Virtual Production to Become Industry Norm by 2026, Experts Predict

virtual production
(Image credit: Disney)

The future of production is virtual, according to the annual Nostradamus report from analyst Johanna Koljonen, with the process expected to become the norm in the industry over the next five years.

Currently, the Nostradamus report details, threshold for hands-on experience with virtual production is low, with tools becoming more and more accessible. Installations that currently require a significant investment will also lower in price over time.

Also impacting virtual production, according to Koljonen, is the shifting of production pipelines. She says that current post-production processes are moving into pre-production. In addition, similar production processes will converge different formats and media, creating new opportunities for multiplatform storytelling, creative talent and creative technology skill sets.

“The term Virtual Production covers a real range of applications from previsualization and fully CG animated projects to the LED-wall in-camera visual effects made famous by ‘The Mandalorian,’” said Alex Stolz, Future of Film. “What’s exciting is that it is already possible for filmmakers to use this technology, just not necessarily yet in a huge professional studio volume. There’s a knowledge gap and there’s an education gap, but there’s not an accessibility issue—with the underlying game engine tools like Unreal Engine available for free.”

Virtual production is not limited to big productions like “The Mandalorian,” Koljonen points out. Virtual production techniques are already being used in broadcasting, particularly in news studios.

The pandemic has helped accelerate some of these trends as virtual production has provided an alternative method in these times.

The Nostradamus report also forecasted that in five years “all ‘TV’ will be streaming first, with video on demand understood as the standard viewing option and linear channels the specialized alternative.” As a result, household SVOD spending will become even bigger.

The full 2021 Nostradamus Report is available from the Göteborg Film Festival.