’re certainly not taking credit for a lot of this stuff, we really do feel like, we’re oftentimes trying to choose between things that are already productized. And then when those kind of fall short of the task that we’re trying to do, it will then jump in and try to develop something bespoke. But oftentimes, we’re looking for things that already do it. And then generally trying to put them together in a way that functions
Ben Danielowski 04:46
and I’ll try to do that and tell you about it without talking about it, because we’re trying real hard not to do victory laps. Which I know is a thing. So
Mathew Leland 04:57
yeah. So I think that what’s really The exciting about trying to figure out how TV and film work. And then jumping into broadcast is there’s a whole new set of problems that need to be solved. And I think that is what was exciting about the time we’ve spent at ESPN. And again, to be clear, of so many people in this room have been a part of that project. And the team on on site directly working for ESPN has been a huge developer of it.
Ben Danielowski 05:26
Well, and not just so many people, I think one of the interesting things about how we fit into that group was any P had the build. We were there as integrators, there were people from Jack Morton any P, a handful of other companies, designing sets, bringing in Content, disguise all the servers, and you know, fitting, not just a the workflow of how we’re going to keep everybody working together. And harmoniously, as we’re all, you know, stepping into each other’s worlds and where everybody is kind of playing together.
Mathew Leland 06:00
It’s a, it all kind of falls into the workflow. Yeah. And so there were some pretty targeted, new obstacles, some immovable and some movable that I think were really interesting and fun to play with. And one of them is something that’s like, very simple, you know, you’re dealing with a large broadcast facility, I can’t just be like, can I just take this and plug it in over here and just make it work? The answer is absolutely not, it’s going to take three weeks, and it’s going to take five departments, because you’re gonna have to go through seven networks. And simply because five years ago, lighting didn’t need to integrate with, you know, an unreal render machine. So that one was sort of immovable. The one of the more exciting ones that I think that we got to take part in trying to solve and are still trying to solve is, in broadcast, the positions are completely different. Right, you’ve got generally one person sitting in a shading room, handling a large amount of tasks. And of course, they are repeatable, but they’re really operator level.
Ben Danielowski 07:04
And the interesting thing about this integration was they wanted to keep with one person to do all of the workflows in this new Technology.
Mathew Leland 07:13
And so I think what was really interesting is that because of the way that they had done AR and other forms of what they would have called virtual production in the past, you basically had a room that now had a connection of 26 Disguise machines, for fully automated robots, you know, running completely separate ghost frames at 50 994, you have the complete control of the virtual set in that room, five floors down from the production suite where the director actually is. And so you know, I do have to say, the internal team, there has been working tirelessly to create this really amazing set of tools that kind of create a web interface to control just a pile of Technology. And, and so that’s been that’s been really exciting to try to figure out how that actually works, how it’s repeatable. And what happens when it breaks down live on air.
Ben Danielowski 08:15
So what does happen when it breaks down live on air? Because I haven’t I haven’t been there to see this part yet. We already got to the question part. Sorry, guys, I’m starting this one,
Mathew Leland 08:24
then I’m gonna just do this, because time is short, but still attempting to solve it. I do think that there is no, you know, magic bullet, when you have that many Camera chains running and that many servers, I think we’re all still trying to create practical ways for failover. But honestly, right now, it’s, it’s more triage. You know, it’s what is our what is our focus? What is our main Camera? What is our hero look? And how do we protect that more than anything, because some of the tighter Camera shots, we could lose, and we could, you know, fail over and cut away from so it’s still in process. But of course, I’m sure more than anybody, this room is well aware of the limitations of Technology and some magical way of failing over it really, is a function of really smart and intuitive people being able to react very quickly and understand what is most important.
Ben Danielowski 09:27
And I think what Matt just said there, the limitation of Technology. I think that’s kind of what we’re the stewards of when we do a lot of these integrations is what is the actual limitation of TechNet. It can do all these fantastic things. But what is the limitation and where do we have to stay away from? And I think with that,
Mathew Leland 09:44
yeah, there you go. That is our short little spiel, and we’re going to open it up for questions
Ben Danielowski 09:50
or give you five minutes to grab a drink.
J.T. Rooney 09:59
Perfect. You guys have a space that people can cope with you as well here, correct? Like,
Ben Danielowski 10:04
I think we struck it. So I think
J.T. Rooney 10:05
Ben Danielowski 10:06
Yeah. Yeah, there’s, if you see us around, you have to hunt you down.
J.T. Rooney 10:14
Ben Danielowski 10:18
J.T. Rooney 10:19
Okay. Someone asked that same question. I’m free hat. I mean, okay, go you’ve seen South Park Right.
Ben Danielowski 10:25
I hope the question is, can I have a hat?
Mathew Leland 10:27
So, maybe not so much the story itself, but like, the more I think it’s the morning show? How, like, how much of that is on HBO? Like, how much of that? I guess, behind the scenes looks actually real and legit. Like, how close did they get to actually being like a broadcast studio in that show? the morning show? Is it the morning show?
Ben Danielowski 10:49
I know the show you’re talking about? But I’ve actually not seen the show
Mathew Leland 10:54
You’re asking how much that show sort of mimics what real what happens in real I don’t actually know because it, it, we’re really in this tiny, tiny little room. And all there is is like a button and you press it and talk to somebody. And that’s it. There’s nobody else there. You’re just kind of in a vacuum waiting for somebody to tell you what to do.
Ben Danielowski 11:12
If you take it, you know, to just go to a different TV. TV show you say you go to the newsroom? Have you seen that one? A couple years back? Yes. Where they’ve got four or five different people in the control room plus a producer. It’s not how it is the way that they are literally running this is one person sits in the wrong room. They are controlling all the cameras, all the graphics, all the AR elements, any of the lighting integration, one person doing the entire thing? It’s, it’s I don’t want to sit in that chair. It’s you know? Yeah, there you go. We do have more hats, if anybody wants to
J.T. Rooney 11:50
Ah see, yeah.
Ben Danielowski 11:53
You just want to have her or do you have a question? Okay.
Mathew Leland 11:57
Can it be both?
Hi, I’m Michael. I was gonna ask how is installing and integrating render stream in a place with corporate IT that at least in the past didn’t love when you brought in your own network switches?
Ben Danielowski 12:10
They don’t? Actually that is is that fabric considered a switch?
Mathew Leland 12:14
No, that is actually the easiest part because it was what you’d expect it to be. I think that that became the only network that was local to the machines in the room and doesn’t touch anything else except for the management part
Ben Danielowski 12:28
But KVMs. Let me tell you, that was not that was not fun trying to get that between the rooms. But that I mean, that’s really the you know, the graphic we had a minute ago about, you know, networks, the internet or whatever. That’s where this really this graphic came from was just because the thought of, you know, the reason we had Alex help us build a, an integration tool to get lighting. It wasn’t about these things didn’t exist. It was there was no way to do it and get it through their network without having custom software to do it.
Did you meet the architect?
Ben Danielowski 13:05
No. Did you?
… so we didn’t have to talk to him.
J.T. Rooney 13:12
There’s gonna be a whole separate conference about networking. I think we’re gonna be a networking networking conference. I think it will be the next one maybe
Ben Danielowski 13:20
I think it would probably be four days.
J.T. Rooney 13:22
There’s a lot to dig into. But thank you so much for you guys. Thank you.
talk, broadcast, technology, network, room, working, workflow, limitation, integration, create, lighting, repeatable, tools, running, virtual, set, espn, people, graphic, adapt
J.T. Rooney, Mathew Leland, Ben Danielowski