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2023 Is The Year Virtual Production Goes Mainstream
SHOWRUNNER's State of Virtual Production Survey 2023 Report indicates that three-fourths of filmmakers anticipate that they will do at least a little work in virtual production this year.
It's 2023, and virtual production is a hot topic of discussion on the lips of filmmakers worldwide. The cutting-edge process is making waves across the film, TV, and commercial production landscape, according to data from two industry surveys conducted this January.
Virtual production (VP) is the use of technology to create high-quality locations in studio settings, often using LED walls to make it appear that actors are in faraway places. Think Disney Plus' Mandalorian, HBO's House of the Dragon, and Netflix's 1899. All of these shows were set in detailed, fantastical locations, and shot using VP technology.
Some VP studios use green screens, a standard in traditional production, while most major studios utilize LED walls and video game world-building technology to create massive, fantastical, and realistic sets with technology alone.
Since virtual production is still an emerging industry, an initial investment in the technology can be high. However, studios recoup their investment over time through cost savings. For example, VP allows studios to reduce or eliminate expenses related to building sets and flying to remote locations, while still relying on added visual effects (VFX). These benefits make VP an exciting, appealing, and cost-effective production method for many studios. As VFX Supervisor Rob Legato (Titanic, Avatar) told Forbes, “Productions can now do for $25 million what used to cost $100 million."
The same practices that bring costs down also help reduce studios' carbon footprint. Commercial producer Chris Chaundler told Variety, “Our industry hasn't got a good track record when it comes to its environmental responsibilities. Huge crews are traveling all over the world with energy-intensive generators, equipment, and large one-off-disposal sets."
Expensive and environmentally detrimental scenes, like car commercials, chase scenes, and those with explosives, can now be produced at a fraction of the cost with significantly less carbon output.
The Virtual Sky Is The Limit
The growth we've seen in VP recently is just the tip of the iceberg that will be 2023 and beyond. We at SHOWRUNNER wanted to understand how virtual production is affecting the film landscape, how filmmakers and studio owners are responding to it, and what big needs and questions filmmakers have about it. We surveyed hundreds of filmmakers and industry experts to compile our 2023 State of Virtual Production Report. We found the results exciting and enlightening, and hope they help illuminate more of this groundbreaking era of filmmaking.