The end of 2021 restored normalcy to the movie and TV production industry after the COVID-19 pandemic brought global content production to a standstill. One practice that grew from necessity during the pandemic, Virtual Production (VP), has entered the mainstream as hybrid work environments have become the new norm. Adoption of these remote tools has been hindered by the lack of skilled candidates to fill positions and lack of sophisticated data analysis necessary to make the business case. However, promising faster production schedules, lower costs, and the ability to connect with talent from across the globe, VP tools are gaining favor among production executives in the U.S. and U.K. Altman Solon’s 2022 Global Film & Video Production Report (see attached) offers insight into the use of Virtual Production, benefits and challenges to leveraging VP, and considerations for organizations integrating these tools into future projects.
Virtual Production Today
Today, as crew members gain experience with the technology and promote its value, more productions are turning to VP. However, adoption is limited to productions that benefit most from VP processes, oftentimes those requiring multiple filming locations or sci-fi/fantasy productions. In recent years, Netflix has increased its investments in Virtual Production tools and partnerships, including filming their series, 1899, at a virtual production LED volume facility called Dark Bay. With growing pressures to keep costs low and maintain high production value, VP tools are becoming increasingly attractive for productions to embrace. While 40% of industry executives surveyed are currently using Virtual Production tools, over 50% are likely to adopt VP tools in the coming 18-24 months. These tools enable production teams to more efficiently improve output quantity and quality while boasting cost and time saving benefits.
Factors When Considering and/or Using Virtual Production Technologies
Addressing Gaps in Talent, Data
Challenges persist with attracting diverse, skilled talent and effectively leveraging production data to make the most of these new capabilities. Due to the nature of its emerging technology, VP requires a unique set of creative and technical skills, which can be difficult to find when studios tap into their private networks. More formalized training will become a top priority to keep pace with change and rising content demands as studios make a concerted effort to attract diverse talent outside the bounds of the traditional film and television industry.
The growth in VP usage has increased accessibility to rich data across the production process. Nearly 75% of survey respondents noted collecting operational and process-focused data to guide their decision making around VP. However, production teams hit roadblocks when collecting and analyzing the data for meaningful insights, often stemming from a lack of business intelligence strategy. Effective use of VP data will enable studios to make strategic project-related decisions, including accurately forecasting budgetary, scheduling, and staffing needs.
Factors Limiting Collection of Data on Virtual Production Usage
Considerations for Studios Leveraging VP
In a world embracing hybrid models of working, and global content demand at an all-time high, Virtual Production is set to be a major creator of value in the years to come. As use cases for VP continue to emerge and adoption gains momentum, organizations should consider:
Developing a business case around tech areas yielding cost, timeline, and efficiency improvements to ramp up VP capabilities over time
Implementing operational plans to capture the full potential of new VP workflows
Prioritizing development programs to strengthen the pipeline for diverse, skilled talent
Defining production data and analytics to drive decision-making