2247303 19

Ready Player Cix: How One Rogue is Revolutionizing Mixed Reality

by Joe Durbin • February 20th, 2017

Several years ago, in a warm Los Angeles court room a young man stood with his hand on a bible. His right hand was raised and his mouth was repeating a solemn oath. Once he was finished speaking, his name would be officially changed. He walked into the court [real name redacted] but would leave freer, fresher and more focused with his brand new identity: Cix Liv.

A few months before that fateful day in court, Liv had his identity stolen. Financial institutions told him in no uncertain terms that he had one of two choices: freeze all of his accounts while they sort out the problems, or get a new identity. This second option was likely more of a joke than anything else, but Liv took it to heart. He decided to use this theft as a chance to reinvent himself, a chance to forge that identity he wanted not the one anyone else had chosen for him. Liv knew exactly where to find this new identity. He had been keeping it for years now in a world separate from our own — World of Warcraft.

Cix the Rogue on the World of Warcraft start screen

Cix the Rogue on the World of Warcraft start screen

Cix was originally the name of a character from the immensely popular MMORPG World of Warcraft. Here was an identity that Liv had been pouring hours of time, intent and skill into for years. Cix was not a random name bestowed by well meaning parents. Nor did it carry a lifetime’s worth of memories and experiences, not all of them wonderful. Cix represented everything Liv wanted from his new persona: freedom, individuality and, most importantly, a personality that would guide his life in the real world going forward.

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-10-18-32-am

Human Cix

As we chat at the Upload offices in San Francisco, Liv explains to me how the rebranding of his life connects to his current work in virtual reality.

Originally from Minnesota, Liv reflects that “I always told my friends one day I would just get in my car, drive to San Francisco and start a company. Three years ago I pulled that trigger.”

Even before he changed his name “LIV was always a brand I was building since my early teens.” Today, the young company currently consists of Liv and his fellow co-founders: Pierre Faure (CTO) and AJ Shewki (CMO). Their team may be small but their goals are anything but. In this gold rush era of relatively cheap and easier to produce VR content, LIV has decided it is going to delve into the vastly more complex and expensive world of VR hardware. Their goal is to create “a full stack, deployable content creation platform consisting of custom hardware and software with one goal: to make Mixed Reality accessible to the masses.”

Mixed Reality is a term still in the process of being fully defined and contextualized. As the immersive industry grows and changes, the definition of MR will likely do the same. Today, MR is most often associated with the complicated process by which real life people can be overlayed into the digital world in order to create powerful visual representation of how a VR experience works.

For example, take a look at this video for Fruit Ninja VR:

It’s not bad by any means and it does what most VR videos do nowadays: shows you a first person perspective and highlights hand interactions as best it can.

Now take a look at this gif of the same game created using Liv’s unique MR platform.

By showing you a real human in action, digital situations can be understood and explained much more easily to those outside. MR is a powerful tool for the demonstration of VR, the problem is it’s very technical, very expensive and very specialized. Only a few studios in the world can pull something like what you saw above. LIV wants to change that. The team has created a simple, repeatable, portable MR studio that can be set up and deployed by just about anyone. It is named Cube.

The LIV Cube MR green screen fully deployed

The LIV Cube MR green screen fully deployed

LIV Cube is a “modular, seamless green screen designed from the ground up to capture studio quality Mixed Reality and experience room-scale Virtual Reality.” It measures 8x8x8 feet with a custom aluminum frame and weighs just 27 pounds. The entire thing can be set up in under an hour.

It takes more than a green screen to make MR run, however, and so joining LIV Cube on the front lines of mass-market MR is LIV Box and LIV Client. LIV Box is a custom-built computer designed by Liv himself. It is described by the company as a “future proofed, custom, hand assembled PC hardware pre-calibrated and configured to run the latest in VR experiences.”

The final piece of the puzzle is LIV Client. This is “software built to remove the incredibly complicated task of calibrating virtual cameras and capturing software to successfully run, record and live stream Mixed Reality.”

It’s not terribly difficult to set up a green screen or find a powerful computer if you know what you’r doing and are willing to commit time, money and patience to the task. What is complicated, often prohibitively so, is making sure MR works flawlessly every time. There is an insane amount of minute calibrations necessary to pull of a proper MR experience and for those without months of experience it’s simply too difficult to even attempt.

LIV Client, therefore, is the most valuable component of the entire LIV platform. With just a few clicks you can record reliable MR video or stream it to a live audience.

liv-client

All together, the LIV system has the potential to revolutionize the way studios and corporations explain and demo their software to the world. Pre-orders for the LIV MR platform are beginning on March 30 and with a goal to begin the shipments in July.

Cix Liv changed his name in an attempt to seize control of his own identity in a world that wanted to define who he was. Now, he sees VR as a place where the rest of the world can do the same.

As he puts it, “in the digital world you choose your own identity and people don’t realize how powerful that is.”

Hopefully, with tech like this, they will soon.

Disclaimer: Cix Liv rents a floating desk at the Upload SF co-working space. His standing as a paying member had no influence on this article’s inception or its content. 

Tagged with: , ,

What's your reaction?
Like
Wow
0%
LOL
0%
Dislike
0%
  • Michael Caputo

    I see that UploadVR’s CEO has a testimonial on the product’s page. Any kind of conflict of interest your readers should be aware of?

    • Joe Durbin

      There’s a disclaimer added at the bottom of the post. Basically Cix rents a desk at our SF co-working space but that had nothing to do with why we wrote the story or what we put in it. A good story is a good story.

      • What are other UPLOAD VR “spotlight” stories that focus on people that work in the Upload VR space? I know I’ve seen others like that one titled something like “These are the 3 Dudes that are changing the 360 video game!” And the article was just a big puff piece about 3 guys who do 360 video and happen to work in Upload VR space. There was nothing groundbreaking about what they were doing, just standard 360 stitching. So just curious if you mind posting which of your articles have been about people who were paying you?

        • Joe Durbin

          I think you’re referring to this story https://uploadvr.com/soap-collective-new-creative which also has the appropriate disclaimer. Any time we write about a company from the Collective we make sure it’s clear. One of the coolest parts about the co-working spaces is getting to meet all of these awesome people that are really passionate and making cool things. That side of the company is 100 percent separate however. The editorial team has its own management and objectives that are kept away from the co-working side of Upload, Inc.

          You seem to be insinuating that this article or the other one linked above were written because someone gave us money. That has never and will never be the case. I wrote those stories because I found the work to be interesting. You may disagree that there’s “nothing groundbreaking” about Soap Collective’s work but I did and others do as well. That story was written to highlight their unique philosophy towards content not to suggest that they’re reinventing anything technical.

    • Will Mason

      Additionally, Upload, inc. Which Taylor is CEO of, is the parent company of UploadVR, which is the publication and operates independently. Cix rents an office from us and we do use his software in our own MR studio and the Cube for activations but we do not have any stake in the Liv’s or Cix’s success.

  • Fakir Alam

    Good knowledge, Keep it up.

  • LIV

    Great article Joe, thanks so much for the shoutout. Really excited for how this technology changes spectating virtual environments.

  • DougP

    Good article – thanks for the write-up & info.
    Exciting to see the potential for *canned* mass-market available mixed-reality production. It’s still one of the best ways to “show” VR (/communicate what it’s like) to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

    Personally, if I had a smaller VR space & was planning the likes of a youtube channel, I’d be interested in this. But I’ve got a larger room-scale setup & am instead going to custom-build route w/painted walls.
    But I can see this approach really taking off for youtube VR-star wannabes.

    • LIV

      Youtube VR-Star Wannabes need views too! 🙂 Interesting to know where the threshold for wannabe moves to star? It’s a tough distinction but hopefully everyone can benefit from this! To make this more accessible it a challenge but we really think regardless of the VR headset the real-time compositing of virtual worlds and physical objects will lead to incredibly interesting content creation.

      • DougP

        Agree completely. Didn’t intend that “wannabe” as a derogatory. Maybe “hopefuls” sounds better. haha 😉
        Not quite sure what qualifies as a *star*, but I suspect it’s fair to consider a *follower* attachment high enough where the financial rewards from content creation nears level supporting full-time work/income.
        But even for those who just enjoy the publishing/online presence – this type of product is a phenomenal way for people to get up-and-running with VR/mixed-reality and other green-screen content production. So those hobbyists without fame or fortune rewards could flock to this.

        Very exciting product. Definitely going to share this article/prod info to some friends w/VR setup.
        Might even entertain it for myself, if I don’t complete my green-screen’ified room in time. My interest, beyond mixed reality & VR gameplay, includes possible special f/x for video production – hence the larger space.

        Looking forward to following where this goes.

        • LIV

          Absolutely! Just know that on your path your own high quality MR studio you will encounter issues with lighting, extremely specific calibration of the virtual/physical camera, tracking issues with the sensors as you move the MR camera, matching the physical world latency to the digital world, the flooring, the green screen edges, the cost, the initial setup, the chroma keying, the foreground layer, cable lengths, white balance, audio balancing between the sources, audio delays, keeping the frames synced at 60FPS, and handling the very large output files…. Anyway, the LIV Platform fixes all that, otherwise I hope you have some time on your hands :P. We will most likely be shipping before July, but didn’t want to set expectations just in case. Agree with you on all your points.

  • InfiniteGravity

    Great story, truly mixed reality.

  • Matthew Grenier

    Dang brother , you crushed that fruit ! I bet you have a mean back hand !XOXO

    • LIV

      He is a rogue :).

  • Lucidfer

    The LIV Cube is a starting point, but an amazing idea. I mean green-screen/lights/camera and their software mixes it flawlessly, live. This solution will get simpler and simpler.

    • LIV

      Perhaps I am confused, we have all the calibration pre-defined in the software/hardware stack so no calibration is needed. Once it’s physically setup you can “Go Live” “Go LIV” 😛 right away assuming you have a decent enough internet connection.

      • Lucidfer

        That’s amazing. But I wish for an environment agnostic LIV, not just because not anybody as the real-estate or green-screen frames/camera/lights, but because when anybody with any camera is able to use that, it means you achieved mainstream MR tech for everybody! Meanwhile this looks great!

        • LIV

          Yea I agree! So initially we went down the route of trying to use depth sensing, because in theory you would be able to remove the background and just have the person in the space without a green-screen. While this sounds great in theory it simply doesn’t work right now. Even the best depth sensing barely remove a background without someone moving, for rapid moving experiences or even moderate movement the render of the person starts to look more like a ghost then a person. Depth sensing without a green-screen is a long ways from looking good, no matter how much other companies pretend they will figure it out. If Microsoft with the Kinect cannot do it with millions and years in R&D cannot do it, well a startup sure can’t. That is not even mentioning how high end depth sensors use IR which conflict with the head-tracking of the VR headset.

          • Lucidfer

            But isn’t LIV overlaying a video feed (rather than a 3D reconstruction) of a user on VR like a chroma-key? I know green-screen is still the best way to capture, but I’m sure there are research publication as demonstrated during Siggraph showcasing chromaless moving object, of course how much precision or noise there is has to be assed but you probably know of those;)