The creative worlds are predicting huge demand for virtually produced content. MPC’s Mark Benson and Jonathan Davies reflect on how we should upskill senior talent and nurture the next generation to fulfil that demand
On 10th February, Screen Skills, the Department for International Trade (DIT) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) backed a move to ensure the UK is a global centre of excellence in virtual production by developing national standards for training in high-tech roles in virtual production.
The purpose of the initiative is to create national standards, and a common agreement across industry and academia as to the definition of virtual production, the job roles within it, and the skills that individuals need to have or attain in different roles and at different levels of seniority as its potential continues to evolve.
In the UK, there are exciting times ahead. The British government has officially recognised a need to nurture and upskill thousands of screen professionals, from entry level apprentices and trainees to heads of department.
As part of a new series on virtual production MPC Advertising, CEO Mark Benson and MPC MD, London and Amsterdam, Jonathan Davies weigh in on what this announcement means for production talent in the UK, and how we can prepare the next generation of content creators across the board.
NEW TALENT: Broad Skills and Close Ties Between Business and Education will be Key
Currently in the UK, there are film schools who train young people in multiple disciplines from filmmaking to specialist VFX. However, Jonathan and Mark note that this initiative to prepare talent in the virtual production environment could change what studios look for with new starters in the business
“Looking to the future, I think students need to have a broad range of filmmaking skills and VFX skills. Gone are the days of siloed specialist roles. Film schools in the UK have, in the past, been very traditional in their approach and what students learn there is often quite specific. But I think as we look at the way virtual production is evolving, we’re going to have a need for talent with a broader, generalist skill set that studios like MPC and others can build on,” adds Jonathan.
Both Mark and Jonathan see the move as a huge opportunity for the industry. “This is a very exciting time,” says Mark. “It’s highly significant that the government is recognising the need for investment. What’s underlying this, of course, is the ongoing growth in demand for new content.”
He continues, “A strong connection between the schools, colleges, universities, and industry is going to be very important. This will ensure the necessary connection between education, innovation and the practical needs and requirements of the industry – not just today but a connection that provides the building blocks for a bright future for the UK industry.”
SENIOR TALENT: On-Set Experience & Camera Skills Must Be Teamed with VFX Production
Drawing on virtual production experience on both the feature film and commercial content space, Jonathan explains the thinking behind a need for both entry-level and senior talent who have a range of experience.
“We realised quickly that to work on virtual production right now, you also need that multi-talented skill set with senior talent. You can’t just work with someone from the real-time technology or gaming space that doesn’t understand the VFX side, and vice versa. There is a gap to be filled with an understanding of how real-time VFX could have different impacts depending on where, when, and how it is deployed across a set – whether it be virtual or with LED Volumes. Looking at what we did on say, Lexus. We had a team of people. We had Carsten, [Keller – Creative Director/ Head of CG] who has years of experience working on set with directors using various different cameras, rigs, and lighting. So we took all of his skills and expertise and paired him with a team that came from the more classical VFX/ CG background. They combined their skillsets that also include the latest real-time know-how and between them as a group, they had the skills set to be able to talk to a director and understand what was needed to create their vision in VFX and understand what it would look like if, for example, they were using a Russian arm with a specific camera lens. You have to have that shooting knowledge
AN ELEMENT OF EVOLUTION
Reflecting on how new skills and technologies have become widely accessible, Jonathan adds, “I think what we could also see here is something new. In some ways, young content creators who are immersed in the gaming world may potentially learn about camera angles through a gaming lens. It doesn’t necessarily have to be physical experience. That is something we will see as we move forward.”
“I agree, this process is an evolution,” Mark concurs. “This is a significant change in the world of content creation; it is a huge and exciting step forward and we have a great opportunity to enable, empower and inspire the next generation of storytellers.
First published on LBB Online