Over the past few decades, the entertainment industry has seen rapid change. Technological and digital advancements have transformed how films and TV shows are produced, distributed, and consumed.
Disruption in the entertainment business is rampant and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic only accelerated the industry’s evolution.

But which technological disruptors are worth taking note of?

The usual suspects include virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI), but there’s a lot more to unwrap. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive to find out more about the entertainment industry’s agents of change.

 

Virtual reality

Virtual reality has paved the way for transformative storytelling; giving audiences the opportunity to experience immersive entertainment. If you think the equipment for shooting footage for VR might be out of reach for filmmakers with a modest budget, think again.

While a high-end camera capable of capturing 3D images with accurate measurements to reproduce a full VR version of it may cost around $3,000, prices actually start around $100 for regular 3D & 360 VR cameras.

Apart from shooting VR footage, the most exciting prospect is creating full-fledged virtual worlds that people can explore. To experience VR, viewers can collect gear and explore a particular scene or character from different vantage points. Henry is an early example of this idea in action.

 

Opportunities for filmmakers:

  • Filmmakers could create more advanced narratives for viewers. For example, viewers get to experience multiple plot-lines within a fixed film’s timeline.
  • Perhaps a more immersive VR version of Bandersnatch?

Virtual production

Video game engines, such as Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, are at the helm of virtual production. Although this technology is picking up speed now, it’s been around for a while.

For Avatar (2009), James Cameron took advantage of a virtual camera system to show the actors’ virtual doppelgangers within digital environments in real-time. This new way of filming relies on 4K screens, interactive footage, and connected lighting supported with real-time rendering.

Virtual world-building, performance capture, and the ability to direct and adjust scenes in the virtual space have given creatives unprecedented freedom.

Here’s how virtual production at Unreal Engine was used to bring The Mandalorian to life.

 

Opportunities for filmmakers:

  • Virtual production gives you final-quality pixels on set. This means the film will spend less time in post-production.
  • Budget constraints no longer mean compromising on locations because virtual world-building can transport your entire cast wherever you’d like.
  • Costume designing could go digital with VR ensembles.

Augmented reality

The invention of chroma key technology in the 1930s allowed filmmakers to add backgrounds and CG to film using green screens. Though useful, its prevalence became a creative crutch and pushed major creative decisions down to post-production. And if you think about it, being surrounded by a sea of green screens probably isn’t fun for the cast and crew either.

In fact, this frustrated Sir Ian McKellen so much that he almost quit The Hobbit! To everyone who can relate to Gandalf, take solace in the fact that augmented reality could make VFX much more exciting.
Think about it, a film set augmented with CG elements in real-time using parallax opens boundless opportunities for production designers, directors, and actors.

Here’s an example of how a channel used augmented reality to report on the weather.

 

Opportunities for filmmakers:

  • Production designers can have a field day with augmented reality in terms of designing sets.
  • Additionally, the ability to visualize the set and look at pre-rendered versions of the environment can allow actors and directors to take better creative and performance-based decisions.

 

Autonomous drone cameras

Reaching new heights, autonomous drones can double as film directors allowing filmmakers to push the boundaries of cinematography.

As this technology advances, we could witness sentient drones with built-in knowledge that have the ability to apply and innovate filmmaking techniques.

 

Opportunities for filmmakers:

  • Can reduce the need for helicopters and cranes.
  • Give cinematographers the ability to film scenes in unique and intimate ways.

3D printing

3D printing is already in use for creating lightweight props and detailed costumes.

The main advantage 3D printers bring is accuracy and reproducibility.

The Oscar-winning costumes in Black Panther included 3D printed ensembles.

The fact that a designer can create one design and print out multiple copies has clear benefits if you need to dress an army.

 

Opportunities for filmmakers:

  • Lightweight prop designs.
  • Ability to create multiple copies of props or outfits with ease.

Artificial intelligence

You may think that artificial intelligence doesn’t belong in creative industries like entertainment and film, but you’d be wrong.

AI can play a defining role in various stages of production. It’s already being used in post-production to take on the challenging task of editing and color-correcting the film.

Here’s an example of footage from the 1940’s that was upgraded using the AI-powered software DeOldify.

But that’s not all AI can do. Now, it can also help in the decision–making phases of filmmaking.

Early in 2020, Warner Brothers signed on Cinelytic to use its AI-driven project management system and analytics to make better decisions related to the film and TV programs at the greenlight stage.

The Studio’s move got the industry buzzing. Speculations and criticism surfaced about this new frontier of human-AI partnership and how it will impact creativity in the industry.

 

Opportunities for filmmakers:

Cinelytic’s system features can give an idea of what opportunities filmmakers can take advantage of with AI.

Here are a few:

  • Film analytics
  • Comparing and exploring cast and crew options
  • Distribution analytics
  • Budgeting
  • Forecasting income

Cloud-based production management tools

It takes an army to pull-off big-budget blockbusters, and managing a legion is no easy task.

Ambitions undertakings like these have been made possible due to cloud-based entertainment production management software.

Production schedules, casting calls, payroll, and finances can all be easily handled using a web-based application.

Revolution offers a suite of cloud-based entertainment production management applications to help producers streamline projects and keep everything on track.

 

Opportunities for filmmakers:

  • Organize massive productions and leave no room for confusion.
  • Multiple app integrations for smooth project monitoring and management.
  • Keep your teams in sync at all times.

If you’d like to learn more about these solutions and services, contact us. We’d be happy to answer any questions.

That covers our lineup of the top technological disruptors in the entertainment business.

It’s easy to see that the film industry is undergoing a massive shift. It has done so for a millennium and advancements give creatives in the industry more room for experimentation and innovation.

What happens next is anybody’s guess. Could a day come when we start to see the rise of AI actors?

We’ll let your imagination run wild on this one.