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With its ability to seamlessly merge the physical and digital realms, virtual production has revolutionised the way movies, television shows and video games are brought to life. This cutting-edge approach, once limited to big-budget Hollywood productions, is now accessible to Deakin film, TV and animation, and design students.
With the video post-production industry expected to grow strongly in Australia over the next five years to achieve more than $500 million in revenue, the prospects for virtual production are exciting and beneficial for local students.
Deakin Professor of Screen and Design Stefan Greuter says students will be able to use the virtual production technology to develop cutting-edge skills.
‘LED volume based virtual production is a technique that uses large LED screens to create immersive environments for filming movies, TV shows and other productions,’ he explains. ‘These screens display a 3D environment that responds to your movements and actions in real-time. This means that as you move around the room, the virtual environment changes to reflect your new position,’ he says.
The technology also be used for gamification projects, working with the same type of game engines used to create video games.
‘Game engines are used to create and render the virtual environment on the LED screens,’ Prof. Greuter explains. ‘They allow for real-time adjustments to the environment based on the movements of the actors and the camera. This means the director can make changes to the environment on the fly, adjusting the lighting, weather and other factors to create the perfect shot.’
Recent popular films that have utilised this technology include The Mandalorian and Jungle Cruise.
‘The result is a cinematic experience that looks and feels like it was shot on location but was actually filmed in a controlled environment using advanced technology,’ Prof. Greuter says.
Virtual production provides a broad range of job opportunities including roles as a technical director, LED engineer, video engineer, virtual camera operator, virtual production supervisor, visual effects supervisor and many more.
Deakin University alumni Jeon Patton, who completed a Bachelor of Film, TV and Animation in 2020, is a Virtual Production Stage Manager at NantStudios, a full-service production company that combines traditional, broadcast and virtual production stages. Every day Jeon gets to work with advanced technology and incorporate virtual production into traditional film.
‘I am tasked with the critical responsibility of overseeing the performance and maintenance of the advanced technologies and rigging systems utilised on our stages,’ Jeon explains.
‘This includes close collaboration with both our on-set technology and operations teams, as well as working directly with production crews during shoots to ensure their requirements are fully satisfied. One of my key focuses lies in seamlessly integrating virtual production technology into the traditional film pipeline.’
NantStudios is just one state-of-the-art production company with a presence in Melbourne. Based in Los Angeles, they’ve worked with names as big as Star Wars, Avengers, Westworld, Mercedes-Benz and Meta.
Through technology like virtual production, students have the ability to consider other job opportunities and careers outside of what they may originally have had in mind.
Deakin University Bachelor of Film, TV and Animation student Jasmine Lo says prior to undertaking an internship with Dreamscreen, she thought she knew exactly what role she wanted to pursue.
‘When I started this degree, I thought I just wanted to do animation, not the TV side of things but my internship really opened my eyes to see different pathways I could pursue,’ she says.
Jeon Patton agrees about the value of Deakin’s diverse range of educational opportunities and strong industry connections. While studying he was able to explore which part of the industry he wanted to specialise in.
‘Deakin offers such a diverse course education that ranges from theatre and drama acting to cinematography and foley, it really allows you to find what you’d like to pursue as a career post study. The university is also extremely well-connected and provides students with the opportunity to work on set and in environments that expand their industry connections and knowledge,’ he says.
Deakin also supports students in bringing their creative projects to life – building their skills, confidence and networks to pursue a creative career they love.
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