February 8, 2019

Lux Machina brings real-time control to live event broadcast effects with Unreal Engine


Massive screens, custom-built set pieces and sophisticated lighting are a hallmark of polished live event productions, though integrating those components into existing broadcast transmission infrastructure can be a challenge. Enter Lux Machina, a company that designs virtual production systems for live broadcast events and has worked behind-the-scenes on shows ranging from The Golden Globes to the NFL Honors, the MTV Movie Awards and more.
 
For live events and awards shows, Lux Machina CTO Philip Galler works side-by-side with production designers to set the tone for a show through lighting, effects and video appearing on stage screens and LED-enabled set pieces.
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 “When we’re prepping for a show, the lighting designer might ask us to change the look of something, whether it’s a particle effect, the color, speed, or bloom. With our traditional tools these effects are baked in and can take hours to rebuild and render; but with generative effects in Unreal Engine, I can quickly build these changes in Niagara in a matter of minutes. We can build cues into our system to fire the Unreal server to trigger looks to match each act of the show. For us to be able to control these changes on-the-fly is super valuable,” explained Galler.
 
Lux Machina recently developed a workflow for Unreal Engine to perform like a traditional media server using C++ to build output management and Blueprint plug-ins for mastering controls.
 
“The signal path from our Unreal Engine server goes right into the truck and comes right back out, so it’s no different than a traditional broadcast server,” said Galler. “Even though the graphics are generative, everything we produce is broadcast-friendly and can easily incorporate into traditional systems.”
 
This workflow was recently deployed during the 2019 Golden Globes broadcast, and Lux Machina plans to transition more aspects of its traditional media server to the Unreal Engine system. “Having the flexibility to make changes in real-time while working with clients is a game changer, and with Unreal Engine we have the ability to build augmented reality and camera tracking into broadcasts which is becoming a bigger requirement for both our live event and feature film clients,” added Galler.

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