The Silicon Review
“Starting with disguise xR’s first memorable realisation in Katy Perry’s performance of ‘Daisies’ in the 2020 American Idol finale, disguise xR has since been used to realise over 400 productions worldwide.”
disguise is an industry-leading platform for creative and technical professionals to imagine, create and deliver the world’s most spectacular visual experiences. It has a 20-year history as a solution for live events. Born in 2000 out of pioneering new technology, the company was first developed to deliver show-stopping visuals at concerts for the likes of Massive Attack and U2.
disguise has continued to help its users deliver amazing experiences in concert tours for Guns N' Roses, Beyoncé, and BTS as well as theatre shows such as Frozen, Back to the Future, and Dear Evan Hansen.
disguise is based in London, England.
Head to Head with Ed Plowman, CTO of disguise
Q. What is disguise known for? And how does the company’s software and hardware solution help production houses deliver seamless live and virtual experiences?
Our software-on-hardware solution creates a powerful, collaborative environment where artists and technologists can take control of their production, from concept development through to showtime, and bring their shared vision to life.
Our Designer software has been trusted by users for over two decades to visualise, design, and sequence video content for projects across live entertainment, broadcast, fixed installations, and, more recently, virtual production. Users can rely on Designer to win pitches, develop storyboards, create camera fly-throughs, validate content, test their technical setups, and design entire shows.
Coupled with this, our powerful media server range offers leading graphics processing, content rendering, and content compositing capabilities for these projects. This allows our users to put the content they develop in Designer to action. They can render content at unlimited scale and complexity and compose it seamlessly with disguise hardware’s superior networking capabilities to ensure the highest level of frame accuracy. This content can be anything imaginable, including real-time graphics developed in Unreal Engine for virtual sets, video playback content played at unlimited scale in live shows, projection-mapped installations, or even content that can move and respond to the world around it.
Q. What can you tell us about your award-winning Extended Reality workflow? And does it enable the company to stay at the forefront?
Have you ever read a book or watched a TV show and wondered what it was like to be completely immersed in that environment as if it were real? disguise’s Extended Reality solution (disguise xR) is making this not only possible but easily achievable.
Extended reality is the overarching label given to technology that blurs the line between physical and virtual worlds. It encapsulates similar terms such as mixed reality and augmented reality. It’s essentially photorealistic images generated by powerful graphics engines that are projected onto LED screens. In film and TV production, this immersive content can be rendered from the camera’s perspective. Meaning, what we see on screen is a fully immersive, 3D scene extending far beyond the LED walls in the physical space. Actors can be performing on a small-scale LED stage, yet xR can turn it into an expansive desert scene or even the ocean rendered from the camera’s perspective, stretching out far beyond the walls of the set. And it's not just the viewers at home that see this environment, it is visible on-set for the entire production crew and performers too.
This technology goes further than green screens, rendering more compelling content in real-time. Many industries are already seeing the impact. For example, filmmakers no longer need to shoot scenes and add graphics in post-production. It can be done before and during shooting, allowing actors to see and interact with the graphics in real-time and directors and DPs to make better-informed creative decisions earlier in the process. This gives them more control of their production.
What makes our solution stand out is that it seamlessly orchestrates LED environments together with camera tracking software and real-time graphics for any application. It also delivers improved spatial and colour calibration of the LED volume. Our real-time content cluster rendering capabilities allow creative and technical teams to deliver productions without compromise.
Pushed by growing demand for this technology, disguise xR is fast becoming a worldwide phenomenon. In the past 18 months alone, 300+ xR stages have been established in over 40 countries, all powered by disguise xR.
Q. Could you list the projects disguise has completed successfully in every category?
disguise’s roots are grounded in our twenty years’ experience empowering amazing visual content in live events for the likes of Massive Attack and U2, yet our technologies’ capability for projection mapping has also been used to light up many large surfaces with unique video content like the lighting up of the Burj Khalifa, the projection mapping in the Al Wasl Dome in Dubai’s 2020 Expo, and the projected video game display on the Club Tower of the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas (which holds the Guinness World Record of the largest projected video game display ever made). disguise has also been used to deliver breathtaking 4K video content for venues known as Illuminariums — with the first opening up in Atlanta this year.
We’ve, most notably, in the past three years, developed our award-winning extended reality workflow - disguise xR. Starting with disguise xR’s first memorable realisation in Katy Perry’s performance of ‘Daisies’ in the 2020 American Idol finale, disguise xR has since been used to realise over 400 productions, including several major broadcasts such as various coverage of the 2020 Olympic Games, the 2020 MTV VMAs as well as ITV Sport’s coverage of the 2020 UEFA Euro Championships. It has been used in virtual concert livestreams such as the Billie Eilish: Where Do We Go livestream, Dubfire’s livestream from the Met Cloisters as well as Bryson Tiller’s ‘Trapsoul World Series’ immersive livestream.
disguise xR’s capabilities extend beyond the entertainment industry. Our platform has been used by brands such as Volvo, Walmart, SAP, Nissan, and Maserati to create exciting launch events, ad campaigns, and virtual meetings.
More recently, xR is being used by brands to enter a phenomenon known as “the metaverse” which has been tipped to be the “new internet”. disguise xR was, together with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, used to create a hybrid concert in the game Fortnite starring American DJ Kaskade. People could experience the concert both live and inside the game, unlocking a whole new universe for amazing experiences.
Q. Where does disguise stand at the moment relative to other participants in the industry?
disguise is an industry-leading platform. Our value, compared to other solutions, is our technologies’ robust and scalable nature, allowing users to have confidence in disguise technology no matter the size or complexity of their project. Our 20-years’ experience in live events has meant we develop solutions that take technical difficulties out of the equation. This is ideal for live performances and broadcasts where the margin for error is non-existent.
Our customers echo this. Drew Best, CEO of Immanent creative studio and Visual Content Director for the 20th Anniversary Virtual Honda Civic Tour, says: “Using xR tools [for a live performance] was a step forward for us, and so many people helped us make sure there was a smooth transition into that workflow. We were able to create real-time rendered content that could be adjusted on the fly. disguise has the highest set of standards for this type of production. I can't imagine doing this event without it.”
Q. Is there anything else you want us to highlight that we might have missed?
We’re expanding our presence globally. We have recently made our software available in six new languages including French, German, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, and Simplified Chinese. Followed by brand new disguise locations opening all around the world in New Zealand, China, South Korea, Japan, and more, disguise is fast on our way to becoming a global phenomenon.