Why now is the perfect time to jump into Virtual Production

Dr. Jodi Nelson-Tabor
8 min readAug 18, 2023
Final Pixel Academy @180 The Strand in London
Final Pixel Academy @180 The Strand in London

Why should you learn about and get upskilled in virtual production (VP)? What are the key benefits? How can it help you get a job now? What skills do you need?

The past few years have seen the emergence and evolution of virtual production methods used across many industry sectors. The ramping up of virtual production in practice, by using new tools, faster tech adoption, and R&D activities have all come about in the name of finding better efficiencies for content creation. But, while the barriers to VP are still high, there are many opportunities and reasons why, now is the perfect time to jump into virtual production.

Regardless of your current role in the decision supply chain, creative or technical specialism, level of industry experience, or whether you have local access (or not!), there is plenty of room for you to take part in this exciting and life-changing moment in the entertainment industry if you put in the time and energy it takes. And while VP isn’t the solution to every challenge or even the go-to option for every project, it can overcome a tremendous amount of pinch points where current challenges must be overcome.

Final Pixel Virtual Production
Final Pixel Virtual Production

If we, as a growing VP community of creative innovators, are to normalise and democratise more efficient workflows, bring about faster tech adoption and integrate these new practices into our production processes, it’s important we start with education.

Get your FREE Final Pixel Virtual Production Guide

To understand the benefits and drawbacks of the VP process, it’s important to understand not only what virtual production is, but also how it best serves your creative project. And while there are too many technology options that apply to certain use cases to go into here, the aim is to adopt a concept that is agnostic to the many tools available and to be flexible.

Right tool, right team for the right project.

That is using any tool available, or even a combination of tools, depending upon your creative vision, budget, and time allocation, will be a strategic way forward to apply successful virtual production techniques to your project. But with so many solutions on the market, and many types of creative projects being produced — where to start? And while we are still in the wild west of vp proficiencies, how can we normalise these production practices?

Image Source: https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/media/virtual-production-reference-architecture-with-epic-games-unreal-engine/
Image Source: https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/media/virtual-production-reference-architecture-with-epic-games-unreal-engine/

I believe it is education and training that will lead to its scalability — without limitations or barriers, by building solid frameworks around learning pathways, that align with best practices and fulfill the needs of the job roles in demand now. Adopting the flexibility needed to continually adapt and learn new technologies and workflows that will continually improve the production efficiencies of tomorrow.

Check out Final Pixel Academy’s Current Virtual Production Course Offerings

As more and more tools come onto the market to help solve these pinch points, it is the creatives who will drive change through adaptive innovation and education, training, and experiential learning — this is the route to innovation.

By understanding our current landscape, given the challenges of instability, technology adoption, industry strikes, cost of living crisis, and general insecurities and uncertainties…education, upskilling, and training for VP job roles are not only a sound investment in your future, but it also opens doors to a wider community of support, networks, and opportunities that can only be tapped through participation.

Be it VP demos, open days, taster sessions, workshops, online webinars, or conferences — these are all great ways to step into the world of VP and meet other like-minded creatives and technologists currently working in the field today.

Once you have a keen understanding of at least the key technologies and drivers of these novel workflows, and how they offer numerous advantages, the next steps are to develop a keen mindset of curiosity, adaptability, and resourcefulness. Understanding where your interests lie, next you need to know where the key skills gaps are and how these opportunities best align with your experiences and career objectives.

Source Image: Unreal Engine Virtual Production Field Guide
Source Image: Unreal Engine Virtual Production Field Guide

Then it’s time to commit to a training and upskilling plan. There are numerous pathways to pursue; from full-blown university degrees to industry training programs both on-set and online from reputable organisations. The best ones are on the front line, every day, living and breathing virtual production — i.e., Final Pixel and Worldbuilders.

Not only creating content across varying campaigns with clients, which require multiple skillsets, talent pools, and creatively applied technologies but also working with a wide range of industry partners and vendors who are at the bleeding edge of technology. We are constantly refining VP workflows and applying new tools and technology in R&D. We are delivering this expertise as embedded, professional training and experiential learning through Final Pixel Academy, which can be positively life-changing; providing students with opportunities to create magic, develop new careers, or reinvigorate current ones.

Unreal Engine is a key technology and core to learning Virtual Production
Unreal Engine is a key technology and core to learning Virtual Production

Here are several reasons why learning and upskilling in virtual production can offer numerous advantages:

  1. Growing Industry Demand: With movies, games, and virtual events increasingly relying on virtual production techniques, there’s a rising demand for skilled professionals in this field.
  2. Cost-Effective Production: Virtual production can save on costs related to physical sets, location shoots, and post-production adjustments. This makes it attractive to producers and studios.
  3. Real-time Feedback: Directors and designers can see the final visual effects in real-time, allowing immediate creative decisions and changes.
  4. Flexibility: Virtual sets allow for quick changes and adaptability, providing creative freedom.
  5. Technological Advancements: With tools like Unreal Engine leading the charge, technology in virtual production is advancing rapidly. Being skilled in the latest tools can set you apart in the job market.
  6. Sustainability: Using virtual environments can reduce the environmental impact of physical sets, making productions more sustainable.

How Can Learning Virtual Production and Specific VP Roles Help You Get a Job/Shift Careers?

Source Image: https://www.storyfutures.com/news/storyfutures-launches-virtual-production-skills-report-2023
Source Image: https://www.storyfutures.com/news/storyfutures-launches-virtual-production-skills-report-2023

Community:

Seeking a supportive VP community and surrounding yourself with like-minded creatives and technologists who are also currently riding this wave of innovation and change, will provide you with much-needed support, guidance, and encouragement.

Opportunities:

Our growing VP community will also provide you with opportunities that might open doors and not be previously realised, such as new job opportunities, collaborations, and learning opportunities, which can allow you to hone your craft, stay on top of emerging technologies and strengthen your portfolio. All of these things will enable you to be ready to seize opportunities when they arise.

“Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity”

The will to win is nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.

Here are 3 reasons why:

  1. Diverse Opportunities: Virtual production skills can be applied in film, television, gaming, live events, and even in architectural visualisation.
  2. Stand Out: Being skilled in cutting-edge technology will make your resume/cv stand out from the crowd.
  3. Future-Proof: As technology continues to evolve, having a skill set in virtual production can help ensure job security.

What VP Skills are Needed?

Final Pixel Virtual Production Technical Director, James Codling
Final Pixel Virtual Production Technical Director, James Codling

All specialist roles across all departments working in film, tv, broadcast, and advertising need to be upskilled in VP. But as there is a breadth of knowledge and an infinite amount of new tools and technologies, applications, and insights across the board to learn, digest and apply — it’s very easy to get a case of overwhelm and give up before you even begin.

Final Pixel Academy students at the SMPTE Greatest Showman Event
Final Pixel Academy students at the SMPTE The Biggest Virtual Production Show 2023

The best way to start is to get a strong Introduction to Virtual Production which will provide you with a core foundation and strategic overview of the VP landscape, industry practices, and key technologies which power new workflows and impact how best to collaborate and make decisions, all which impact the final output.

SMPTE The Biggest Virtual Production Show 2023
Final Pixel Academy students supporting professional HODs at the SMPTE The Biggest Virtual Production Show 2023

Next, you will want to dive into specialist training that aligns with your interests, specialism, and career objectives. Understanding what roles comprise an OSVP (on-set virtual production) team, as well as having the skills needed to successfully carry out that role — as well as additionally understanding other crew responsibilities will enable you to position yourself and be in demand.

OSVP Teams can vary across projects
OSVP Teams can vary across projects

Regardless of your desired role, these are 5 key skills that you must adopt when learning both hard and human/soft VP skills, which will help you be successful for a long-career trajectory, no matter how many disruptive technologies come along.

  1. Technical Proficiency: A deep understanding of virtual production tools, such as Unreal Engine, is vital.
  2. Artistic Vision: Being able to visualise scenes and understand lighting, composition, and design is crucial.
  3. Problem-Solving: With technology, issues inevitably arise. Being able to troubleshoot and problem-solve is essential.
  4. Collaboration: Virtual production often involves working closely with a team of artists, designers, and technicians. Being a team player is crucial.
  5. Adaptability: With rapid technological changes, professionals need to be adaptable and always willing to learn.
Final Pixel on-set @Garden Studios for SMPTE The Biggest Virtual Production Show 2023
Final Pixel on-set @Garden Studios for SMPTE The Biggest Virtual Production Show 2023

Considering the momentum of the industry and the benefits of virtual production, investing time to upskill is a strategic move for anyone interested in media and entertainment careers.

Check out Final Pixel Academy to meet your virtual production training needs. We offer a variety of VP training across specialist roles that are available live, online with expert instructors, on-demand, on-set on a VP stage, and in hybrid delivery environments.

Get your FREE Final Pixel Virtual Production Guide

Dr Jodi Nelson-Tabor is the Business Development & Training Manager for Final Pixel Academy. Her mission is helping to build robust talent pipelines for Virtual Production worldwide. @JodiNelson-Tabor

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Dr. Jodi Nelson-Tabor

Dr Jodi Nelson-Tabor is the Business Development and Training Manager for Final Pixel.