Software Development
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Meet Avatar Dimension, Microsoft’s Ashburn-based mixed reality studio 

With volumetric capture and holographic technology, the studio is working with clients across entertainment and business. Leaders see training as the future.

The volumetric capture technology inside Avatar Dimension's Arlington studio. (Courtesy photo)
Correction: Avatar Dimension is based in Ashburn, Virginia, not Arlington. (10:46 a.m., 7/23/21)

The D.C. 3D and mixed reality community recently received a big boost with the selection of Ashburn, Virginia-based Avatar Dimension as Microsoft’s designated mixed reality capture studio on the East Coast.

The company behind the studio was founded through a partnership of three established firms: creative agency Avatar Studios, immersive computing pioneer Dimension Studio, and Sabey Data Centers, said Dennis Bracy, the company’s CEO.

Avatar Dimension will offer volumetric capture, holographic and mixed reality production services to such sectors as training, government, and entertainment. Through this work, it will provide mixed reality headsets, 5G platforms, digital humans, AI, and computer displays, said Bracy.

Avatar Dimension entered the field from the film and video business and transitioned from the 2D world to 3D content creation and production, which Bracy called “the next media wave.”

“The traditional video business has been hampered,” he said, by its commoditization.“Anyone with an iPhone and software can create videos now.”

Avatar Dimension sought to build on the experience of Dimension Studio, Microsoft’s first volumetric capture studio. Seeing opportunities in 3D, it reached out to the storied Seattle-based tech company.

“We felt Microsoft had the best technology in volumetric capture, and decided to work with them,” he said. “We passed their rigorous tests, and were named their exclusive studio for Washington, DC. But we’ll be serving the entire East Coast, not just DC. We believe training will be one of the biggest applications for our studio. It’s notable that the Pentagon and the US government are investing billions in this technology.”

Dennis Bracy. (Courtesy photo)

Bracy notes that the company has invested “millions” of dollars into the facility, which is located inside a data center with full climate control and backup power. It has capabilities for 4K resolution at 60 frames per second and 70 12-megapixel cameras, which are IO Industries’ Volucam cameras.

“The photorealism offered by mixed reality and holography offers a dramatic improvement in picture quality over the status quo,” he said. For example, he said, “The company has been speaking with a firm in the law enforcement area interested in the technologies we’re using, as they really need the level of visual realism holography and mixed reality offer to observe closely crime scenes and criminals from different angles.”

It is taking on a range of work, from using 3D imagery to help Verizon highlight 5G technology to work for a company investing in NFTs to a virtual tour of the St. Louis Center of Creative Arts that uses holographic guides. It also worked with the U.S. Air Force.

The company has many entertainment clients. For example, the company helped to insert music video for characters in a movie shot in Paris, said Bracy, adding that it also “worked with Dimension Studio to support their work for Sky Sports involving capturing images of golf players in the British Open, which allowed the players to observe every aspect of their swing and allowed producers of the golf programs to edit pieces on the players more easily.”

a golfer swings

Avatar Dimension helped golfers analyze their swings. (Courtesy photo)

Avatar Dimension learned first hand the value of mixed reality in the course of doing projects during the pandemic. The company used the Hololens for meetings and collaboration between production personnel across disparate locations such as Florida, California, Toronto, and London. This offered a way for teams to interact more efficiently and quickly.

“We used Hololens out of necessity and found what a great tool it is,” he said.

Companies: Microsoft

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