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The top trends shaping media and entertainment in 2021

June 10, 2021 in Industry | 7 min. read
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Although sudden and unexpected forces pressed pause on the global media and entertainment industry in 2020, the resiliency of studios and creators sparked new movements within the industry, allowing them to say “action” once again.

In our new interactive report “Top 2021 Trends in Media and Entertainment”, twenty industry experts reveal that even in the midst of a pandemic, the media and entertainment (M&E) business - from major studios to indie creators - pushed forth innovation and reassembled their resourcefulness and technology to ensure that millions of people globally could stay connected, informed and entertained. 

Innovations such as in virtual production, augmented reality, previsualization, remote workflows, and real-time pipelines have served to accelerate the rapid transmission to safer production sites, more creative experimentations, and entirely new ways of communicating and creating. 

Below, we share the views from four leaders across the M&E landscape, who explain the top trends in animation, AR/VR/XR/LBE, broadcast, and visual productions that are shaping the industry in 2021.

View the interactive report

Real-time production is revolutionizing traditional animation

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We anticipate that real-time animation, already widely used for previs and various other stages of production, will be more widely adopted for producing final animation in 2021. 

Although this production methodology is still in its infancy, we are already seeing bold moves in that direction; consider Windup, an award-winning animated film created entirely in Unity, just released this past January. 

Additionally, full performance capture in real-time, eliminating the long wait for rendering, will allow for a creative team to review every detail within seconds. Directors can make creative choices on the fly, as they would during live-action film production. 

Geppetto, Super 78’s real-time animation system, was built on the Unity game engine to power “interactive character” theme park attractions. But we’re already using Geppetto well outside of location-based entertainment.

-Tim Williams, Director of Research & Development: Interactive, Super 78

The rise of connected experiences meet the return of a hand-crafted look

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With the success of virtual concerts in 2020, studios and audiences will embrace the next generation of interactive real-time performances, even as real-world events re-emerge. In virtual festivals, sports, performances - audiences will feel more connected, by being a part of these unique, animated worlds. 

During this exciting animation renaissance, animators are experimenting with a different look and feel for their projects - one that feels more personal. 

Wolfwalkers and Klaus show the audience's love for hand-drawn animation. Sony Picture Animation’s Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse explored graphical comic book ink. Audiences feel they can reach out and touch the scrapbook world of Dreamworks’ Trolls and Netflix’s The Willoughbys or the paper cut-out world of Baobab’s Baba Yaga

First generation CG animated films today are starting to show their age. However, these real-world projects will stand the test of time. These new looks will excite artists and audiences alike.

-Maureen Fan, CEO, Baobab Studios

Remote production capabilities for a post-Covid ‘new normal’

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The media and entertainment world has shown remarkable resilience to the changes that the pandemic has brought to our lives. 

Most notably, it has accelerated digital transformation and compelled momentum towards moving to operational workflows that can be managed from remote locations. 

The benefits of remote production are significant, offering the possibility of reducing the cost of travel, logistics, and the requirement of physical space at a customer’s premises. This means that companies can offer to deploy bare-metal servers at their own premises, remotely connect operations teams, or offer a fully digital production in the cloud. 

With ongoing innovation, especially with an eye towards 5G connectivity and environmental benefits, 2021 will represent a significant milestone towards new remote production capabilities that may become the norm sooner than later.

-Benjamin Causse, SVP, Business Development & Account Management | Sport Experience, Deltatre

Deconstructing the M+E Production Model

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The traditional studio production model favors computer generated imagery as a post production process; while the art department, responsible for the physical build, starts on day one. Green screen is an established, well-understood technology that post people use to optimize the scene and overcome its shortcomings. 

But just walk onto a set with a LED video wall, driven by tools and processes only made possible with game engine technology, and you realize where we are headed: The physical and digital co-exist. 

We think studios will begin adopting pre-visualization initiatives directly into the creative process - allowing creative to take the written word, visualize it, put it up on a screen, and communicate their vision with all the department heads, before committing to final content creation. 

This serves creatives, but also allows financial models to derive true costs much earlier in the process than the previous pipeline allows. All while providing an environment that fosters creativity.

-Dane Allan Smith, Vice President - Creative, The Third Floor inc.

To hear from our complete panel of industry leaders, check out the new interactive report: “Top 2021 Trends in Media and Entertainment.”

June 10, 2021 in Industry | 7 min. read

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