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Is Virtual Production the next big thing in filmmaking?

By Danny Kelly

21 October 2020

One of the joys of filmmaking is getting to experiment with the ever-evolving technology at our fingertips. Innovation is at the core of what we teach at MetFilm School, which is why we were thrilled to collaborate with a team of industry professionals in August to test one of film & TV’s most exciting new inventions: Virtual Production.

In this blog, MetFilm Director, Jonny Persey, explains the wonders of Virtual Production and the recent shoot which included 18 MetFilm School students, spanning our undergraduate, postgraduate and short courses

Ever since 1895 when the first film was shown to a beguiled French audience, ground-breaking inventions have opened up new worlds of possibility to successive generations of filmmakers, each in turn re-inventing the medium for cinema goers and television addicts – sound, technicolour, cinemascope, performance capture – to name but a few.

The invention of Virtual Production is a timely new addition to the producer’s toolbox – and it’s just possible that it will go down in history as the next big re-invention in cinema. The technique, used on Disney’s The Mandalorian (behind-the-scenes), involves shooting a scene against a massive photo-real high definition LED wall. Actors can be placed in a simple set in front of a computer-generated background so that it looks and feels like a genuine environment, but in a studio.

Unlike with green screen, the background can move with the camera, and the actors do not have to imagine the place they are in – they can feel it. It means that you can shoot scenes anywhere in the world, creating different weather conditions, and move seamlessly from one to the other, all within one studio. It’s faster, more pragmatic, and cheaper, and if used smartly, can be better than what was possible just a few months ago. Even when there isn’t a pandemic, it changes the definition of possible.

Virtual Production Promo

A few weeks ago, MetFilm School teamed up with Arts Alliance, Quite Brilliant, and Procam to shoot this rather brilliant virtual production promo…

The film was directed by Nick Jones, together with a team of MetFilm School students and graduates. Nick said of his team: “they were absolutely brilliant, couldn’t have been better. Diligent, professional, hard-working, move incredibly quickly and perfectly, like they had done it 100 times before, didn’t put a foot wrong. It wasn’t like they were students at all.”

As our partner on the project, Thomas Høegh of Arts Alliance, and co-founder of MetFilm School, said: “this is the future of filmmaking and a collaboration between MetFilm School and Arts Alliance was the natural way to learn first-hand, about how virtual production can be relevant for broader production ambition, in both the studio and independent sectors.”

I’m delighted with our involvement in this project, ridiculously proud of what our students and graduates have done, and excited about we can do with virtual production as a producer and an educator – watch this space for more soon!

Jonny Persey
Director, MetFilm School

Finally, check out this behind-the-scenes video from the production, shot by current BA Content, Media & Film Production – Screenspace student, Sam Kemp!

Go behind the scenes of Virtual Production with MetFilm School