Vizrt Conquers Social Distancing Limitations on Up-Close Interviews

(Image credit: Vizrt)

BERGEN, Norway—Vizrt may have an answer for journalists looking to do up-close-and-personal interviews in the era of social distancing: “teleportation.”

No, not the Star Trek kind, nor even the cutting edge experimental type of quantum physics in which researchers teleport the smallest of subatomic particles great distances. Vizrt’s version is more virtual, relying on IP and the built-in Fusion renderer in its just announced Viz Engine 4.1.

Together, the technologies made it possible for Gerhard Lang, chief technology officer, and Chris Black, head of brand and content, both at Vizrt Group, to carry on a live, one-on-one conversation as if they were in the same room—but they weren’t.

Black was stationed at the company’s headquarters in Bergen, Norway, while Lang was some 1,200 miles away in Vomp, Austria. A virtual set provided a common background for the interview, which was made available on Vizr.TV.

“The ability of Viz Engine 4.1 to key two or more independent streams at the same time while rendering and compositing everything together is the real magic here,” says Lang. “Getting good quality video from Chris’s location with very little latency to the Viz Engine 4.1 in Austria via public internet was crucial for the keying quality and natural dialogues.”

Two Matrox Monarch Edge devices were used to send and receive SRT streams from Norway to Austria. Using Viz Engine 4.1, only two frames of latency for audio and video, in and out, in both SDI and IP mode are introduced into the stream. 

The low latency provided Black in Norway with the final composition in an IP stream for his reference monitors and for the final live production. Viz Vectar was added for cuts between clips and live, but also to send the live stream to Vimeo, Facebook and LinkedIn. 

“The end goal should always be that the technology is an enabler, not a distraction. So while we can do amazing graphics, it’s more important that we can bring two people together in a nearly seamless way so they can have a natural conversation in real time, despite the distances involved,” says Black.

Vizrt is looking at repeating the feat May 26, only this time tying together locations in the U.S., Norway and Austria. Details are not currently available.

A recording of the interview is available online

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.