Omen by HP turned heads at Anime Expo 2023 with a booth that transported attendees into another world. Located inside the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, the booth was all about curating a vibrant, anime-themed lifestyle for laptop and desktop users, including photo ops in front of a giant bowl of cartoon ramen noodles, a Japanese-inspired garden, and a massive XR stage with virtual backgrounds. The experience and booth were designed by Infinity Marketing Team (IMT), who tapped Xite Labs for their expertise in virtual production and XR stage builds. Attendees received a RFID wristband at the start of the experience to carry their data through different immersive rooms. Throughout the journey, guests made choices that reflected their personality by tapping on colored squares and interacting with various scenic elements. The bright and vibrant set decor drew in crowds of people to wait in line for the unique activation.
Check out the digital takeaway experience @TikTok #SpiritOfFun
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XR STAGE EXPERIENCE
After arriving at the XR stage, attendees could scan their RFID wristband to choose from 3 different anime-inspired worlds and record their own video as they were immersed in the virtual environment surrounding them. When they stepped onto the stage, a countdown began and they prepared to act out their scene for the 5-second recording. Upon exiting, they again scanned their wristbands and the Omen laptops revealed their “spirit of fun,” which could be Magic, Play, or Adventure. They also received their own video from the XR stage and were able to customize it with more anime-themed visuals. The choose-your-own-adventure style journey was a hit, attracting over 2,000 visitors and generating countless smiles.
Xite Labs provided support during creative development, consulting on workflows and creating guidelines that would allow 2D artwork from anime artists to be used in a 3D-like manner within Unreal Engine and Disguise. The approach consisted of treating layers of artwork as planes in 3D space, which are then placed and scaled to create depth in the scene and exhibit parallax during camera movement. The resulting 2.5D workflow strikes a balance between traditional 2D artwork and the immersive feel of 3D environments. Each scene used for Anime Expo consisted of numerous layers acting as either front plate, backplate, or the floor (ground). In addition, animated layers such as the waterfalls were added by Xite, adding even more life to the vibrant scenes.
The XR stage was designed and build by Xite Labs using LED product from Absen and processing provided by Brompton. The specifications of the build were highly dependent on the physical space available in the booth design, as well as fire code regulations in place at the venue. Furthermore, the custom-sized wall needed to be built and deconstructed twice; once for development and testing, and once for the actual show. For camera tracking, Xite used Stype’s RedSpy tracking system mounted to a Blackmagic Design Ursa 4.6K camera and pointed at an array of truss-mounted panels speckled with reflective tracking markers. Unreal Engine and Disguise systems were used in tandem for rendering and playback, and allowed the team to achieve a real-time 2.5D virtual environment created from 2D artwork. Except for a brand ambassador guiding visitors, the entire stage experience was automated using a combination of TouchDesigner and Bitfocus, with a pipeline to Infinity’s own custom-coded backend for receiving and queueing files based on a visitor’s unique RFID wristband. Convention center floors are uncontrolled environments for virtual production, posing issues such as light contamination and uneven floors. Despite these challenges, Xite Labs employed meticulous techniques to ensure alignment and color calibration were as accurate as possible.
RESULTS AND IMPACT
Anime Expo 2023 was a massive event that saw over 160,000 unique attendees. The Omen booth was certainly a highlight for many, attracting thousands of visitors and immersing them in the world of anime with an interactive journey. Cosplayers, families, groups of friends, influencers and even a few service dogs joined in on the fun. There were over 500 stage recordings a day, and many visitors shared their takeaways on social media soon after with the hashtag #SpiritofFun as part of a contest to win Omen gear. #SpiritofFun TikToks alone garnered over 3 million views.
We’d like to thank Infinity Marketing for having us be a part of this amazing project, and with the help of our incredible tech partners, Xite Labs was able to push the boundaries of what’s possible with virtual production in a public space, providing a captivating and dynamic experience to Omen that no other booth could offer.
XR Creative Director – Greg Russell
XR Producer – Steve Geer
XR Technical Director – Jeremy Vannix
XR Unreal / Disguise Lead – Diego Castro
DIT – Pierce Cook
Camera Operator – Karis West
Production Assistant – Luke Fisher
Stype Technician – Ivica Finzir
Absen LED Ace Technician – Jose Floran
LED Technician #1 – Manny Castro
LED Technician #2 – Jonathan Castro