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The future of content creation: Virtual production

Explore the future of the VFX industry

Virtual production is the use and incorporation of visual effects (VFX) and technology throughout the production life cycle. This process isn’t exactly new; however, there are trends accelerating Hollywood’s increased interest and adoption of the process. As COVID-19 introduces unprecedented challenges to the production process, learn how virtual production capabilities could become a key differentiator for content creators moving forward in a COVID-19 entertainment landscape. Find out more in our new report.

Why is virtual production gaining momentum?

Directors and VFX professionals will define virtual production slightly differently; however, at its core, virtual production is modern content creation that incorporates VFX earlier and leverages technology throughout the entire production life cycle to enhance the way content is created. Furthermore, virtual production can enhance production planning, increase shooting efficiency, and reduce the number of expensive reshoots.

And while virtual production isn’t brand new, a combination of industry, tech, and macroscopic developments is accelerating Hollywood’s interest in virtual production:

  • The popularity of VFX-heavy genres and recent virtual production breakthroughs
  • Increasing accessibility and jockeying between game engines and studios
  • Competition between streaming platforms and film studios
  • COVID-19, physical production, and avoiding a “content desert”

Download the full report to learn more about these trends and how virtual production could shape the future of content creation.

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Unlocking creative vision and business value

According to our interviews with VFX producers, VFX artists, and film studio producers, Hollywood may be reaching the limits of efficiency using the traditional production methodology. The mindset and toolset of virtual production can support not only better creative outcomes, but also potentially significant time and cost savings.

Visualization can help enhance planning, increasing shooting efficiency and reducing the occurrence of expensive reshoots. Based on our research, reshoots are common with high-budget films and can account for 5 to 20 percent (and sometimes more) of the final production cost. Although not every story or director is a good fit for light-emitting diode (LED) live-action production, virtualizing sets saves on travel, transportation, and location costs and reduces risks.

VFX costs on a high-budget sci-fi or fantasy film can be as high as 20 percent of the total film budget; shooting against an LED wall significantly reduces postproduction VFX costs like compositing and rotoscoping and helps filmmakers get ready for test screening more quickly.

Virtual production may also have cost benefits further downstream from principal photography: LED volumes and virtual sets can be used by marketing teams to shoot commercials, and VFX assets can be reused for sequels, subsequent seasons, and other media. While reusing digital assets is not impossible today, it’s not the norm: Most organizations have many digital versions of the same asset (such as the White House) that are not shared because each asset is tied to an individual show, and even within a given show, production and marketing budgets are siloed.

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Rethinking how stories are told

Creative leaders in film and episodic have shown that virtual production can yield incredible outputs. Visualization, motion capture, hybrid camera, and LED live-action are virtual production techniques that belong to the toolset of modern content creation. Like every new technology, there’s an initial learning curve, but the costs of execution will likely ultimately come down over time.

As the global media and entertainment industry is forced to pause production due to COVID-19, now may be an opportune time to set your organization on a path to innovate the way stories are told.

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