DEFINITION - April 2020 - Web


THE MILL’S CO-FOUNDER JOINS THE VIRTUAL WORLD VIRTUAL EMPLOYMENT Robin Shenfield, co-founder of The Mill, backs Ncam Technology for rapid expansion so much that he joined the company

WORDS JULI AN M ITCHELL I n a perfect-storm moment at the Games Developers Conference in March 2017, Epic Games and The Mill demonstrated how VFX was possible as a cinematic live element. The two companies brought their newest technologies together to produce an impressive demo of live augmented reality in a short film for Chevrolet, called Human Race . The result, also seen live on stage at the event, was a reskinning of The Mill’s specially designed BLACKBIRD mule vehicle – search YouTube for the event. There was also a demo of live re- colouring of Chevrolet’s cars as a consumer customisation tool. But this wasn’t as new as it seems. UK company Ncam Technology had shown a similar demo at NAB the previous year with its camera tracking and depth mapping technology – a similar effect, but wildly different tracking methods. Also at that year’s GDC was co- founder and group CEO of The Mill at the time, Robin Shenfield. This reskinning through the use of the Unreal Engine became a wake-up moment for him. “I went to that keynote at the GDC. I had arrived a couple of days earlier, there were about 30 Epic developers in the room and probably another 50 at their HQ; the demo

was running at about half-speed, but it was fine on the day. To capture all those shadows, reflections and highlights and to superimpose a different vehicle in real time – yes, that was a light-bulb moment.” Little did Shenfield know then that he would leave The Mill in January of this year, and join Ncam as chairman a month later. JOINING BRIEF There’s a lot The Mill has been doing since, with Epic in particular and virtual production in general, like many companies. There’s also a real-time animation product

IMAGES Above right, Robin Shenfield, new chairman of Ncam Technology. Top and right, The Mill’s BLACKBIRD 1

08 DEF I N I T ION | APR I L 2020

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