Our association board member,Christopher Chen, visited TOKYO DESIGN TECHNOLOGY CENTER (TDTC). He discussed the 48-hour virtual production held in May this year with the participating students.
The report on the visit is available here.
※An English translation of the report is also available below.Please use for reference only.
First, we had an exchange of opinions with Mr. Yoshito Ando, the CG education advisor at our school, and discussed the current situation in the world of virtual production. We also talked about the current state of CG and film education in Japan compared to the global scenario. We are grateful to have this opportunity to have a dialogue with students who participated in the contest.
Student: What activities does the Asia Virtual Human Association engage in?
Christopher: The virtual production industry is currently facing a significant shortage of talent. Existing creators in the industry still don't fully understand the complete process of virtual production. That's why I hope students who are specializing in CG and film can learn the process of virtual production and enter the industry. We believe that such information needs to be disseminated to many schools worldwide.
As part of our activities, one is organizing contests. The contest that TECH.C participated in is the "48H Virtual Production Contest."
The second activity is conducting virtual production workshops. This year, we held 12-hour workshops in Kaohsiung, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, and four other locations. Participants create a one-minute script in the project file and use the remaining time to produce the video. The workshops aim to help students learn the process of virtual production, gain confidence, and participate in contests. We are planning to hold a 12-hour workshop in Tokyo as well.
Student: I would like to participate in the workshop. By the way, how extensively is virtual production technology used in the industry?
Christopher: New virtual production studios are being built worldwide using cutting-edge technology. There is a strong trend in the industry to use the latest technology. The industry is always busy, and with new projects coming in, they are continually exploring and adopting new technologies.
Student: That's interesting. I'm very interested in new technologies. Christopher-san, what changes do you expect virtual production to bring to the industry globally?
Christopher: I believe that outside of movies, new technologies will be applied more and more. (This may be a long-term and personal view) It may be only a matter of time before all existing video productions become virtual productions
Recently, my company (Zukunft Works) participated in a manga exhibition in Taipei. When presenting ordinary manga content to visitors, just projecting it with a projector isn't engaging enough. Therefore, we used three LED panels to display the content behind, creating a space where visitors could interact with the moving content. After that, we cut the moving content into video clips and handed them to the visitors as an introduction. In three days, 100,000 people attended, and we handed out 800 videos. In such work, manual labor is not sufficient; coding is necessary. So, although this may deviate a bit from the question, in the future, it's important for people to be able to code, not just focus on art. Understanding both technology and art (design) is crucial. Technical artists will become increasingly important.
Student: The importance of coding is something I felt strongly during this contest. We, the students who participated in this "1st World Virtual Production Contest," would like to hear your thoughts on our work.
Christopher: Your work received an award, and there are many good aspects to it. Creating that work within the constraints of limited equipment is impressive. If there's one thing, the story still has some flat parts, so it could have been refined a bit more. Did you create a storyboard for this?
Student: We did create one, but we spent quite a bit of time thinking about the story. With only 48 hours and three people dividing tasks while developing the story, we had to prioritize building assets for the final firefly scene. As a result, we were a bit rushed, and we feel we didn't have enough time to refine the story.
Christopher: I see. For example, at Pixar, storyboarding takes about 2 to 3 years. In a contest like this, the goal is not to create a fantastic story for this contest but to take the first step towards creating a great story and focus on creating previsualization. Previsualization means creating a simple animation before making a movie. I think your work is more like a pitch-based loop. So, instead of seeing this contest as the end, I encourage you to see it as a starting point. Even after the contest, work with your classmates on how to improve the story further. Use this contest not as an endpoint but as a starting point.
Student: This is the beginning, then. We'll do our best!
Christopher: This time, out of 56 teams, 10 teams couldn't complete their works. I heard from a teacher at a school in the UK that one team had a fight within the team. Even though classmates are currently all friends, when you enter a company, you may have to work with people in different positions, nationalities, and backgrounds. Especially in virtual production, which is a skill that can be used globally, it's essential to be aware of working with people of different profiles. That's why "completion" itself is a wonderful thing!
Student: Thank you. What technical skills and knowledge should students learn during their student days?
Christopher: I hope students will read books and study a lot. Why? Because I have doubts about whether people really watch the content when they casually scroll through on their smartphones. Occasionally, it's good to slow down a bit, study from books, and engage your brain. Smartphones can only provide knowledge based on what you search for, but with books, you might encounter information accidentally by going to a bookstore.
Student: That's true. I've developed a habit of watching things on my smartphone, so I'll make an effort to read books. As the next question, are there ways for students to easily use virtual production technology to create videos?
Christopher: To improve, we need to develop new software. For example, during the Taiwan elections last year, the information for each region, which used to be in 2D graphics, was real-time 3D graphics using Unreal Engine. We developed a software called "CamVerse Studio" for this purpose. In the future, all video productions will become virtual productions, so there is a need for easy-to-use tools for everyone.
Student: Thank you. Finally, do you have a message for students aspiring to enter this industry?
Christopher: Yes, one thing I want to say is that just like English is the common language worldwide, in our industry, it's virtual production. Now, whether in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, or anywhere else, everyone is talking about the same things. How to handle assets, camera tracking, lighting, etc. Because the environment is the same everywhere. However, communication in English is essential, so it's necessary to study a little. If you can do that, students who can handle virtual production will be able to work worldwide in the future. Such opportunities are more significant than learning any specific technology.
Asian Virtual Human Association