Silver Spoon studio delivers AR and XR-based visuals for Netflix’s upcoming ‘Iron Chef’ franchise  

Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend. (L to R) Marcus Samuelsson, Gabriela Camara, Mark Dacascos, Dominique Crenn, Curtis Stone in episode 103 of Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend. Cr. Patrick Wymore/Netflix © 2022

Real-time virtual production studio Silver Spoon have contributed 3D visuals to Netflix’s revival of the Iron Chef franchise. Following their work on Fox Alternative Entertainment’s Alter Ego and CBS Sports’s March Madness, the studio generated augmented reality graphics as well as eight unique 3D XR environments for the competition show, helping to refresh the show’s look while preserving its essence. Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend will premiere on Netflix starting 15 June.

Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend pits five Iron Chefs against Challenger Chefs in the show’s reimagined ‘Kitchen Stadium.’ The most successful Challenger returns in a finale for the chance to become the first-ever ‘Iron Legend’.

“Executed 100% live and in camera, AR and XR can really push the visual boundaries of unscripted television. We are proud to have created something totally unique for Iron Chef, a show that has such a well-established past. I’m excited to see virtual production continue to push further into the mainstream of media production, and explore what this means for the future of TV,” said Silver Spoon executive producer Laura Herzing.

“To help reimagine Iron Chef and introduce it to a new generation, we proactively chose to integrate the dynamic cinematic look and feel that is made possible by AR and XR graphics and technology.  This transformative visual impact has elevated the format into something modern and fresh, while staying true to what makes Iron Chef great. Kitchen Stadium has never been more spectacular. The seamless integration of the real-world and the virtual world is the future of television production and we’re thrilled that it has been such a success as we revitalize this classic franchise,” said Iron Chef executive producer & director Eytan Keller. 

Creating culinary environments in augmented and extended reality

The competition’s unique culinary tasks take the contestants around the world and through different cuisines, with each episode featuring a Secret Ingredient. To elevate visual engagement, Silver Spoon managed the installation and operation of a large-scale LED volume inside the ‘Secret Ingredient Chamber’, extending the practical set into vast, virtual worlds.

With a challenging timeline, the team prepared eight unique 3D environments in Unreal Engine, ranging from underwater scenes and chili fields to a street food market and a medieval feast. Supplementing the XR environments, the team developed AR set extensions, incorporating thousands of DMX-controlled virtual lights, to expand the practical set to a grander scale.

Integrating AR and XR workflows in the production

Throughout the three-week, eight-episode shooting schedule, Silver Spoon provided AR & XR operation, with real-time compositing via Pixotope and camera tracking via Stype for four tracked cameras. Silver Spoon’s key challenge was to seamlessly integrate AR and XR workflows during shooting. Pre-production planning and collaboration among all departments proved to be the key to successfully incorporating virtual production technologies into the classic Iron Chef format.

As per the official synopsis, the legendary Iron Chef series is reborn with a supersized approach to the ground-breaking culinary competition that started it all. It’s been called the toughest culinary challenge a chef will ever experience. This is where world-class cuisine meets high-octane sports. Five new trailblazing Iron Chefs will welcome brave Challenger Chefs to the reimagined Kitchen Stadium, where they’ll face off and be pushed to the limits of endurance and creativity, as they cook up extraordinary culinary creations. The competition’s most successful Challenger will return to battle in a grand finale for the chance to be named the first ever ‘Iron Legend.’  

The series is based on Fuji Television Network’s format.