As part of an initiative led by the cultural services of the French Embassy in Canada, with the support of the Consulate General of France in Québec, coordinated by Alliance Française de Vancouver in partnership with Xn Québec, we are proposing a series of portraits of the XR industry in Canada. Through this series of portraits which discuss the history and vision of these companies, we invite you to discover the talents behind the immersive and techno-creative studios listed in our database of XR in Canada.
This portrait of HCXR, a studio located in Toronto and Jerusalem, was realized with the help of Fabio Hofnik.
HCXR is an award-winning team of creators and technologists defining the future of the metaverse. We create experiences that are fantastic, transcendent, and impossible in the physical world. We seek to build partnerships where applying XR solves fundamental problems or creates new opportunities for communication and expression. Founded in 2018, we operate internationally with offices in both Toronto & Jerusalem, specializing in building immersive technologies with an innovative edge. XR as a medium is rapidly evolving, and we are pushing its limits to create experiences that evoke awe and wonder.
What sets you apart from other companies in Canada?
HCXR is supported and underwritten by a spectrum of Canadian and Israeli development funding. We have successfully accessed both funds and incentives for the arts & creative development, scientific research, and development support. These come in many forms, including grants, subsidies, incentives, and federal & provincial tax credits. These structures serve as a multiplier of cash investment. We are uniquely positioned to receive support in Israel and Canada and have also executed several joint Canada-Israel funds and incentives.
We put a great emphasis on exploring, researching and developing novel Volumetric XR tourism and cultural applications enabling real-time, multi-party interaction of users spread around the globe. We work with cultural institutions and develop shared XR experiences that cultivate understanding by exploring our fundamental similarities, using gamification and interactivity. Our focus on heritage preservation in XR, helps to address issues such as addressability, interactivity, and relationship with the socially isolated audience.
We have developed a novel pipeline and workflow for interpolating volumetric data and processing an optimized output for tethered and wireless standalone headsets, allowing us the versatility to present volumetric 6dof assets for multiple users simultaneously. With the deployment of 5G networking in XR, we will be using cloud computing for the rendering and streaming of low latency content to wireless XR devices.
Tell us about some of your past projects
CMF international, production and marketing support, Ontario Creates, JFF, Israel Arts Council, Tower of David Museum.
An innovative gamified documentary experience capturing the indescribable magnetism of Jerusalem.
BUDGET: $1.5M, Available for immediate purchase on : Steam, Oculus store, Viveport, Vimeo.
AWARDS: Lumiere Award for Best Educational XR; Games for Change – Best XR for Change ; Byron Bay Film festival – Best Interactive VR Experience; Immersive Perspective Award – Editor’s Choice Award
NOMINATIONS: Canadian Academy Award nominee, Guanajuato International Film Festival 2019 – Best Documentary VR Experience, Raindance Film Festival 2019 – Best Documentary Experience, Virtuality XR Awards
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Cannes Film Festival; Cannes XR; Guanajuato International Film Festival 2019; Raindance Film Festival; Byron Bay film festival; FIVARS film festival; Dok Neuland XR exhibition; Verzio Human Rights film festival – Vektor; Virtuality XR awards; POFF – Black Nights film festival; Stereopsia – Lumiere Awards; FIPA – Biarritz; VRE – Rome
CMF international, marketing, JFF, Sodec, Kan Israel Public Broadcaster, Bell Fund, Israel Arts Council
A poetic, interactive XR documentary telling the tragic tale of the legendary Dead Sea. A rare glimpse into one of the world’s most dangerous and soon to be extinct wonders. A deep insight into the complexity and very human impact of this ecological and geopolitical crisis.
AWARDS: Lumiere Award for Best Documentary XR; VRE Rome – Best Interactive Experience 2020 award
OFFICIAL SELECTIONS & NOMINATIONS : Games for Change – Best XR for Change, SXSW, Siggraph, Cannes XR 2020, One World, FIPA Smart, FNC Montreal.
Case Study — Challenges and Takeaways
In producing The Holy City we faced several challenges. The first challenge was in creating a demo that will persuade and convince all the funding bodies to support the production. In order to produce this initial demo we had to capture the religious events held in the city with a very futuristic looking technology that very few people knew of. Walking around Jerusalem with a camera that looks like a bomb and has little resemblance to a regular camera was not easy. Once we got past this first hurdle, we were faced with the challenge of filming the gates to the city and the Holy sites when no one was about. The team would wake up at 3am and wait for the first light, waiting for the night workers to head home, then capturing as quickly as possible while the sites were clear.
One of our greatest challenges was the sheer size and processing requirements of the hundreds of thousands of photos we took, and LIDAR we scanned. We had to upload it all to the cloud and build a monstrous server that could land a spaceship to do the computing to align the photos and mesh them together to create the photoreal 3d spaces.
The experience takes place in photoreal volumetric captures of some of the most important and beautiful sites in Jerusalem, highlighting its architectural beauty, diverse inhabitants, and spiritual history. In creating these 3D spaces, hundreds of thousands of photos were captured using extremely high-resolution cameras. The data footprint of this project exceeded 50 terabytes, and the computer power required to process it was immense. Using LIDAR scanning, these photos were aligned with photogrammetry data with very high precision yielding highly accurate and photoreal results. Real-time rendering for virtual reality headsets forced the team to optimize these highly dense graphic assets so they could play with the least latency in VR. The Unity 3D game engine was used to fabricate and generate the experience that plays on the Oculus Rift platform.
The museum experience that is already set up at the Tower of David Museum uses Gamification and Interactivity for the purpose of documentary storytelling, guiding the virtual visitor through a maze of stories and sites. The gameplay experience includes an innovative Augmented Reality component, allowing participants other than the viewer in the virtual reality headset, to further engage in the experience. This proprietary tool allows non-VR users to connect wirelessly and be immersed in the experience in conjunction with the VR headset.
An innovative, proprietary XR (Extended Reality) installation format connects a Windows Augmented Reality tablet to the Virtual Reality headset for a seamless extended reality experience. This technology was created for the permanent exhibit at Tower of David Museum. The experience runs on Oculus Rift S headset and a Microsoft Surface 2 touch screen tablet connected wirelessly.
How would you describe the advantages of working with an international co-producer?
Working with International co-producers creates great opportunities but also just as many challenges. Through co-productions, Canadian producers can share creative and technical ideas and find local resources and technologies that exist in other regions of the world. One of the challenges is in finding the financial structure and business model that would serve both territories. With tax incentivization and the need to spend the funds locally to trigger funding, the financial puzzle can be troublesome but patience has its virtue.
Looking ahead: Why should companies seek you out for co-productions?
We have gained much experience in international coproductions, working with European and Middle Eastern partners. We can assist international partners in understanding the Canadian funding sources, their interests and regulations, identifying what projects will make it across the threshold and what adaptation may be necessary to relay the story to the Canadian public. We also bring to the table access to two territories and are uniquely positioned to access funding sources both in Canada and Israel.
We are currently in development of six new projects and will be keen to collaborate with partners in realizing these productions.
Mapping XR in Canada
Do you want to develop a collaboration with Canada? Discover Canada’s immersive and techno-creative studios by checking out Québec/Canada XR’s living database of XR in Canada.
Your Canadian studio doesn’t appear in the database? Promote your studio, your expertise and your main sectors of activity by filling out the following registration form to benefit from its visibility.