Friday, March 31, 2023

7thSense Performer Range takes the stage

by Wendy Grant

7thSense, a creative technology company that develops products to meet media-based needs in the theme park, attractions, and entertainment industries, will launch their new Performer Range of technologies at ISE (Integrated Systems Europe) 2023. The new software and hardware power a workflow that takes pixels from any external source and presents them just as the storyteller or the creative team intended. The Performer Range boasts new capabilities for the 7thSense suite of technologies: now multiple people can simultaneously program a show, storytellers can incorporate the use of generative media engines, and locations can take advantage of new virtual production technology.

“The big draw for out-of-home entertainment is that it has to be something you can’t experience at home,” says Jack Dowd, 7thSense’s Senior Product Manager. “So, if it’s interactive, it has to be more interactive than the latest and greatest smartphone. If it’s a big screen, it has to be a gigantic screen or projection mapping. With the Performer Series, we’re simplifying pixel management for all of these interactive stories being told on unusual canvases.”

Meet the Players in the Performer Range

The Performer Range includes Compere®, Actor®, Conjurer®, Juggler®, and R-Series 10. Dowd describes the new product ecosystem in terms of a show. “Compere is the software that acts as the master of ceremonies, programming all of the other products,” he says. Compere crafts an entire show and then assigns hardware to the different roles that are needed to perform that show.

Actor is the next generation 7thSense media server that plays back frames the same way, every time, just like an actor who delivers their lines perfectly in each performance. Conjurer works with game engines and brings in outside generative media, such as gaming avatars or photos captured in the queue line, to dynamically create the show that gets displayed in an attraction. Dowd notes, “With Conjurer, show creators can treat generative media the same way as playback media and build a show from it.”

Juggler is a processor that handles pixels, whether they come from playback media, live cameras, or generative media. Dowd explains, “Juggler assembles the canvas and determines where the pixels are displayed on that canvas.”

“The ring where all the performers come together is R-Series 10,” Dowd concludes. That’s the hardware platform that runs Actor and Conjurer. R-Series 10 is designed to meet the needs of demanding generative projects, virtual production applications, and complex media-based attractions. Unlike previous 7thSense products, R-Series 10 is available from 7thSense as a standalone hardware product. Customers can load their own software onto it, or it can be configured with one, several, or all of the Performer Range products.

Capabilities Designed for Client Ease

7thSense favors uncompressed media, so it’s no surprise that the Performer Range embraces the latest video streaming standard, SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) ST 2110, which is an uncompressed video-over-the-network protocol. But if a client prefers to use NDI, or Network Device Interface, the Performer Range also works well with that—as well as traditional video interfaces 7thSense products have always supported. In fact, NDI technology is incorporated into one handy new feature the 7thSense hardware provides: a live front-panel display that shows what’s playing. So, on a massive screen, if one portion of the overall image doesn’t look right, it’s easy to see which server in a rack of 10 is the one playing that problematic image. “Since you can quickly identify which server is playing what, it’s fast and easy for a tech team to identify the correct server and address the issue,” John Higgins, Director of Product Development for 7thSense, points out.

The Performer Range is also compatible with generative media engines like Unreal Engine®, Unity®, TouchDesigner®, and Notch®. Whichever tool a customer prefers to use, the Performer Range can accommodate it.

The R-Series is indeed a series. The R-Series 10 is the flagship, and there will be more products to come. Because the products can now integrate generative media, 7thSense is looking forward to doing further work in the realms of virtual production, sporting events, location-based entertainment, and esports, all to meet customers’ increased expectation of interactivity.

7thSense is still supporting their renowned Delta Media Server, notes Higgins. “Delta is still a really good product, and we are retaining Delta and remain committed to supporting it. It’s an extremely powerful media server that has the recently added ability to play back the NotchLC video format,” he says.

Dowd notes, “Depending on your project, Delta might be the right choice. Or Actor might be the right choice. Actor is built on a brand-new render engine, which allows for improved workflows and more harmonized programming. It also has an all-new timing engine, which has been designed to be more flexible and robust for the future. We’ll make sure you have the right server for your needs, and we’ll customize Delta or Actor to your project.”

Customized Technology for Creative Storytellers

7thSense is known for creating bespoke solutions for media needs. “A creative team has a story they want to tell. When they haven’t figured out how to tell it in a particular venue, that’s where we come in,” says Higgins.

“We’re bespoke, but that doesn’t mean we’re guessing,” adds Dowd. “We don’t say, ‘We think we can do it.’ We know we can do it. We’re constantly listening and responding to our clients’ needs. And we aim to exceed our customers’ expectations.”

Dowd explains, “We develop our tools around a general-use case, but customize them to the needs of our clients. If you need five outputs, we’ll provide a five-output server. We don’t sell more pixels or more bandwidth than what is needed. In the same way that you can buy a suit off the rack that fits, but then have it tailored to fit you perfectly, 7thSense’s products offer baseline functionality that then is tailored for each client’s individual needs and particular uses.”

“If you need media that will be shown in a theme park, running 16 hours a day, 365 days a year, being run by a non-technical operator—our products can handle that,” adds Higgins.

7thSense installations at Expo 2020 Dubai. Courtesy 7thSense.
Courtesy 7thSense.

7thSense and Medialon products are in use in exciting visitor experiences in thousands of venues worldwide. The ‘‘Three Fights with Baigujing” flying dark ride at Huai’an Xiyou World in China opened in 2021 and is powered by 7thSense media servers and uses a total of 30 Christie laser projectors throughout the experience. For Expo 2020 Dubai, 7thSense supplied 56 media servers and 17 Medialon show control systems. 7thSense products can also be found at Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi, the world’s first ever Warner Bros.-branded indoor theme park and the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run ride at Disneyland in California. Dubai’s Museum of the Future and the soon-to-open MSG Sphere are also 7thSense clients. Others cannot be listed due to confidentiality agreements.

Doubling Staff to Serve Clients

7thSense prides themselves not just on their products but also the service they provide for their clients. “We’re very well known for our service team,” Higgins continues. “Our people can go on site and troubleshoot a challenging project, and those are the same people you can call up and ask questions of anytime.”

Theme parks and attractions can even bring 7thSense technicians on-site to help create a new show. For locations that have Medialon or 7thSense products in place and want to use them to develop a new visitor experience, 7thSense technicians can come on site, train the creative team, make changes to the system if needed, and even work as a very highly trained machine operator or commissioning engineer.

Higgins explains, “Our technicians can work through the storyline with the team when they’re doing that final media creation work. We can be there with you, and that can make the show-creation process much easier. We’ve built a business around that hands-on touch. We’re still there, standing alongside our clients, supporting them, years after their purchase.” 7thSense products offer a two-year warranty that is extendable to five years.

He emphasizes that 7thSense is focused on training. “We’ve got new products, and we will be offering online and in-person training,” he says.

In order to continue to meet customers’ needs, Higgins says, “We’re growing our service and support teams as we grow our products.” In fact, over the last two years, 7thSense has doubled its staff to support its growing customer base. They’re continuing to hire.

7thSense is also expanding production into the United States. Previously, production was based in the United Kingdom. “Now, as we grow, we can share that workload with our North American operation,” says Higgins.

See the Performer Range In Person

The 7thSense team looks forward to demonstrating the R-Series 10 and revealing all of the other Performer Range products at ISE 2023. Find 7thSense at booth 5E250. After that, the next opportunity to experience the Performer Range will be at INFOCOMM 2023.

Or if you’ve got an idea for a visitor experience, reach out to 7thSense anytime. “We are a bunch of engineers who really enjoy discussing projects and making them come to life,” says Higgins. “We’re here to help the storytellers tell their stories.”

Shanxi Shangluo Danhe Building mapping show. Image copyright Wincomn Technology.

Wendy Grant
Wendy Grant
Wendy M. Grant has worked in marketing for more than 25 years. She served as Director of Marketing and Communications for San Diego’s Fleet Science Center, home to the world’s first IMAX Dome Theater, where she directed marketing for all exhibitions, films, shows and events for 13 years. She served on the Marketing Committee for the Giant Screen Cinema Association and she was a board member for the Giant Dome Theater Consortium. Prior to working in the museum field, she was Director of Marketing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar where she helped to produce the annual Miramar Air Show. Since 2019, Grant has worked as a communications consultant, writer and editor, with clients in the education and entertainment fields.

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