#Showbiz: Boosting virtual production skills

VIRTUAL production is fast gaining in popularity in the media industry around the world. It combines physical and virtual filmmaking methods to produce cutting-edge media.

Many would have seen this technique used in films such as "The Mandalorian", "Avengers: Endgame" and "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom".

Virtual production enables creative teams to use real-time 3D or game engines to create photorealistic sets and display them on large LED walls behind physical sets using the real-time rendering capabilities of the engines.

The cameras are synced with the game engines for enhanced realism and depth of perspective.

This form of production, which saves time, picked up steam during the pandemic.

There are many benefits of virtual production, and the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) wants to capitalise on the innovation.

It supports the recent partnership between Iskandar Malaysia Studios (IMS) in Johor and Singaporean creative media tech company, Oceanus Media Global (OMG), to develop the technical expertise for this new method in Malaysia.

Finas chief executive officer Datuk Azmir Saifuddin Mutalib said the effort would contribute to the development of local human capital and creative skills of young talent.

"We see this collaboration between IMS and OMG as an investment in virtual production technology to boost the local film industry."

He believed that IMS needed the latest tech to attract more producers to incorporate virtual production into their work.

"At least there is one studio that can provide this service to the sector here at IMS," he said.

IMS and OMG inked a memorandum of understandign at the Asia TV Forum & Market in Singapore this month. Present was Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, Tan Kiat How.

Azmir said the partnership was crucial to ensuring that local productions could move in tandem with the latest technology in the next few years.

"From the production aspect, there are a few things that we are still unable to achieve. This includes not having enough experience in the development of technology.

"Perhaps filmmakers have yet to use virtual production due to budget restraints.

"So with this partnership, there will be training for programmes to nurture local talent with more insight and expertise in virtual production."

Azmir said local productions could use the method in their work in one to two years.

He added that the application of this technology, from virtual production to artificial intelligence (AI), was key to creating more quality work.

"Whether it's already being used or still at the testing level, we can't stop using the technology in the future. So we have to be ready to head in that direction.

"Finas welcomes the efforts to use virtual production in the local film community. We also have plans to present a virtual production in the near future."

Azmir added that Finas would moot this idea to all local industry players and encourage them to collaborate with other parties, including institutes of higher learning.

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