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Canon, Inc. and IBM Launch Collaboration in Entertainment and the Arts in Japan

  • Two Companies to Make Video Content Creation More Accessible With Volumetric Video Technology

IBM and Canon, Inc. announced that, starting in July, the two companies will start a new collaboration to make high-quality digital video content creation more accessible with the use of volumetric video technology in entertainment and the arts through a joint go-to-market effort.

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Volumetric video technology leverages cameras and advanced data processing to render 3D images from a virtual space, which allows for video point of views to be generated from any angle within that space to create a more immersive experience for viewers. Canon has used this technology during an international rugby tournament in 2019 and other sports events, and in July 2020, the company opened their Volumetric Video Studio – Kawasaki at its Kawasaki Office.

By combining both companies’ technologies, products and networks, Canon Inc. and IBM will jointly propose a volumetric video solution for the visual and performing arts community, with the goal of exploring new business opportunities to help create and grow new value for audiences. Specifically, Canon will contribute its volumetric video technology, which makes possible nearly simultaneous video capture and generation of high-resolution video. Through this technology, Canon provides a new method for video content production and audiovisual experiences, in addition to passing on valuable cultural traditions, while IBM will leverage its experience in the arts to provide consultation services including strategy planning and execution support to the arts and entertainment businesses to advance their digital transformation. IBM helped build a high-speed infrastructure to enable this volumetric video render by combining the accelerated computing technology of the IBM Power System AC922 server with the high-bandwidth IBM Elastic Storage System, and provided technical support to meet the responsive capability required for real-time description. With this infrastructure, IBM aims to improve the efficiency of digital content creation with volumetric video technology.

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As the first step in the collaboration, the two companies have published a Lady Aoi supervised by the Hoshokai, which trains and performs Noh theater. Noh is a traditional form of Japanese theater created in the 14th century and is the oldest major theater format still performed today. This video deftly expresses images of a spirit which moves between a Noh stage and the inner psychological world depicted by the head of the Hosho Noh Style, Kazufusa Hosho.

“With the integration of the volumetric videos and 3D graphics, I depicted psychological emotions of ‘Rokujounomiyasundokoro’, the main character of Lady Aoi, through her spirit moving between a Noh stage and the inner psychological world, with which I focused on how much it can make a deep impression on viewers, when they watch it,” said the head of the Hosho Noh Style, Kazufusa Hosho. “Thanks to volumetric video technology, I believe I was able to create new worldview which differs from real performance.”

To create this video, Canon scanned and measured an actual Noh stage to create a 3D computer-generated model and CG animations with dynamic backgrounds, captured a Noh performer’s performance at their Volumetric Video Studio – Kawasaki, and generated the video integrating all of these components in one rendering.

With this collaboration, Canon and IBM Japan aim to expand utilization field of volumetric video technology, as well as creating new value in entertainment and the arts.

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