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Stage Precision streamlines tracking data with AJA I/O cards


Managing large volumes of data from different protocols and technology manufacturers has proven to be an unwieldy task and the biggest workflow hurdle for creative and technical companies.

To better manage data in response to production challenges, Stage Precision was born out of a partnership between members of Bright! Studios and creative director and software developer Michael Hantelmann.

Stage Precision software connects the virtual and digital worlds in live-production environments by unifying all the data into a single 3D space. Currently available in beta, Stage Precision allows teams to bring data from all workflow devices into a centralised hub for increased usability and accessibility, with accurate data synchronisation powered by AJA’s line-up of capture cards.

Complex production environments often include multiple data sources for camera, performance or object tracking, encoded in different protocols and stored in disparate locations. To manage this influx of data, Stage Precision software unifies all sources into a single 3D data set that can easily be analysed, controlled and sent out to a media server or real-time game engine, such as Unreal Engine or Unity.

During live productions, the data is recorded to a timeline and instantly available for playback or post-production, where teams can make adjustments and match all content changes to the camera or lens position at the time of the shoot.

To accompany the software, the company produces a Shield plug-in for Unreal Engine that offers users increased control over broadcast AR workflows. The plug-in removes all of the complexities involved with blueprints and facilitates a drag-and-drop workflow in Unreal, providing native access over lenses, calibration and other production variables.

Stage Precision features an extensive input and output connections library that supports all position-control and camera-tracking data for industry-wide protocols and manufacturers, including NCAM, Spidercam, Mo-Sys StarTracker, stYpe, Technocrane and TrackMens. For position-control support, it’s compatible with real-time 3D tracking solutions such as PosiStageNet and BlackTrax, as well as OptiTrack for 3D and 2D tracking. Additionally, blob tracking can be done with arrays of multiple image sources.

Sarah Cox, technical business development strategist at Neutral Human, and a consultant for Stage Precision, says: “Camera tracking is in high demand for AR workflows in the broadcast and live- event space, and we support protocols for industry-leading brands. We also support a wide range of other industry input and output device connections, including audio, sensors and controllers.”

Stage Precision also offers many advantages to AV and broadcast customers. “As our software wrangles data and shares it as a single source of truth to real-time engines, users no longer need to worry about blueprinting,” adds Cox. “We handle input, output and the setup of connection profiles for all the different protocols – a process that traditionally requires scripting and coding. This increases accessibility when working with real-time engines and allows teams to focus more on the creative aspects of production. Our software further helps unify creative and technical pipelines, enabling artists and technologists to work in Unreal Engine to solve different parts of the puzzle and, ultimately, resulting in a smoother production process.”

For pinpoint accuracy, Stage Precision recommends customers use workstations equipped with AJA capture and output cards to synchronise protocol data and drive control devices and real-time engines for frame lock and gen lock.

Cox says: “Locking our system is critical, because it needs to be accurate. AJA cards allow customers to align data points together from different manufacturers and protocols, and shift the data within a frame in less than 0.1 milliseconds. They also receive images for our lens calibration workflows and for reading the embedded timecode.”

Stage Precision supports most AJA I/O cards, but has tested and recommends AJA Corvid 88, Corvid 44, Corvid 24, Corvid LHi, Corvid IP,  KONA 5, KONA 4 and KONA 1. “Our customers lean on us heavily for recommendations when building their own hardware solutions, and we always recommend AJA as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of I/O cards for their accuracy and economical pricing,” adds Cox. “As we’re challenged with managing new protocols and more complex live-event technologies that are coming to market, having the ability to offer our clients the most precise data system with AJA powering the most accurate data synchronisation is key.”