Silver Spoon’s Laura Herzing on the increasing need for creatives to have a firm grasp of the tech inspiring broadcasting innovations
Virtual production and real-time technology are becoming commonplace across the media and entertainment industry. Content creators, broadcasters and filmmakers increasingly utilize live AR graphics and in-camera VFX in their work, and the level of creativity is a bar that is constantly being raised. However, unlike traditional approaches, in virtual production an in-depth understanding of technology is essential for success.
As someone who has transitioned from a creative background to a role that requires extensive technical knowledge, I believe this new approach to production will change the center of gravity for creative careers by giving them a strong pull towards technology. Before becoming a producer, I started my career working for advertising agencies as a graphic designer, and art director. Creativity has been a driving force throughout my career, but upon joining Silver Spoon, my knowledge of the technology behind the creative expanded rapidly. I’ve now come to realize that this knowledge is an equally vital component of my profession.
A great example of technology enabling a creative vision in my own experience is the avatar singing competition shown on Fox, Alter Ego. A pioneering TV broadcast in which a procession of AR avatars take to the stage, perfectly blended with a real world environment, this real-time show pushes the boundaries of what is possible with VP technology right now. As Executive Producer at Silver Spoon (who helped deliver the show) it was only possible for me to have confidence in the delivery of the creative vision by having a sound handle on the tech stack supporting it behind the scenes. From motion capture and facial animation to DMX and real-time compositing, I couldn’t achieve one without knowledge of the other.
With the rapid rise in AR, MR, and virtual production, the often separate and distinct worlds of technology and creative thinking have become increasingly intertwined. This is where a new opportunity arises, as there is now a serious need for more experts who can bridge the gap between the technical and creative worlds.
Real-time virtual production is an industry powered by a blend of technology with creativity. The notion of being pigeon-holed - or indeed pigeon-holing yourself - into a particular trench on either the creative or technology side of the fence, is at odds with the requirements of what the industry needs. The interdependent ways of working in this space means that, to unlock the true creative potential of a project, you need a fundamental understanding of the technology that drives it.
To truly succeed in the virtual production industry you want a hybrid set of skills. This field demands producers who can think creatively and understand the tech, artists with a forensic knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of the platforms that they are creating for, and developers who can visualize the creative ways that their frameworks will be utilized.
This shift in focus means that the industry must continue to support universities and educators to ensure that courses and degrees in this space are geared towards this new way of thinking. It can already be a hefty jump from academic learning to the world of work and the professional world is constantly changing or evolving at a rapid pace. It’s essential that the workforce of tomorrow are equipped with the tools they need to succeed and a cognisant approach to teaching creativity with technology is a vital part of this.
Working in the world of emerging creative technology is a thrilling place to be. There are so many opportunities within this field, from creative technologists, developers and technical artists, to producers and project managers. The future will bring with it a procession of enhancements to production - like the adoption of AI tools into workflows and new technologies to help realize even more amazing projects. The beating heart of any work though will remain the team behind it - and those individuals best equipped will be those who embrace the deepening marriage of creativity and technology.
Laura Herzing is executive producer at real-time animation and virtual production specialist Silver Spoon.