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Lightcraft Technology Announces the Airtrack 2, a New Compact Stand-Alone Camera Tracking System

The new Airtrack 2 is designed to be a stand-alone camera tracking system that includes a variety of built-in inertial sensors, a machine vision camera, on-board processors, and an integrated GPU able to calculate high precision 6 DOF camera tracking metadata for virtual set and other real time visual effects systems.

Airtrack 2 key features:

  • Stand-alone system, does not need a host computer
  • Integrated CPU, GPU, Wi-Fi, camera, gyroscopes and accelerometers
  • Fits in a compact camera top mount
  • Built-in display and I/O controls
  • Provides live diagnostics for tracking performance
  • Easily extensible with other sensors and algorithms
  • Provides industry standard live 6 degrees of freedom camera metadata output

With the development of the Airtrack 2, Lightcraft is able to offer other virtual set companies the same level of tracking accuracy and performance developed for their Previzion system in a simple stand-alone camera-top package at a reasonable price.

Product Description:

The Airtrack 2 system is composed of a multi-core processing unit, an integrated high capacity GPU, a high resolution machine vision camera, 3-axis high precision gyros and accelerometers, all built into a compact housing designed to fit on any camera with a high definition output. The Airtrack 2 tracking module incorporates a built-in display and operator I/O controls, so all settings can be controlled locally.

Eliot Mack, the founder of Lightcraft, states, “This new technology will provide considerably better tracking accuracy than using standard optical solves or encoded camera supports. Our sensor package can sample position and acceleration data at rates that are hundreds of times faster than you can get from a conventional encoded system.”

Mack continues, “The Airtrack 2 has enough processing power with its internal CPU and GPU combination for advanced sensor fusion algorithms to combine optical sensor, gyro, and accelerometer data on the local system. These calculations provide extremely accurate and stable results suitable for driving real time visual effects systems.”

The system is also designed to simultaneously output streaming camera tracking data directly to other systems such as ORAD, Brainstorm, VizRT, and other custom applications used by various post houses and VFX providers.

Lightcraft Technology now has an installed base of over 60 Previzion systems in use on television and film productions, and 10 years of development effort in building hardware and software for camera tracking and real time VFX. The combination of optical tracking and electronic gyroscopes used in Previzion provides the most flexible tracking available in the television marketplace today.

Eliot states, “Some of our customers are Telenovela producers who do not have the time or budget to use any post production in their shows. They often write an episode the night before, shoot it the next morning, edit the show that afternoon, and go to air that evening. At the same time, they still want to have a high quality program, with key references to story line locations such as video backgrounds visible through windows and doorways. The Holy Grail for VFX productions is to be able to do real time set extensions, and reduce the overhead of elaborate sets or the cost of expensive post production operations.”

Accuracy, Setup and Simplicity of Operation

From Lightcraft's experience gained over the last 10 years, we determined that a synthesis of many different sensor data sources provided a flexibility and accuracy that far exceeded the capacity of any single source of tracking information. The high level of graphics processing available in very small form factor computers now gives us a solid framework for sophisticated image processing independent of a host computer.

In addition, by building a fully integrated system, we can provide the same level of on-set reliability, ease of use, and real time diagnostics that our customers have had for years with the Previzion system into the broadcast environment.

Background Information: About Lightcraft Technology

Lightcraft Technology was founded in 2004 by Eliot Mack. A graduate of MIT, Eliot had previously worked at Walt Disney Imagineering and iRobot. In 2004, Eliot applied robotic techniques to the motion picture industry to create the Previzion virtual studio system. Developed with co-founder and software architect Phil Mass, Previzion is a real time special effects system that provides high precision camera tracking, sophisticated rendering, and VFX quality keying that makes it the ideal solution for use in on-set compositing of virtual backgrounds and CGI characters.

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