Virtual Production- A Game-changer For Animation Industry?

Filmmakers can now use virtual production technology to advance storytelling without being limited by conventional limitations

The global animation market is expected to reach US$ 642.5 billion, a phenomenal increase from US$ 354.7 billion in 20201 by the end of this decade. Animation unquestionably encompasses much more than a simple animated film or television show. It can be seen in live-action movies, video games, and just about anywhere else, and is only expanding. Virtual production is an emerging trend that has become extremely popular in recent times.

Iterations during each step of the process led to inefficiencies and increased costs for animation productions, as artists used to spend a great deal of time sketching and painting animated scenes frame by frame. But as computer-generated imagery (CGI), real-time game engines, and technologies like motion capture gained popularity, this began to change. The use of virtual production technology frees filmmakers from the constraints imposed by conventional methods. Famous motion pictures like Avatar and Interstellar have used it, as have more recent films like The Mandalorian, Westworld, and The Midnight Sky.

With its increasing popularity, it appears that virtual production is going to be the game-changer the industry needs. That narrows it to the importance of letting people know what exactly virtual production is, and why is it being hailed as the animation of the future. Since virtual is currently the most realistic form of animation, let's break this down for you.

Virtual production technology, whether it be virtual sets or virtual characters, has changed how games, movies, and television are developed as well as how the animation industry will develop in the future. The characters in a show can quickly transition from one location to another by projecting a virtual set onto an LED wall. The filmmaker can record a stunt performer in a motion capture suit performing the actions that the animated character is to perform rather than an animator working alone in a studio for weeks to create small bits of animation. Using virtual production technology, this can then be applied to the animated character for whom it is intended. With current staffing levels, studios may be able to produce five times as much content thanks to Virtual Production.2

Filmmakers can now use virtual production technology to advance storytelling without being limited by conventional limitations. The Mandalorian, Westworld, Thor: Love and Thunder, and The Midnight Sky are recent examples of films that have made use of real-time technology, which is the cornerstone of virtual production. Other notable examples include Avatar and Interstellar.

Real-time technology, global teams…endless possibilities

The ability to view virtual environments and characters in real-time is probably one of the most compelling arguments for why virtual production technology is being used more frequently. The most open and sophisticated real-time 3D creation software on the market today, Unreal Engine, allows processes that would previously occur sequentially and separately to occur simultaneously.

In light of the recent pandemic, which has made on-location shooting more challenging, it gives the filmmaker speed and flexibility. It enables an animator or game developer to walk the tightrope between the worlds of traditional animation technology and that of a filmmaker who is familiar with camera techniques. Quality animations are produced at faster speeds as a result. As a result, the options are limitless.

The changing face of the animation industry

The time when impressive visuals required large teams and a large budget is long gone. All it takes is a group of knowledgeable individuals working on the content with the appropriate equipment, even from home offices. It is being said that this new trend in video game and film production is the democratisation of virtual production technology. Tools that were previously only accessible to those with large teams and deep pockets are now available to everyone.

The next generation of animators—neo-digital multimedia artists who aren't afraid to push boundaries, unleash new ideas, and do things as they've never been done before—will be equipped with a full suite of development tools thanks to international animation technology like Unreal Engine.

Work on your dream projects – all it takes is the right training

If you have the skills and training, you can establish a career in virtual production and collaborate with the best in the field on international projects. These courses, which range from Basic Cinematography to Visual Effects Storytelling, Advanced Story Workshop, Advanced Computer GFX, Advanced Compositing, and more, can help you advance your skills, explore a new career path, or increase your options in the field of animation for motion pictures, television shows, and video games. Therefore, you too can participate in the revolution that is sweeping the sector.

*The author is Dr Nalin Mehta, President, EDGE by Pearl Academy

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