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Virtual Production Training

Posted on Apr 20, 2024 by Samara Husbands

Speaking volumes

The companies offering virtual production training to the next gen of filmmakers

MARS Academy

MARS Academy, based on-site in MARS Volume’s own LED volume, offers virtual production and in-camera VFX training – taught by working VP professionals – to university students and creative professionals.

A one-stop shop for all things VP, the Academy provides hands-on training that build skills and confidence.

MARS Academy’s curriculum is designed by VP supervisors and LED stage operators, overseen by University of Arts London, guided by Epic Games and ILM and endorsed by ScreenSkills.

New for 2024, upcoming courses include virtual production 101, producer VP essentials, VFX artists on set, VP for camera & lighting, and unifying VAD & art department for virtual production.

These can be tailored to an organisation’s specific needs.

The Academy’s aim is to evolve with the times and tech, staying relevant as VP continues to change; it looks to address critical skills gaps in the film and high-end TV industry.

For organisations like networks and studios, MARS Academy can curate a bespoke course that speaks directly to a particular business objective.

Similarly, it’s suited for inclusion as a one-off module in a university curriculum, appealing to film, media, art and design students. 

Held in MARS Volume’s VP studio, its practical, real-world setting provides transferable skills that can’t be taught in a traditional classroom.

The Academy announces new courses regularly; they fill up quickly on a first-come, first-serve basis.

marsvolume.com/academy

Disguise VP Accelerator 

VP training courses don’t come more highly recommended than the Disguise Accelerator – a programme truly making an impact in upskilling the next generation of filmmakers.

Designed to take learners from total novice to VP expert, participants enjoy plenty of in-flight time with experts on a real VP set, and get the chance to connect with industry professionals; Disguise has Accelerators in the US, UK, Spain and Asia, with plans afoot to expand further. 

National Film and Television School

The National Film and Television School (NFTS) offers a VP certificate programme, a part-time, six-month course combining training in VR, VFX, CGI, game engines and more. Students come from a range of creative and technical backgrounds, including games design, graphic design, 3D animation, VFX and cinematography: the course suits anyone interested in VP.

The NFTS aims to provide accessible training, particularly to those from under-represented backgrounds in the production industries. As such, 12 students can receive a 75% scholarship thanks to funding support from Screen Scotland. To apply, applicants should have at least two years of screen industry experience.

nfts.co.uk/virtual-production

ROE Academy

Delivered by ROE Visual, market leaders in LED technology, the ROE Academy offers an invaluable learning platform for enthusiasts and professionals to gather and learn.

With a particular focus on ROE Visual’s own LED products, the course includes technical instruction from an in-house ROE expert as well as practical, hands-on learning, upskilling participants in LED installation, troubleshooting and processing – which are all key aspects of VP.

Available in various locations around the globe, including the UK, the US and the Netherlands, ROE Academy is geared towards existing LED technicians, engineers and other video and lighting creatives, though there’s something in it for everyone – experienced or not, freelance or full-time.

ROE Academy encourages its attendees to share their own expertise, from helpful use cases to on-the-job tips.

Throughout the workshop, participants can get up close and personal with ROE Visual’s innovative LED products, including the industry-recognised Black Pearl panels – 100,000 of which have been used in VP projects worldwide.

Other leading products include the Carbon, Ruby, Black Marble and Diamond lines, which boast a range of benefits – from creating floors and multi-level stages to adding curvature, hanging and stacking.

No matter the LED panel or VP scenario, ROE Academy urges attendees to refresh and expand upon their skills, learn new ones and make professional connections in the process.

Courses are offered both on and offline and are marked as either ‘essential’ or ‘advanced’, depending on experience.

ScreenSkills

ScreenSkills is an industry-led organisation offering learning, training and funding opportunities to those in film, TV, VFX, animation and gaming. A go-to resource for professional development, ScreenSkills’ dedicated VP page includes career advice, case studies and programmes for interested, eligible freelancers.

Among these resources are ‘virtual production competencies’, a how-to guide separated by production department; ‘making virtual production real: a beginner’s guide’, a 50-minute video presentation by Netflix’s VP manager, Matt Rank; and a range of real-world examples and first-hand accounts of VP in action.

screenskills.com/developing-your-career/virtual-production

Final Pixel Academy

A renowned learning hub, Final Pixel Academy is run by VP practitioners with a wealth of knowledge about the latest tools and trends. As well as in-person training, there are a various online courses, meaning you can upskill from the comfort of your own home.

Current offerings include virtual production for DOPs, colour management for VP (hosted at Sony Pinewood) and introduction to Unreal Engine. 

Tisch Virtual Production Degree

New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts has introduced a new master’s degree in virtual production.

The intensive one-year course, based at NYU’s Martin Scorsese Virtual Production Center, promises to combine ‘technology, science and creativity to advance the art of storytelling’. 

The Martin Scorsese Center – a 45,000 sq ft facility based in Brooklyn’s Industry City – includes an LED volume stage designed by Lux Machina Consulting, plus two standard stages, post-production labs, two television studios and several broadcast control rooms.

Students on the programme will enjoy hands-on training, providing them with real-world production experience and preparing them for the constantly evolving industry.

The degree opens in autumn 2024.

tisch.nyu.edu/virtual-production

CSC leading VP learning in Canada

Canada took another stride forward in VP education with the Canadian Society of Cinematographers’ (CSC) groundbreaking recent Virtual Reality Production Masterclass in Vancouver.

This unique event, the only one of its kind in North America, showcased top-tier cinematographers from around the world as participants and auditors, offering a first-hand look at revolutionary virtual reality production technology and giving crucial advice on making the leap from traditional to VP – and in combining the two forms.

Led by industry experts like Philip Lanyon, DOP on renowned productions including Star Trek: Picard and Discovery, the masterclass aimed to provide a space to learn from the best in the business, imbuing filmmakers with the confidence to thrive in the sector.

Hosted by Versatile Studios (home to the largest seamless LED wall in North America) and Peacemaker Studios, the course covered a wide array of VP options, leveraging the cutting-edge facilities and equipment available. “VP is the biggest change in our industry since we converted from analogue to digital,” commented Lanyon. “And we want Canadian cinematographers to be a driving force in training to provide the skilled talent necessary for us to shine even brighter.”

Sponsors including ARRI, Creamsource Lighting and IATSE 669 underscore the collaborative effort driving Canada’s ascent in VP education. 

This feature was first published in the April 2024 issue of Definition.

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