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Intel shuts down its AR/VR volumetric capture stage

Intel Studios was operating a 10,000-square-foot stage in Los Angeles.

Intel Studios dome

Intel built a massive green-screen dome with over 100 cameras to record volumetric video for AR and VR experiences.

Photo: Intel Corporation

Intel has pulled the plug on one of its most ambitious AR/VR projects to date: The company quietly shut down Intel Studios, a 10,000-square-foot volumetric capture stage in Los Angeles, last month. The facility had been heralded as the world's largest capture stage of its kind, and was used to record music videos for Reggie Watts and K-pop band NCT 127, among others.

Intel confirmed the closure in a statement sent to Protocol: "We're proud of the impact Intel Studios has made in the industry and its role in growing the immersive entertainment category. Although we are closing Intel Studios due to business conditions, we look forward to where the entertainment industry moves in the future."

The chipmaker opened its Intel Studios facility in early 2018. At the center of the facility was a massive dome-shaped green-screen stage with more than 100 8K cameras, capable of recording the action from all angles. The resulting visual data could be used to create 3D holograms for AR experiences, as well as immersive 3D VR videos.

Intel hasn't been the only company building these kinds of studios, with startups like 8i and big companies like Microsoft also investing in 3D volumetric capture. But while most capture stages have been optimized to record only one person at a time, Intel Studios offered a Hollywood studio-sized stage capable of capturing massive performances. In 2018, the company partnered with Paramount to record a volumetric performance of the musical "Grease" with 20 dancers.

Part of the motivation for Intel to invest in Intel Studios was to produce proof points for a medium that requires massive computing resources, which ultimately could benefit Intel's core business. The Intel Studio space housed a number of Intel servers to crunch the data delivered from its 100-plus cameras via five miles of fiber-optic cables.

However, Intel Studios also had a mandate to become a sustainable business by renting out its recording space to others in Hollywood. That may have been a lot more challenging this year, as most studios struggle with pandemic-related shutdowns and movie theater closures, with few resources left for ambitious AR and VR projects.

In its statement, the company laid out plans to focus on immersive sports video capture instead going forward: "We believe that the future of sports content will be driven by volumetric technology, which enables us to produce all-encompassing experiences across viewing platforms."

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Yes, GameStop is a content moderation issue for Reddit

The same tools that can be used to build mass movements can be used by bad actors to manipulate the masses later on. Consider Reddit warned.

WallStreetBets' behavior may not be illegal. But that doesn't mean it's not a problem for Reddit.

Image: Omar Marques/Getty Images

The Redditors who are driving up the cost of GameStop stock just to pwn the hedge funds that bet on its demise may not be breaking the law. But this show of force by the subreddit r/WallStreetBets still represents a new and uncharted front in the evolution of content moderation on social media platforms.

In a statement to Protocol, a Reddit spokesperson said the company's site-wide policies "prohibit posting illegal content or soliciting or facilitating illegal transactions. We will review and cooperate with valid law enforcement investigations or actions as needed."

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Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.
Protocol | China

More women are joining China's tech elite, but 'Wolf Culture' isn't going away

It turns out getting rid of misogyny in Chinese tech isn't just a numbers game.

Chinese tech companies that claim to value female empowerment may act differently behind closed doors.

Photo: Qilai Shen/Getty Images

A woman we'll call Fan had heard about the men of Alibaba before she joined its high-profile affiliate about three years ago. Some of them were "greasy," she said, to use a Chinese term often describing middle-aged men with poor boundaries. Fan tells Protocol that lewd conversations were omnipresent at team meetings and private events, and even women would feel compelled to crack off-color jokes in front of the men. Some male supervisors treated younger female colleagues like personal assistants.

Within six months, despite the cachet the lucrative job carried, Fan wanted to quit.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a Reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

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