CMIC staff travel to international graphics conference - SIGGRAPH Asia 2018

Staff from Victoria University of Wellington’s Computational Media Innovation Centre (CMIC) had the opportunity to showcase their latest Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) work at the SIGGRAPH Asia 2018 (SA18) conference in Tokyo.

SA18 brought together close to 10,000 technical and creative experts from over 59 countries for exhibitions, talks, live presentations, and VR/AR demonstrations.

“SIGGRAPH Asia is one of the top international conferences on computer graphics and interactive techniques,” says Professor Ken Anjyo, director of CMIC.

The CMIC group gave two technical presentations, ran a booth as part of the VR/AR demonstrations, and took part in the ‘Real-Time Live!’ program, an exciting opportunity for eight international teams to demonstrate their cutting-edge interactive technology to an audience of nearly 1500 people.

Their ‘Real Time Live!’ performance showcased a technology called MR360 Live, which creates immersive and interactive mixed reality experiences (a combination of reality and virtual reality) for use in various areas including film, interior design, and live broadcasting. MR360 Live blends 3D virtual objects into live-streamed videos in real-time, creating the illusion that the user of the technology is interacting with the 3D virtual objects. MR360 adjusts the object so it fits in with the real-life scenario, including the complicated task of matching light and shadow on the computer-generated object to the real world around it.

The CMIC team also manned a booth and gave two different technical demonstrations during the conference. The booth gave conference attendees the chance to try out a VR headset and interact with virtual characters in a real-world scenario, and the demonstrations further showcased CMIC’s work in mixed reality.

The first of CMIC’s two demonstrations was a collaboration with OLM Digital, one of CMIC’s partners. OLM is best known for creating the Pokémon movies and TV shows. They are using the VR technology developed by CMIC to create mixed reality experiences where users can interact with life-size Pokémon in a virtual reality environment, battling Pokémon against each other just as the characters do in the Pokémon TV show.

The second demonstration was a further look into the MR360 Live technology. During the demonstration, visitors could interact with virtual fish blended into a live-streamed real environment captured in 360-degree panoramic videos.

These demonstrations were awarded 2nd place in the Best VR/AR Technology award during the conference.

“It’s very exciting that the CMIC group attended this conference, because we were the only university team to present cutting-edge interactive technology at the ‘Real-Time Live!’ event,” says Associate Professor Taehyun Rhee, Deputy Director of CMIC. “This event gives us an opportunity to promote Victoria University of Wellington’s research potential and capability in computer graphics and virtual reality or augmented reality technologies and show robust implementation of these technologies to the industry standard by our staff.”

Professor Anjyo, Associate Professor Rhee, and Ms Ayumi Kimura, Program Manager/Collaboration Coordinator at CMIC, were also involved in organising the conference. Professor Anjyo was the Conference Chair for SIGGRAPH Asia 2018, Associate Professor Rhee was Programme Chair of the VR/AR programme, and Ms Kimura was Head of Administration for the conference.