The first edition of the Future of Film festival took place a few days ago at the BFI in London. There were keynotes by Alex McDowell (Creative Director on Minority Report) and Tim Webber from Framestore. One of the topics that kept coming up throughout the talks is the challenge of content diversity and how technology can enable stories that couldn’t be told before.
The film business is like any form of product-market fit: past successes are benchmarks and because budgets are so high little risk is taken, resulting in products that rarely differentiate or are just iterations of previous products.
Making movies is still very expensive, even though Computer Generated Images can enable one to make a movie without the need for actors, tools require learning and experience which is costly. If only the major studios (Universal, 20th century Fox, Disney, etc…) can afford to make a movie then only these guys have control over the content we consume.
So what are the possible solutions to avoid the major studios' dictatorship?
Technology can empower storytellers
One of the points developed by Tim Webber during his keynote at the Future of film was that the advance of technology enables stories that couldn’t be told before. For example, the movie Gravity was only possible by making the entire movie in Virtual Production and then using LED screens to capture actor performances with accurate lighting.
As these technologies become easier to use and cheaper, storytellers around the world will be empowered to pioneer new stories.
Virtual Production, which enables storytellers to create a movie with essentially virtual resources, at low cost, failing-early and fast save money and time later on in production.
Accessible real-time rendering technologies are already here with Unreal Engine and Unity Engine. Input technology, which is the interfaces with which we interact with the digital has been restricted to keyboard and mouse for the past 50 years. Virtual Reality technology is becoming drastically more accessible (price and ease of use). At the Future of Film, Double Negative was demoing their Virtual Reality scouting tool which enables film directors to go on set virtually and test things, failing and learning early on in the process.
Other Virtual Production methods make use of Augmented Reality technology, like Unreal Virtual camera plugin:
Most of these examples are making use of available technology in our phones for example. One technology that has specifically been developed for virtual production is Kodama’s XR-mouse which enables manipulation of the digital through tangible proxy objects “reducing the barriers between imagination and creation”:
It goes without saying that streaming platforms like Youtube have already started to give a voice to independent creators with limited or no budget, and thanks to that, we’ve already seen many new media formats that are thriving.
So with new 3D inputs making it intuitive and more accessible to create in 3D, will the streaming revolution phenomenon happen to the industry of Animated films?
In a future where we could instantly transform our imagination into high-quality movies by just snapping our fingers? Then anyone would have the freedom to share their unique vision and story!
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