Mill Scout AR app brings visualisation to set

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Directors and visual effects supervisors have long lacked the tools to visualise CGI characters and objects on set. The Mill’s new augmented reality app, Mill Scout, aims to change that

Quick read

➨ The studio, based in the UK, US and India, launched Mill Scout, an augmented reality app for smartphones and tablets, to help directors and visual effects supervisors visualise CGI characters and objects live on-set
➨ The app runs on iPhone and iPad, as well as Android devices. Assets developed using any 3D software can be uploaded into the app, which was built using Unity and Apple’s ARKit
➨ The Mill is considering user feedback and has several new features in the pipeline, including multi-user viewing, remote asset updates and exporting camera tracking data

The story

Creative production studio The Mill is using augmented reality technology to support directors and visual effects supervisors when working with computer-generated imagery (CGI).

The studio, based in the UK, US and India, launched Mill Scout, an augmented reality app for smartphones and tablets, to help directors and visual effects supervisors visualise CGI characters and objects live on-set.

The app runs on iPhone and iPad, as well as Android devices. Assets developed using any 3D software can be uploaded into the app, which was built using Unity and Apple’s ARKit.

The app, which has already successfully been used for brands such as Lexus, Honda and PlayStation, overcomes a common visualisation issue in the production process, according to The Mill.

Up until now, there has been no way for directors and visual effects supervisors to visualise where CGI objects would be on-set, apart from using a placeholder.

This means additional adjustments to a shot would be needed in post-production to better align it and integrate it with the CGI object, which is a time-consuming process.

Mill Scout overcomes this visualisation problem by allowing users to visualise and record virtual objects at correct scale in the real world.

Objects can be anything from static objects such as vehicles, animated characters, or even full virtual environments.

Through Mill Scout, they are rendered with proper depth, leveraging sensors on the new iPad Pro to allow virtual objects to be rendered realistically.

Within the app, users can change lenses, adjust the aspect ratio and better frame the final shots for capture by considering the CG object placement.

The Mill is considering user feedback and has several new features in the pipeline, including multi-user viewing, remote asset updates and exporting camera tracking data.

Mill Scout isn’t The Mill’s first virtual production tool. The studio addressed a need for fast and intelligent characters with the release of Mill Mascot.

Mill Mascot combines real-time game engine technology with motion sensors to enable characters to be puppeteered through hand and facial gestures.

This gives directors, creatives and artists the ability to ‘direct’ or ‘perform’ CG character animation live and make creative decisions on the fly.

Mill Mascot bypasses the lengthy timelines involved with traditional animation and pre-rendered content, reducing animation and rendering time down to 42 milliseconds per frame, according to The Mill.

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