How to eXtend Reality without losing your mind

How does xR work ?

Tom Cruise standing on a box

Like everything in the rich history of in-camera trickery, xR relies on technology.

In xR, we use a camera tracker device mounted on each camera (common options are systems made by MoSys, NCAM, or Stype) that figures out where the camera is and where it’s pointing (its position, angle, and field of view).

We then use a game engine (common options are Notch, Unreal, and Unity) to quickly draw the background scene from that point of view, and then render the resulting image onto the screens on stage. If we get everything…


How to eXtend Reality without losing your mind

Katy Perry’s American Idol performance of ‘Daisies’, made by XR Studios

Executive Summary

xR (sometimes “eXtended Reality” or “virtual production”) uses LED screens to place performers and props in a fluid three-dimensional environment, captured in-camera without the need for costly post-production visual effects.

xR is “hot” right now in live, film, and television production. Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, it seems like everyone and their pet alligator wants to produce and direct an xR show. …


How to eXtend Reality without losing your mind

Katy Perry’s American Idol performance of ‘Daisies’, made by XR Studios

Executive Summary

xR (sometimes “eXtended Reality” or “virtual production”) uses LED screens to place performers and props in a fluid three-dimensional environment, captured in-camera without the need for costly post-production visual effects.

xR is “hot” right now in live, film, and television production. Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, it seems like everyone and their pet alligator wants to produce and direct an xR show. …


I work in the live event industry : clubs, bands, concerts, theater, corporate launches, conferences, trade shows, sports events; anything where large numbers of people come together in the same physical space.

The live industry was one of the first to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and will probably be the longest affected; conservative estimates are at least a year before people feel safe enough to congregate in large groups. That’s a long time to survive without any income. …


Honey I Bought an Oculus

Image copyright Simon Stålenhag, who is a Godlike Genius

It’s been about a week since I brought the Oculus Quest VR headset home with me, so it’s high time to make some grand pronouncements. (If you’ll ignore the fact that everyone else has been on this train since May 2019, I’m pretty cutting edge). I actually bought it to do previz on my long-postponed home improvement project (knocking down walls, that sort of thing) but, as these things do, one rabbit-hole led to another.

The TLDR : you should probably definitely go out and buy one immediately. With a couple of, erm… cautions.

The hardware


I don’t have a clear memory of our first encounter. I don’t recall a moment where our eyes met across a crowded list of downloadable test files and I chose you over the Mandrill, or anything like that.

You’ve just always been there, floating in the middle distance, impassive but encouraging— you can do it, Ash — as I toiled in darkness, endlessly repeating runs of broken code, tweaking and gnawing at it until it did my bidding. …


And some new social conventions

Legend has it that before the invention of the water closet, people (even French Aristocracy, like Marie Antoinette) would just go on the floor, which luckily, even in palaces, just happened to be covered with straw. Hence all those hovercraft skirts and fans and perfumes and all that Dangerous Liaisons stuff.

Marie Antoinette taking a poo with her mates

Then along came Mr Thomas Crapper and the Water Closet Revolution – and a scant few hundred years later, excusing yourself to answer the call, so to speak, is de rigeur.

I have no idea if any of that is true, of course, but…


If we cannot live together, we must live apart

“The animosity of these two factions runs so high that they will neither eat, nor drink, nor speak to each other.” Jonathan Swift, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’

Regardless of the political outcome of the Brexit debacle, the depressing reality is that the people will remain divided. Like Swift’s Tramecksans and Slamecksans, who could not agree on the correct height of a heel, Remainers will continue to be Remainers and Leavers will continue to be Leavers, united only by their mutual loathing. Unless there’s a civil war, that’s how things will most likely stay, at least until this generation of adults dies of old age.

As the cold war between Insularity and Openness drags on, fracturing the polity and destroying the good reputation of a once noble nation…


A Modest Proposal

Browsing reddit, I click on this nice little link :

If there’s one thing the internet knows beyond doubt when I click on this link, it is that my primary intention at this moment in time is to read what The Economist has to say about the corrupting of democracy.

However, this is what I see in my browser :


A Philosophy of Service

A dear friend (we’ll call him Phineas Crispin-Hamilton) who watched us take our first steps in the industry, tells a wonderful rock-n-roll story of a Famous Musician On Tour, who was playing a gig in the Hamptons.

The story became something of a foundational anecdote for disguise, so I hereby beg his forgiveness for passing it on.

The story goes thus : Phineas, wiping breakfast off his whiskers, walks onto the stage the morning before showday to find the Tour Manager has just fired the Stage Manager. …

Ashraf Nehru

I once made the mistake of letting other people use my software; the result was www.disguise.one. Now I’m trying to figure out how to fix what’s really broken.

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