ScreenSkills is to lead the screen industries and education in developing national standards for training in high-tech roles in virtual production, we announced today at a Department for International Trade (DIT) mission on the future of filmmaking in the UK.
The DIT and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are backing the move to ensure the UK is a global centre of excellence in the field.
Alex Hope, former joint managing director of the leading VFX studio DNEG and ScreenSkills’ vice-chair, will lead a steering group, to be supported by working groups, that is being established by the skills body to agree and share standards across industry and academia. The aim is to ensure the UK has all the expertise needed to maintain its status as a world-renowned centre for production.
Industry representatives who have already committed to this initiative include UK Research and Innovation, Epic Games, Ntropic, Sky Studios and UK Screen Alliance with leading educators in this subject, such as Bournemouth, Edinburgh Napier, Portsmouth and Ulster Universities as well as the NextGen Skills Academy, also contributing their expertise.
The adoption by film and television shows from Match of the Day to The Mandalorian of tech including real-time engines already used widely in games opens up new creative opportunities for production as well as the potential to improve environmental sustainability.
Building on the huge expansion of studio space currently under way across the whole of the UK, technological innovation is set to support continued recovery and growth that will require thousands of screen professionals from entry level apprentices and trainees to upskilled heads of department.
Minister for Creative Industries Caroline Dinenage said: "Virtual production relies on the latest technology and innovative talent to bring exciting new possibilities to life on our screens. Developing our world class screen workforce will help the UK's film and TV sectors build back better. The clear career standards set out by ScreenSkills will strengthen our skilled talent base and ensure the UK stays ahead of the creative curve."
Gerry Grimstone, Minister for Investment, said: “I am pleased to welcome ScreenSkills’ initiative to build a framework for skills development in virtual production, underpinning the UK’s efforts to become a global centre of excellence in this exciting new field.
“The Department for International Trade continues to work closely with international industry partners and businesses to support significant investments into the UK’s thriving creative industries, with over £100m of planned investments by international studios into virtual production technology in the UK already identified for 2021.”
ScreenSkills CEO Seetha Kumar, said: “As with developments in any new tech, it is critical to have national standards because we need a highly professional virtual production workforce, supported by high-quality training provision which is based on a common understanding of the skills needed.
“We want to help build knowledge and confidence about the expertise, what works and why, so that the UK remains at the forefront of innovation and has the right people to continue making great film and television.”
Seetha Kumar, who led the roll-out of HD in her former work at the BBC, is today speaking on a skills panel at The Future of Filmmaking in the UK: A Mission to the Epicentre of Virtual Production Innovation. It has been organised by the Department for International Trade and is being attended by businesses involved in all elements of the virtual production value chain – US- and UK-based – including production, VFX, hardware, software and studios.
The purpose of the national standards will be to ensure there is a common understanding and agreement across industry and academia as to the definition of virtual production, the job roles within it, and the skills that individuals need to have or attain in different roles and at different levels of seniority as its potential continues to evolve.