Tomorrowland Promises Hollywood-Worthy Production For Digital Festival

Almost real at first glance
– Almost real at first glance
The people behind Tomorrowland promise a virtual festival experience like no other.
Tomorrowland’s upcoming livestream promises an immersive virtual festival landscape featuring 280,000 virtual people and ten times more polygons than a modern computer game.
Dubbed Tomorrowland Around The World,  the event takes place July 25-26 between 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. CEST.
More than 60 artists recorded performances in four large green screen studios, located on the grounds of Tomorrowland in Boom, Belgium. Artists from North and Central America recorded their sets in Los Angeles, CA, Latin American artists went to a studio in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Australian DJs recorded their performance in Sydney, Australia.
The lineup includes, in alphabetical order, Adam Beyer, Amelie Lens, Armin van Buuren, Charlotte de Witte, David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Dixon, Kölsch, Lost Frequencies, Martin Garrix, NERVO, Paul Kalkbrenner, Steve Aoki, Tale of Us, Tiësto, Timmy Trumpet and more. 
Katy Perry has been confirmed to perform some of her greatest hits as well as music from her new album, Smile.
About 300TB of raw video footage were recorded, and “tens of different render engines (render farm) are working 24/7 to process all the data,” according to a post on the Tomorrowland Around The World website, which goes into more detail.
280,000 virtual festival-goers have been programmed for Tomorrowland Around The World
– 280,000 virtual festival-goers have been programmed for Tomorrowland Around The World
The real visitors will also be able to communicate with each other.

The virtual 3D island was created from scratch in collaboration with Dogstudio, a creative studio with offices in Belgium, Chicago and Mexico City. Henry Daubrez, CEO & Creative Director of Dogstudio, said the biggest challenge, besides the technical one, was “making sure festival visitors will be able to feel they are being part of something larger than their computer and their internet connection. People won’t only be immersed in Tomorrowland’s new universe, but they will also be able to communicate with other festival visitors.”

People accessing the stream on will be able to navigate through the virtual festival site (called Papilionem) with a PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet. VR goggles aren’t required.
Said Daubrez: “I can proudly say that we are setting new standards for web-based online music experiences, pushing the boundaries of the latest technology that is available, but on the other hand making sure that the platform is even working on a device that is a couple of years old.”
The video production was realized by a team that’s known for previous work with the Olympic Games, the Super Bowl, international feature films and the game development world.
As it explains in a detailed blog post: “All cycloramas (or infinity-walls) were 6 meters or higher, at least 8 meters wide, and at least 8 meters in depth. A full-sized DJ booth was built in the studio and all locations measured the exact same set-up. 
“A large grid of infrared reflectors was installed on the ceiling to allow tracking devices to measure an exact position of each camera head. All other parameters of the camera and lenses were transmitted live to servers that recorded the data and rendered a low-resolution version of the virtual world for the camera operators and directors.
The (virtual) Core stage
– The (virtual) Core stage

“On top of the six 4K ultra HD cameras, a number of virtual cameras were created per stage, allowing the director to choose up to 38 cameras at the Mainstage. Even for modern 4K outside broadcast trucks, a dual framerate and multiple resolution configuration is challenging, especially with the amount of virtual shots needed to be triggered. 

“Each stage has a different technical set-up: similar to moving the outside broadcast truck from one stage to another, the truck configuration was changed from one stage to another. Along with the technical set-up, the lighting on the artist changed according to the location of stage and the time of the day during the broadcast.”
Tomorrowland has been working with stYpe, which provides camera tracking technology to achieve real-time augmented reality and virtual studio effects in live broadcast.
“Tomorrowland’s digital festival is different from the live broadcast productions we typically do, and from the typical movie productions we do, in the sense that it combines the requirements of both,” Stype Cajic, founder & CEO of stYpe, explained.
“In live broadcast projects, like for example the Olympic Games, there are very high standards for speed, virtual scene optimizations and reliable camera tracking. As the shots are done only once, there’s no luxury of repeating them, since it all has to be live. 
“Movie productions, on the other hand, have requirements for high-resolution and photorealistic virtual effects as seen in blockbusters movies. Tomorrowland Around the World has both of these requirements and this meant we had an interesting technical challenge to solve. 
“The artists were performing their acts once, without repeat takes, and they needed to see in real time the virtual environment they were performing in. This meant that the speed and scene optimizations from live broadcast was required. On the other hand, everything needed to be shot in high resolution and be photorealistic to satisfy the sophisticated taste of festival visitors who will be watching,” Cajic continued.
280,000 virtual festival-goers have been programmed for Tomorrowland Around The World
– 280,000 virtual festival-goers have been programmed for Tomorrowland Around The World
The real visitors will also be able to communicate with each other.

The 3D stages were designed by the actual Tomorrowland stage designers. They are imported before layers of show elements, lights, attributes and environments are added. 

A software called Depence was used for most indoor stages where the show elements are key to the performance. Since the software was not designed to add video of real-life footage, its developers had to get creative.
All technical elements that make up the show are programmed and controlled by the same team that would be present at regular Tomorrowland editions to make for a more realistic appearance. More than 750 virtual lamps per stage will all be drawn by hand.
Other stages are rendered in the game engine Unreal Engine, a standard for virtual film and television sets, “which allows for photorealistic landscaping and scripting of certain elements, according to the blog post. 
“Each outdoor stage has a 16 square kilometer surface with 32,000 trees and plants. The landscapes for each stage have been custom-made to resemble elements of the festival grounds: the Core stage is situated in a forest environment, while the Mainstage has the natural amphitheatre landscape similar to the holy grounds in Boom.
“On the festival grounds, over 280,000 virtual people each have their own attributes, such as flags or lights. The digital universe of Tomorrowland Around the World has ten times more polygons compared to a modern computer game, pushing the limits of the most modern game engines and hardware.”
Scene from Tomorrowland 2019
– Scene from Tomorrowland 2019