zLense is a new depth-mapping camera system that can capture 3D data and scenery from what it's pointed at in real-time – and use this to add CG elements  to the footage.

Aimed primarily at broadcasters and film productions, the technology processes the 3D space information of what's in front of the camera – enabling production teams to create 3D effects and use CG in live TV or pre-recorded transmissions without the usual

Developed by Zinemath, the zLense Virtual Production platform combines depth-sensing technology and image-processing in a standalone camera rig that captures the 3D scene and camera movement. You can see it in action in Zinemath's video below.

The matte box sensor unit, which Zinemath says can be mounted on almost any camera rig, removes the need for external tracking devices or markers, while the platform’s built-in rendering engine cuts the cost and complexity of using visual effects in live and pre-recorded TV productions. The company said the platform can be used alongside other pre-exisiting, rendering engines, VR systems and tracking technologies.

The VFX real-time capabilities enabled by the zLense Virtual Production platform include volumetric effects, dynamic relighting, additional motion and depth blur and shadows and reflections to create convincing state-of-the-art visual appearances. It also promises realistic 3D distortion, real-time Z-map and 3D models of the picture, wide shot and in-depth compositions with full body figures, and interactive physical particle simulations.

YThe zLense is designed to be clipped onto the front of almost any professional-level video camera.
The zLense aims to make it cheaper and easier to set up virtual sets with CG elements, such as this weather forecast example.

The company said directors would be able to produce simulated and augmented reality worlds with the system, generating and combining dynamic VR and AR effects in live studio or outside broadcast transmissions. The depth-sensing technology allows for a full 360 degree freedom of camera movement and gives presenters greater freedom to perform, allowing them greater interaction with CG objects in the scene. Directors can combine dolly, jib arm and handheld shots as presenters move within, interact with and control the virtual environment.

“We’re poised to shake up the Virtual Studio world by putting affordable high-quality real-time CGI into the hands of broadcasters,” said Bruno Gyorgy, President of zLense. “This unique world-leading technology changes the face of TV broadcasting as we know it, giving producers and programme directors access to CGI tools and techniques that transform the audience viewing experience.”

The zLense can be attached to a wide range of rigs

Gyorgy claimed the system removed the the need for expensive matchmoving work.

“The zLense Virtual Production platform dramatically speeds up the 3D compositing process, making it possible for directors to mix CGI and live action shots in real-time pre-visualisation and take the production values of their studio and OB live transmissions to a new level,” he added. “The solution is quick to install, requires just a single operator, and is operable in almost any studio lighting.”