Valve’s Creative Use of Steam Deck OLED Prototypes

Valve’s decision to create the launch trailer for the Steam Deck OLED using practical photography rather than computer-generated imagery was truly innovative. To celebrate the launch of the device, they constructed an entire orb using 100 OLED prototypes that were available around the office. This approach allowed them to showcase the capabilities of the new OLED screens in a unique and visually stunning way. The process of building the orb and getting all the prototypes to work together to light the scene in the camera was a challenging yet rewarding endeavor for the team at Valve.

The idea to use actual Steam Deck OLEDs as the only light sources for the launch trailer came from the team’s realization of how bright and vibrant the new panels were. The team used the 100 prototype units to light a central “hero” device and then had to figure out how to surround it effectively. The solution? Constructing a large metal orb. The shopping list for the shoot included a combination of custom-milled and prefabricated aluminum frames, network switches, networking equipment, and other accessories necessary to bring the creative vision to life.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the project was the method Valve used to control all the screens within the orb. Since the Steam Deck is essentially a Linux PC, the team utilized off-the-shelf solutions to network the devices and display content with low latency. By using OBS with a specific plugin called NDI, Valve was able to seamlessly send video around the LAN for a synchronized viewing experience. To address the challenge of streaming video onto a curved surface, the team created a video template using CAD files from the original orb frame. This allowed them to map the locations of each OLED screen accurately and maintain visual integrity in the final results.

After shooting the launch trailer, Valve decided to keep the orb intact and installed it in the lobby of their offices. This decision was made to allow visitors from around the world to experience the unique installation and bask in its impressive glow. The orb serves as a testament to Valve’s creativity and innovation in utilizing technology for visual storytelling. However, it is essential to consider the maintenance of the OLED panels to ensure they are running efficiently and at peak brightness for continued enjoyment by visitors.

Valve’s use of Steam Deck OLED prototypes to create a visually stunning orb for the launch trailer is a testament to the company’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional filmmaking techniques. The behind-the-scenes process of constructing the orb, controlling the screens, and maintaining the installation showcases Valve’s ingenuity and technical expertise. The legacy of the orb as a permanent installation in Valve’s office lobby demonstrates the lasting impact of creative thinking and innovative use of technology in visual storytelling.

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