Alex and Tim Porter—Innovators of Tomorrow

Learn about Alex and Tim Porter from Underminer Studios, they are creating 3D animated images of objects and people for entertainment with increased realism and immersion using volumetric capture!

Innovators of Tomorrow is a show focused on giving insight into the work and inspirations from developers in our Intel Software Innovator Program. Our Innovators are driving technologies that put computing power into new use cases and areas of work. And beyond the code, our innovators often have personal insights, and experiences that are focusing their work in ways that we find amazing and inspirational.

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Hi, Wendy here. And welcome to Innovators of Tomorrow. It has been a few months since you've heard from me, but that's because we have been hard at work meeting with Intel innovators to get some new stories to share. 

Today, we bring you the story of husband and wife innovators Alex and Tim Porter of Underminer Studios. Recently, they've upped level their work in the technology of volumetric video capture-- a new way to record people in a three dimensional space. So let's see how they are innovating on new platforms and chasing their dream together. 

Tim's career was over a decade in the games and movies. And we really wanted to take all of his strengths in regard to the entertainment space and my strengths in regard to business and put them together. Underminer Studios has been around for almost three years. We actually started this because we really wanted an opportunity to work together. 

Our day to day, it's interesting, and it's buried. And I like it that way, and I think we both really like it that way. I get to spend time with her, I get to spend time with my family, and it's amazing. 

Tim and I and our perfect combination happened when we met, in all places, online. We actually met on a dating site, and we began dating and just a couple of weeks later moved in together. We planned the wedding in a month. We planned a small ceremony for 30 or so of our friends the family. 

So volumetric video, for anybody out there that aren't cool with the new lingo, it's a new way of recording, it's new way of capturing. And so the cool thing is we use a large array of cameras that are set around a central object, in this case, a human being. And as that person is standing in the middle, we record them from all of those different angles. 

We are working right now on proofing out a concept with the Grove UP boards and 104 cameras. It's a mix of board cameras and webcams, all mounted on tripods. And we are partnered with a local studio, St. Elmo Soundstage. And they're giving us space to create this proof of concept. 

So we can use the three dimensional space to record people and then put them and digitize them immediately into a three dimensional environment. The really awesome thing that ends up happening in this is that we remove the uncanny valley. If you look at anything that we've tried that is human that's out there, it always has that look where they're not quite people. And so that's what this, is movement towards the future, a different way to record. 

It literally is board cameras. There's nothing but like a raw lens on a piece of printed circuitry. And then those are Velcroed to corrugated wire piping. And then there are wires absolutely everywhere. It is amazingly raw, but at the same time, it speaks to what innovation is. 

The Intel Innovation Network has actually been a shuge support of ours as well. They've sponsored this project. We're very grateful for all the support that we're getting. 

We're humans, and we all have different things that make us tick. And sometimes there's a task that's not really in it for us. And we don't feel it, we don't really like it. And sometimes it takes some encouragement and working together to really make it work. 

Passion is key. And I really think in regard to what we have going, it's work-life fusion. How can you fuse these things and make sure that everyone's needs are taken care of? How can you really feel like you're contributing to the world and taking care of your family at the same time? 

I would tell every developer out there don't chase the money, chase the dream. if we go back to Steve Jobs and Wozniak and what they were building, they literally had plywood boxes, wooden boxes, that was the Apple I that they were selling to people. This is the start of innovation. 

And I'm always amazed that there are so many people that want to believe, that want to look at the dream with us and go, you know, I don't see every bit of it. But I believe you. And I can see I can see enough of the glimmer that the hope of the future will be bright. 

Thank you, Alex and Tim, for sharing your story with us. If you'd like to learn more about Underminer Studios, their volumetric capture project, or the Intel Software Innovator Program, just follow the links. Make sure to subscribe to see more Innovators of Tomorrow, and we'll see you next time.