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1. (WO2001035675) VIRTUAL PRESENTATION SYSTEM AND METHOD
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CLAIMS
What is claimed is:

1. A method for generating a virtual video presentation, comprising the steps of:
(a) defining a surface within a three-dimensional space of a virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered, the surface dividing the virtual three-dimensional scene into a virtual three-dimensional background scene to be rendered and a virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to be rendered;
(b) rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene to be located behind the surface within the virtual video presentation;
(c) rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to be located in front of the surface within the virtual video presentation;
(d) generating a two-dimensional insert video and key signal; and (e) compositing the two-dimensional insert video and key signal, the rendered virtual three-dimensional background scene, and the rendered virtual three-dimensional foreground scene together to form the virtual video presentation wherein the two-dimensional insert video appears in front of the three-dimensional background scene and the three-dimensional foreground scene appears in front of the two-dimensional insert video and the three-dimensional background scene.

2. The method of Claim 1 wherein the step of defining a surface within the three-dimensional space of a virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered includes the step of defining a Z-sphere using a virtual camera and an aim point of the virtual camera looking at the virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered, wherein the virtual camera is at the center of the Z-sphere within the three-dimensional space and the Z-sphere is defined by the aim point of the virtual camera.

3. The method of Claim 1 wherein the step of rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene includes the step of rendering an animated three-dimensional background scene using a computer and the step of rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes the step of rendering an animated three-dimensional foreground scene using a computer.

4. The method of Claim 3 wherein the three-dimensional animated background scene and the three-dimensional animated foreground scene are three-dimensional animated weather scenes.

5. The method of Claim 1 wherein the steps of rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene and rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene are performed separately.

6. The method of Claim 1 wherein the steps of rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene and rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene are completed before the step of compositing the two-dimensional insert video and rendered virtual three-dimensional background and foreground scenes to form the virtual video presentation.

7. The method of Claim 1 wherein the step of rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene includes the step of rendering a background scene to be located both behind and in front of the surface within the virtual video presentation, and wherein the step of compositing the two-dimensional insert video and key signal, the rendered virtual three-dimensional background scene, and the rendered virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes the step of compositing a portion of the background scene to be located behind the surface within the virtual video presentation and a portion of the background scene to be located in front of the surface within the virtual video presentation but not in front of the two-dimensional insert video with the two-dimensional insert video signal and only a portion of the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to appear in front of the two-dimensional insert video to form the virtual video presentation.

8. The method of Claim 1 wherein the step of generating a two-dimensional insert video and key signal includes the step of generating a live two- dimensional insert video and key signal for compositing in real time with the rendered virtual three-dimensional background and foreground scenes.

9. The method of Claim 1 wherein the step of generating the two-dimensional insert video and key signal includes the steps of positioning an object in front of a chroma-key wall and generating the two-dimensional insert video using a video camera for taking a video image of the object in front of the chroma-key wall.

10. The method of Claim 1 wherein the step of rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes the step of generating a foreground transparency key signal representing a transparency of foreground objects in the foreground scene and wherein the step of compositing the rendered virtual three-dimensional foreground scene with the two-dimensional insert video and key signal and the virtual three-dimensional background scene includes the step of employing the foreground transparency key signal when compositing the rendered virtual three-dimensional foreground scene with the rendered virtual three-dimensional background scene and the two-dimensional insert video and key signal such that a portion of the two-dimensional insert video is visible through the foreground objects in the virtual video presentation.

11. The method of Claim 1 comprising the additional step of broadcasting the virtual video presentation while performing the step of compositing the two-dimensional insert video and key signal, the rendered virtual three-dimensional background scene, and the rendered virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to form the virtual video presentation.

12. The method of Claim 1 comprising the additional step of distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal before compositing the two-dimensional insert video and key signal with the rendered virtual three-dimensional background and foreground scenes.

13. The method of Claim 12 wherein the step of distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal includes the step of distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal such that sides of a two-dimensional insert video image defined by the two-dimensional insert video and key signal are perpendicular to an arc and a top and bottom of the two-dimensional insert video image are distorted into arch shapes.

14. The method of Claim 13 wherein the virtual three-dimensional scene includes an arc shaped floor image corresponding to the arc shape of the bottom of the two-dimensional insert video image and wherein the step of compositing the two-dimensional insert video and key signal with the rendered virtual three-dimensional background scene and the rendered virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to form the virtual video presentation forms a virtual video presentation wherein the bottom of the distorted two-dimensional insert video image appears adjacent to the arc shaped floor image.

15. A method for generating layers of a multi-layer virtual video presentation, comprising the steps of:
(a) defining a surface within a three-dimensional space of a virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered, the surface dividing the virtual three-dimensional scene into a virtual three-dimensional background scene to be rendered and a virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to be rendered;
(b) rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene to be located behind the surface within the virtual video presentation;
(c) storing the virtual three-dimensional background scene for later play back;
(d) rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to be located in front of the surface within the virtual video presentation; and
(e) storing the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene for later play back.

16. The method of Claim 15 wherein the step of defining a surface within the three-dimensional space of a virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered includes the step of defining a Z-sphere using a virtual camera and an aim point of the virtual camera looking at the virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered, wherein the virtual camera is at the center of the Z-sphere within the three-dimensional space and the Z-sphere is defined by the aim point of the virtual camera.

17. The method of Claim 15 wherein the step of rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene includes the step of rendering a scene to be located both behind and in front of the surface within the virtual video presentation.

18. The method of Claim 15 wherein the step of rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene includes the step of rendering an animated three-dimensional background scene using a computer and the step of rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes the step of rendering an animated three-dimensional foreground scene using a computer.

19. The method of Claim 18 wherein the three-dimensional animated background scene and the three-dimensional animated foreground scene are three-dimensional animated weather scenes.

20. The method of Claim 15 wherein the steps of rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene and rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene are performed separately.

21. The method of Claim 15 wherein the step of rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes the step of generating a foreground transparency key signal representing a transparency of foreground objects in the foreground scene and wherein the step of storing the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes the step of storing the foreground transparency key signal.

22. A method for generating a virtual video presentation, comprising the steps of:
(a) rendering a virtual three-dimensional scene;
(b) generating a two-dimensional insert video and key signal defining a two-dimensional insert video image;
(c) distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal to distort the two-dimensional video image; and
(d) compositing the distorted two-dimensional video and key signal with the rendered virtual three-dimensional scene to form the virtual video presentation.

23. The method of Claim 22 wherein the step of generating the two-dimensional insert video and key signal includes the steps of positioning an object in front of a chroma-key wall and generating the two-dimensional insert video using a video camera for taking a video image of the object in front of the chroma-key wall.

24. The method of Claim 22 wherein the step of distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal includes the step of distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal such that sides of the two-dimensional insert video image defined by the two-dimensional insert video and key signal are perpendicular to an arc and a top and bottom of the two-dimensional insert video image are distorted into arch shapes.

25. The method of Claim 24 wherein the virtual three -dimensional scene includes an arc shaped floor image corresponding to the arc shape of the bottom of the two-dimensional insert video image and wherein the step of compositing the distorted two-dimensional insert video and key signal with the virtual three-dimensional scene to form the virtual video presentation forms a virtual video presentation wherein the bottom of the distorted two-dimensional insert video image appears adjacent to the arc shaped floor image.

26. An apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation, comprising:
(a) means for defining a surface within a three-dimensional space of a virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered, the surface dividing the virtual three-dimensional scene into a virtual three-dimensional background scene to be rendered and a virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to be rendered;
(b) means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene to be located behind the surface within the virtual video presentation;
(c) means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to be located in front of the surface within the virtual video presentation;
(d) means for generating a two-dimensional insert video and key signal; and
(e) means for compositing the two-dimensional insert video and key signal, the rendered virtual three-dimensional background scene, and the rendered virtual three-dimensional foreground scene, to form the virtual video presentation wherein the two-dimensional insert video appears in front of the three-dimensional background scene and the three-dimensional foreground scene appears in front of the two-dimensional insert video and the three-dimensional background scene.

27. The apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation of Claim 26 wherein the means for defining a surface within the three-dimensional space of a virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered includes means for defining a Z-sphere using a virtual camera and an aim point of the virtual camera looking at the virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered, wherein the virtual camera is at the center of the Z-sphere within the three-dimensional space and the Z-sphere is defined by the aim point of the virtual camera.

28. The apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation of Claim 26 wherein the means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene includes a computer and the means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes a computer.

29. The apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation of Claim 26 wherein the means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene includes means for rendering a background scene to be located both behind and in front of the surface within the virtual video presentation, and wherein the means for compositing the two-dimensional insert video and key signal, the rendered virtual three-dimensional background scene, and the rendered virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes means for compositing a portion of the background scene to be located behind the surface within the virtual video presentation and a portion of the background scene to be located in front of the surface within the virtual video presentation but not in front of the two-dimensional insert video with the two-dimensional insert video signal and only a portion of the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to appear in front of the two-dimensional insert video to form the virtual video presentation.

30. The apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation of Claim 26 wherein the means for generating a two-dimensional insert video and key signal includes means for generating a live two-dimensional insert video and key signal for compositing in real time with the rendered virtual three-dimensional background and foreground scenes.

31. The apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation of Claim 26 wherein the means for generating the two-dimensional insert video and key signal includes a chroma-key wall and a video camera for taking a video image of an object in front of the chroma-key wall.

32. The apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation of Claim 26 wherein the means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes means for generating a foreground transparency key signal representing a transparency of foreground objects in the foreground scene and wherein the means for compositing the rendered virtual three-dimensional foreground scene with the rendered virtual three-dimensional background scene and the two-dimensional insert video and key signal includes means for employing the foreground transparency key signal when compositing the rendered virtual three-dimensional foreground scene with the rendered virtual three-dimensional background scene and the two-dimensional insert video and key signal such that a portion of the two-dimensional insert video is visible through the foreground objects in the virtual video presentation.

33. The apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation of Claim 26 wherein the means for compositing the two-dimensional insert video and key signal, the rendered virtual three-dimensional background scene, and the rendered virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to form the virtual video presentation includes at least one chroma-keyer device.

34. The apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation of Claim 26 comprising additionally means for distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal before compositing the two-dimensional insert video and key signal with the rendered virtual three-dimensional background and foreground scenes.

35. The apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation of Claim 34 wherein the means for distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal includes means for distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal such that sides of a two-dimensional insert video image defined by the two-dimensional insert video and key signal are perpendicular to an arc and a top and bottom of the two-dimensional insert video image are distorted into arch shapes.

36. An apparatus for generating layers of a multi-layer virtual video presentation, comprising:
(a) means for defining a surface within a three-dimensional space of a virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered, the surface dividing the virtual three-dimensional scene into a virtual three-dimensional background scene to be rendered and a virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to be rendered;
(b) means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene to be located behind the surface within the virtual video presentation;

(c) means for storing the virtual three-dimensional background scene for later play back;
(d) means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene to be located in front of the surface within the virtual video presentation; and (e) means for storing the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene for later play back.

37. The apparatus for generating layers of a multi-layer virtual video presentation of Claim 36 wherein the means for defining a surface within the three-dimensional space of a virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered includes means for defining a Z-sphere using a virtual camera and an aim point of the virtual camera looking at the virtual three-dimensional scene to be rendered, wherein the virtual camera is at the center of the Z-sphere within the three-dimensional space and the Z-sphere is defined by the aim point of the virtual camera.

38. The apparatus for generating layers of a multi-layer virtual video presentation of Claim 36 wherein the means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene includes means for rendering a background scene to be located both behind and in front of the surface within the virtual video presentation.

39. The apparatus for generating layers of a multi-layer virtual video presentation of Claim 36 wherein the means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional background scene includes a computer and the means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes a computer.

40. The apparatus for generating layers of a multi-layer virtual video presentation of Claim 36 wherein the means for rendering the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes means for generating a foreground transparency key signal representing a transparency of foreground objects in the foreground scene and wherein the means for storing the virtual three-dimensional foreground scene includes means for storing the foreground transparency key signal.

41. An apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation, comprising:
(a) means for rendering a virtual three-dimensional scene;
(b) means for generating a two-dimensional insert video and key signal defining a two-dimensional insert video image;
(c) means for distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal to distort the two-dimensional video image; and
(d) means for compositing the distorted two-dimensional video and key signal with the rendered virtual three-dimensional scene to form the virtual video presentation.

42. The apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation of Claim 41 wherein the means for generating the two-dimensional insert video and key signal includes a chroma-key wall and a video camera for taking a video image of an object in front of the chroma-key wall.

43. The apparatus for generating a virtual video presentation of Claim 41 wherein the means for distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal includes means for distorting the two-dimensional insert video and key signal such that sides of the two-dimensional insert video image defined by the two-dimensional insert video and key signal are perpendicular to an arc and a top and bottom of the two-dimensional insert video image are distorted into arch shapes.