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Tom Rockhill | COO | disguise

Reimagine Storytelling with disguise

Imagine technology that can place real people in virtual worlds, bring digital humans to the physical world, and place physical and digital humans in a mixed reality world.

Sounds like a far off futuristic world?

UK company disguise has been pioneering the technology powering spectacular visual experiences and productions for 15 years and is now leading the way in providing an intersection between physical and digital worlds.

disguise is a platform where creatives and technologists can imagine, create, and deliver spectacular visual experiences and production environments. With a unique combination of expert production software and powerful media server hardware, the disguise platform empowers brands, artists, and production houses to tell stories that inspire their audiences.

disguise streamlines complex workflows to empower its community of users to tell their best story and create spectacular experiences.

Continually introducing disguise to new markets without losing sight of existing client demands, disguise Chief Commercial Officer Tom Rockhill is responsible for driving growth while ensuring the customer is always kept top of mind. He has developed a deep understanding of the products he worked with – from operating broadcast cameras in his early career, to working with complex enterprise solutions and emerging technologies today.

Trusted and Advanced Experience

 disguise’s 20-year history was primarily established within the live event space, fueling global concert tours for artists like U2 and Beyoncé, festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury, and theatre productions like Frozen and Harry Potter.

If you have seen a spectacular show, installation, product launch or broadcast production, disguise has probably been involved.

In the past two years, disguise has led the way in Extended Reality (xR) for remote virtual production by building a brand new solution. The company’s award-winning xR workflow has powered over 400 immersive real-time productions across live entertainment for music artists such as Katy Perry and Billie Eilish, film and episodic TV productions for Netflix and Amazon Prime, corporate presentations for Siemens and Verizon, and live broadcast programs from Eurosport, MTV, and ITV, in more than 40 countries.

With a combination of disguise’s versatile software, users can design, sequence, and control the most spectacular productions. disguise also offers training and support so users can make the best use of the technology, creating a powerful, collaborative environment where artists and technologists can bring their shared vision to life.

The last few years have seen disguise push the boundaries of technological innovation and expand into new markets, resulting in a significantly increased turnover, along with new majority backing from investment firm The Carlyle Group, with Epic Games taking a minority stake. In 2021, disguise was recognized in the 22nd annual Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100 as one of Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing profits over the last three years. This year, disguise has taken home the UK’s most prestigious business award – the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation.

Hardware and Software for Pixel-perfect content

 The company’s Designer software has been trusted by users for over two decades to visualize, design, and sequence video content for projects across live entertainment, fixed installations, and now broadcast and virtual production. Users can rely on using Designer to win pitches, develop storyboards, create camera fly-throughs, validate content, test their technical setups, and design entire shows.

disguise’s powerful media server range offers leading graphics processing, content rendering, and compositing capabilities for these projects. This allows users to put the content they develop in Designer to action. They can render content at unlimited scale and complexity and compose it seamlessly with disguise hardware’s superior networking capabilities, ensuring total frame accuracy. This content can be anything imaginable, including real-time graphics developed in Unreal Engine for virtual sets, video playback content played at unlimited scale in live shows, or projection-mapped installations seen at Dubai’s Expo 2020 or on the Burj Khalifa.

Although there are other hardware products, and some standalone software products on the market, disguise’s technology is an integrated and reliable end-to-end solution that allows users to make changes in their production on-the-fly and maintain ultimate control of all elements.

Tom shares, “Our history in live events means we have built our technology to be used in an environment where there is no room for error. We enable our users to perfectly pre-visualize their projects using our Designer software, while our RenderStream infrastructure seamlessly manages the rendering, tracking, and synchronization of content – thereby significantly simplifying system deployment and operations.”

 He adds, “We have a close relationship with the creators of Unreal Engine – Epic Games. In the past two years, we have been working together to develop our proprietary RenderStream plugin for Unreal Engine, which allows disguise users to take advantage of the latest version of Unreal Engine from day one with minimal configuration.”

 Looking to the future

 disguise has always been dedicated to using the latest and greatest technology in its solutions.

According to Tom, “We see our xR technology growing more prevalent globally with more countries using disguise technology. Our software is currently available in six different languages and is used in over 40 countries. This is just the beginning. We plan to democratize our workflow further, so we become the global gold standard technology for delivering memorable visual experiences.”

disguise is also heavily invested in R&D and participates in programs like Innovate UK and AdMiRe so that it can discover new technologies and develop new solutions. It partners closely with tech industry leaders at Epic Games, ROE Visual, NVIDIA, Netflix, and many more to use the best of their technology to develop its extended reality solution further and enable teams anywhere to create their best story. disguise has recently been investigating into the metaverse, or what some like to call “web 3.0”, so it can help its users build experiences on this new platform and connect with audiences on a whole new level.

Tom explains, “We are leading exploration into the metaverse. There will be many exciting new technologies and projects to look forward to as we consider what the next platform for human experiences and interaction will look like.”

 disguise is also currently working to expand its offering to empower remote and cloud-based collaboration. The acquisition of leading 3D content pre-visualization platforms Mapping Matter and Previz last year, and Polygon Labs this year, represents the next step in disguise’s move towards this future.

Creating Together

 disguise’s values are reflected in all of its team members or “disguisers”. These values are honesty – meaning disguisers share ideas with openness and transparency. disguise is also evolutionary and innovative, addressing users’ ever-changing needs, so the technology remains ahead of the game. The employees are fearless, as they take the best path, not the easiest, and innovate where it’s right and not where it’s simplest. They are resilient and don’t give up until they find the right solution, even if it means going outside their remit.

disguise’s core value is linked to the motto of “create together,” with its community of users being at the heart of everything it does. The company works alongside the world’s most talented visual designers and technical teams in broadcast, film/episodic TV production, concert touring, theatre, fixed installations, and corporate and entertainment events.

Tom states, “We are driven to empower our community of users as best as possible. Starting at the onset of the pandemic and continuing until today, we offer our community of users free access to our Designer software, so that anyone who wishes to get acquainted with disguise and start learning our software can easily do so.”

As extended reality is such a new field, disguise offers education and training so the next generation of storytellers will be accustomed to using its tools. At the end of 2020, it launched a free eLearning platform, allowing its community of users to upskill and get acquainted with new workflows.

“As leaders in the extended and mixed reality market, we know that the next biggest change is the widespread adoption of the metaverse space for performance, production and commerce. We have a dedicated team – disguise Labs – set up to leverage our existing extended reality technology and explore new capabilities in that space,” Tom concludes.