HPA 2023: The Promises and Challenges of the Future are Here, Now
Like the 2022 event, the 2023 HPA Tech Retreat was completely sold out, and it’s easy to see why. Organized and hosted by the Hollywood Professional Association, the annual Tech Retreat is regarded as one of the best media and entertainment industry events in the world, and for good reason: it brings together the industry’s most esteemed luminaries (including your favorite virtual production solutions provider). As is typical, the programming and conversations revolved around the collective challenges we face, how we can solve them, and what the latest technical innovations can do to help us tell bigger and better stories with greater efficiency. The key takeaways for the 2023 event had a decidedly futuristic slant.
Technology Is Evolving Faster Than We Can Learn It
Technology across the industry is evolving so quickly that it’s becoming difficult to keep up. What worked best on one production may benefit from a new/augmented technology or workflow on the next. This has historically been a unique issue for the virtual production market but now we’re seeing it seep into other areas of the industry.
A growing talent deficit in virtual production
The current market for virtual production faces a challenge of a growing talent deficit compounded by the requirement of prior experience for job opportunities. Our Pixotope Education Program for universities and higher education is working to address this issue by helping beginners master virtual production skills, thereby enabling them to become certified specialists and enter the market with confidence.
While the pace of technology evolution is a contributing factor, the decrease in entry-level positions in media and entertainment also impacts the talent deficit. Through its education program, Pixotope aims to equip educational establishments with the to the tools and connections they need to give aspiring professionals the experience and network needed to succeed in the dynamic world of virtual production.
AI is Here to Stay
Scary? Yes. Useful? Also yes. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are incredibly powerful tools for automating menial, time-consuming tasks like distribution versioning and localization, especially for work related to language subs and dubs. When it comes to content-based localization (think of cultural differences that vary from geo to geo like preferred brands, food choices, street signs, etc.), virtual production techniques paired with AI has the potential to make this process easier and faster.
AI and ML also make it possible for new technologies and workflows to take flight (no pun intended), like Pixotope Fly which leverages AI and computer vision for markerless TTL drone camera tracking for AR elements.
In the context of extended reality (XR) use cases, we’re able to leverage AI-based computer vision technology to enhance efficiency and reduce complexity. Pixotope XR Edition achieves this with tools like Digital Twin, which reduces the setup time needed for XR volumes by automating the creation of an exact virtual copy of the physical LED volume. Pixotope XR Edition also features automated color matching to ensure that the color captured “in camera”, once passed through the LED volume and camera sensors, is as close to what was intended as possible. It also ensures that any augmented reality effects or set extensions exactly match the in-camera FXs.
Similarly, GhostTrack leverages these same technologies to “see” and identify natural markers (hard edges and corners) and hidden coded markers in the LED volume itself in studio environments and was used for Dota 2 International.
The Industry Has Its Head In The Cloud
No surprise here, but the cloud was everywhere at HPA. We know it’s useful for archive management, remote workflows, and just overall ease of connection for remote teams and assets. But it’s also incredibly useful for cloud licensing schemes (like ours) which provides more flexibility for our customers to scale operations up and down as needed. Not to mention, our full virtual production cloud workflow means that we can do virtual graphics and tracking in the cloud. This allows users to send video up into the cloud, track it, composite it, and then either stream it straight from the c
loud or pull it back down again.
Sustainability in Film Technology
There was some hum-buggery about the impact a green media and entertainment industry would have on the world. We’re not the worst offenders and are a comparatively small market, so does it even matter if we’re “green”? We say yes - if we hold ourselves accountable, hopefully, other industries will follow suit.
As we’ve discussed previously, virtual production (and XR in particular) solutions have the potential to help the industry become more sustainable. Virtual environments, sets, props, and hardware consolidation can go a long way in reducing waste, travel emissions, and energy consumption. After all, virtual sets can be reused endlessly without wear and tear, and a fraction of the personnel is required to scan a location for digital rendering vs. flying everyone out for an on-location shoot. However, it must be an industry-wide (and further, worldwide) effort to make significant progress.
Get Support with Implementing Virtual Production and Training Your Team
At HPA, virtual production was named one of the top 20 media and entertainment trends. While it can't solve all the industry's challenges, it can (and already has) become even more impactful when combined with other innovations like AI/ML.
Missed us at HPA Tech Retreat? Chat with us any time about how we can help you implement virtual production workflows or train your team, we have the expertise to assist you.
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