“Uniting the digital and physical world” – Stage Precision and Neutral Human join forces

TPi speaks with Stage Precision Managing Director, Michael Giegerich, and Technical Business Development Strategist, Sarah Cox of Neutral Human, about how Stage Precision is allowing people to achieve more when handling complex data in a production or installation.

Innovative tracking software, Stage Precision (SP), and technical business development specialist, Neutral Human, recently announced their strategic partnership alongside the launch of Stage Precision to the wider market. SP keeps track of all position and control data around live events, broadcast, XR, VP, and installation projects, connecting devices between the digital and physical world through a unified 3D space. Stage Precision Managing Director, Michael Giegerich, and Technical Business Development Strategist, Sarah Cox tell TPi more…

How did Stage Precision (SP) become established as a company in its own right?

Michael: “In 2017, while still working as a creative studio, we were transitioning our pipelines from rendered content to real-time content, and with the evolution of positional data we knew there was an untouched market with a lot of potential. The pandemic allowed us to not only further refine SP, it also allowed us to focus on the features necessary for virtual production. We now have the right workflows and plugins in place for this very specific market.”

What can the tool do for the industry today?

Michael: “Essentially, it’s a user interface that solves problems within interactive media and broadcast virtual production. It keeps track of all the position and control data around live events, broadcast, XR, VP, and installation projects, connecting devices between the digital and physical world through a unified 3D space. We aim to simplify complex workflows through control and visualisation tools, from personal object tracking to interactive projections. Basically, anything that would normally involve a high level of custom coding to achieve.”

Who are the target end users for the product?

Michael: “SP is a useful tool across a number of verticals. In the world of live events, it can help realise performer and object tracking workflows, connecting any industry standard tracking system to devices such as lighting desks, real-time-engines, or media-servers. It is also very useful in broadcast, XR, and VR applications, uniting multiple tracking systems in one unified 3D space, which allows technicians to manage screen positions for matte creation or record tracking data. SP interacts with real-time engines to give creative control of virtual environments, using its LiveLink integration and self-developed Unreal Engine plugin Shield to get direct control of Unreal Engine setups.

“For those working on interactive projects, SP facilitates the easy use of common interactive technologies like sensors, encoders, depth cameras, multi-touch drivers or LiDAR scanners, without the need to use any code language.

“As well as all of these live applications, SP can also serve as the digital heart of complex fixed installations. It can remotely control and monitor all devices on site, send service messages, integrate with database solutions, and interact with building management systems, as well as allowing users to read out and control stage kinetic systems, realise performer-tracking, build powerful logics workflows for show control scenarios and visualise all system components in an intuitive 3D viewport.

“A number of high-profile installations and events have already made good use of SP’s unique toolkit, including the Opening and Closing ceremony of the EXPO in Dubai, various XR and VP stages around the globe like the XR Stage at Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, as well as last year’s Eurovision Song Contest.”

From render to reality: Eurovision Song Contest 2022 harnesses Stage Precision. Photo: Nathan Reinds.

What sets Stage Precision apart in the current marketplace?

Michael: “Despite it being relatively new to the market, SP has already become known among pioneering technologists as a reputable tool. It was borne out of a creative studio and designed by people who understand the 360-degree environment of technical production from working at the coalface.”

Sarah: “The industry’s creative technologists have adopted SP as part of their trusted workflows. It has enabled the high end projects to develop with pioneering complexity, so it’s now time for the wider industry to discover such this ground-breaking tool. What drew me to working with SP is the fact that the product is community-led. Its development comes from working alongside its user base on real world challenges and finding solutions to those problems.”

What are some of SP’s key features?

Michael: “As well as the visualising 3D Viewport, another fundamental component of the software is the Stage Precision ‘Board’. As the main canvas software interface, it supports the fundamental elements of the tool. Hosting the node system, the board provides visual scripting that is used to manipulate, adjust, and link data, as well as logical dependencies within the platform. The Board provides the user the capabilities to build their own intuitive control interfaces that give powerful visual feedback for control and monitoring information.

“Key features include Timeline with Key-Frame Animation, Realtime Engine Integration, Unity and Unreal Engine, industry standard protocol I/O, device control – such as media servers, lighting desks, cameras, person- and object-tracking workflows, pre-visualisation, data playback and recording, calibration tool for lenses, world alignment and timing, kinetic winch control, 3D pixel mapping and a specially developed Unreal Engine VP plugin called ‘Shield’.”

Stage Precision joins forces with Neutral Human

How did the collaboration to further develop SP with Sarah Cox of Neutral Human come about?

Michael: “I saw on Instagram that Sarah was starting a new business development company and called her about two minutes after. I couldn’t think of a better person to help us take the next step into the wider market. She’s so well connected and has such a deep understanding of the industry and what it needs in terms of new technology.”

Sarah: “I was super excited when Michael called, because I’m very aware of how interconnected the world of events is with other markets like corporate education or immersive media. So far, the big missing part has been the data and how to handle it in the digital and physical worlds. We hope that people will soon become aware that SP is a very practical tool that can make all these new technologies easier to apply to real world productions, leaving creatives and technicians to focus on what they do best; creating spectacular experiences.”

What are your plans for developing the tool in the future?

Michael: “If positional data is the solid foundation of everything that we are going to be doing in the next few years – especially in virtual production, interactive installations and advanced media systems – we must understand everything about possible data that is being generated and which is all connected for the people that work on these kinds of interactive installations. We’re motivated by the thought of developing workflows and ideas together with these people, usually while chatting with our community – even late into the night and as a part of productions with tight schedules and high expectations.”

Sarah: “With the people and product knowledge SP has, it is well-placed to become the go-to open platform for data and connectivity in this industry. There’s no other software that will help you to interconnect everything in your technology stack so effectively. For me, that’s an exciting journey to be a part of.”