Microsoft Partners with Pixvana to Bring Innovative 360 Coverage to Microsoft Build 2017

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OverviewMicrosoft turned to Pixvana to take their annual Build Developer conference to the next level by capturing simultaneous 360 coverage of the keynotes and demos shown at the 15,000 attendee event.

AboutMicrosoft, an industry-leading technology company operates in 170 countries and is made up of 114,000 passionate employees dedicated to fulfilling its mission of helping you and your organization achieve more.

ResultsThe new coverage amplified a touchstone event for 15,000+ attendees while simultaneously inviting viewers from around the world to experience the event as though they were there in person.

HeadquartersRedmond, Washington

IndustryTechnology

The Challenge

The developer-focused Microsoft Build conference attracts 15,000 attendees and a global virtual audience hungry for the latest in Windows-based products and software. In 2017, Microsoft wanted their coverage to be as innovative as the new technology they were showcasing, so they investigated VR solutions and selected Pixvana as their partner.

Soon after, challenges arose: How can we capture 360-degree video without disrupting the integrity of the live event? How can we illustrate the magnitude of this flagship conference while providing a close-up view of the latest in software engineering? How can we provide a product that’s as visually interesting as it is informative to at-home viewers?

The Solution

Planning alongside Microsoft, Pixvana producers studied the stage at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle to understand how camera placement could minimize intrusion while maximizing viewing angles. In total, five rigs of six Omni GoPros — the latest and greatest VR camera at the time — were installed: one on the catwalk, two on either side of the stage, one that extended down on a motorized boom to about three feet above eye level, and one human-operated mobile camera onstage. Over three days, keynote addresses were captured in VR, resulting in terabytes of footage spread across five VR cameras.

The Pixvana team stitched together the keynote footage, upscaled it to 4k resolution, and edited it into VR content that was viewable all over the world.

The VR keynote videos, including that of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, featured a unique picture-in-picture visual arrangement, a decision inspired by live monitors at concerts and sporting events. Close-up onstage details were visible without restricting the viewer’s ability to look around the room at will. For bonus content, Pixvana also leveraged the camera setup to produce a high-energy timelapse of the audience filing in and out of the auditorium.

“Our experience at Microsoft Build was an excellent study of process for Pixvana’s production team,” said Aaron Rhodes, executive producer at Pixvana. “The challenge of getting great vantage points without disrupting the live event taught us a lot about the delicate science of live event coverage. Preparation and creative thinking were key in understanding how we were going to achieve this balance and create an effective VR experience for at-home viewers, and I’m content to know we’re moving forward with the lessons we learned from the experience in our back pocket.”

“Our experience at Microsoft Build was an excellent study of process for Pixvana’s production team,” said Aaron Rhodes, executive producer at Pixvana. “The challenge of getting great vantage points without disrupting the live event taught us a lot about the delicate science of live event coverage. Preparation and creative thinking were key in understanding how we were going to achieve this balance and create an effective VR experience for at-home viewers, and I’m content to know we’re moving forward with the lessons we learned from the experience in our back pocket.”

The Results

The partnership amplified a touchstone event for 15,000+ attendees while simultaneously inviting viewers from around the world to experience the event as though they were there in person. The timelapse and keynotes were released in the Microsoft Mixed Reality (MR) marketplace, Microsoft’s digital store for augmented, virtual, and mixed reality content — including 3D video like Pixvana’s Build coverage — available across Windows devices.

Pixvana also built a SPIN Launchkit app exclusively for Windows MR marketplace, allowing Windows developers to publish high quality 360/VR content more easily than ever before. The exclusive software supports Microsoft’s application platform for Windows 10 called the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which allows one app package to reach all Windows 10 devices: PCs, HoloLens, Surface, Xbox, and MR headsets from Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and more.

“Microsoft Build was a great launching point for a lasting relationship with Microsoft,” added Aaron Rhodes, Executive Producer at Pixvana. “Integrating SPIN Studio into the Windows MR marketplace is a big step for Pixvana and the state of VR in general. Making VR production and sharing as accessible as possible is a top priority of ours, and we’re thrilled to play a role in opening the door to VR for developers of all kinds.”

“360 video content is an important use case for Microsoft MR and offers viewers a sense of presence and engagement that is highly compelling for both consumer and business applications,” said Emilio Salvador, Microsoft’s senior director of developer marketing. “Pixvana’s SPIN LaunchKit for Windows MR enables all developers, especially those building media experiences to integrate with minimal effort high-quality MR video on UWP applications.”

“360 video content is an important use case for Microsoft MR and offers viewers a sense of presence and engagement that is highly compelling for both consumer and business applications,” said Emilio Salvador, Microsoft’s senior director of developer marketing. "Pixvana's SPIN LaunchKit for Windows MR enables all developers, especially those building media experiences to integrate with minimal effort high-quality MR video on UWP applications.”

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