New York City, United States – November 2021 Silver Spoon, the world-leading real-time animation and virtual production studio, partnered with visual production specialists lulu, to create Fox’s first-ever Augmented Reality (AR) virtual singing competition, Alter Ego, starring an entire cast of virtual avatars. The studios worked closely, developing a unique pipeline to create this unprecedented broadcast AR experience.

Alter Ego is a brand new singing competition hosted by Rocsi Diaz currently airing on Fox. Instead of the performers appearing physically, a combination of advanced performance capture technology and AR tools allows the performers to drive the movement of their digital avatars on stage, in real-time.

Creating 3D avatars ready for real-time 

The partnership between Silver Spoon and lulu brought the show’s vision to life. Stepping into new creative territory, together they designed a workflow that sets a new benchmark for live virtual production. Working closely with Fox, Silver Spoon crafted the look of these digital stars, translating initial sketches into fully functional and real-time ready 3D avatars, each with a wardrobe of unique costumes, while lulu also handled the real-time AR compositing, virtual lighting and triggering character FX and transitions on stage.

Part of the process included developing innovative special effects such as the ability to cry, blush, and sweat in real-time. To bring these avatars to life, Silver Spoon set up a full motion capture volume on set, matching the size of the physical stage on which the AR avatars would appear. Each performer’s body and face were captured in precise detail and translated, in real-time via lulu’s AR compositing tools, to their digital alter ego performing on stage. From start to finish, the production pushed an unprecedented and greatly accelerated timeline, building 22 avatars and recording over 65 avatar performances in just a matter of weeks, rather than months. 

Laura Herzing, Executive Producer at Silver Spoon, said, “The technology and creative process behind Alter Ego are unique and ground-breaking. From the performance capture and Unreal integration to live compositing and real-time controls, every step builds upon the last. The success of this novel real-time pipeline is a testament to the capabilities of everyone involved. As a result, we expect the concept of virtual avatars and performances to continue growing as an established form of live entertainment.”

Dirk Sanders, Director for lulu, said, “lulu was thrilled to work with Fox Alternative Television, Silver Spoon and the entire creative team on Alter Ego to create a new angle on the reality competition genre. The compressed production cycle required new thinking in order to achieve the five+ performances per episode across the mocap and composing workflows. We’re excited to keep pushing the envelope on what’s possible in live broadcast performances powered by technology.”

About Silver Spoon

Silver Spoon excels at real-time virtual production. They work nimbly across industries from film, broadcast, and gaming to television, commercials and music video production. Their mission is simple, constantly innovate to expand the boundaries of real-time production.

About lulu

lulu _ar sits at the intersection of mind-bending art+tech creating tools for the future of storytelling. Working across broadcast, live television and spectacle projects, lulu provides design and real-time multicamera production integration using our show-proven next-gen technology.

Sean Earley is the podcast host and Executive Editor of AR/VR Magazine, Modern Musician Magazine & co-founder of RobotSpaceship Podcast Network. He is the Director of New Biz Development, PR and Publishing at KEMWEB, a musician, producer & consultant. He loves guitars, VR and coffee.