The National Film and Television School (NFTS) has welcomed 15 participants selected to join its inaugural part-time Virtual Production Certificate course, kicking off with a workshop on Saturday 5th February, at the School’s HQ in Beaconsfield. The nine female and six male students range in age from 25 to 50 and come from a variety of ethnically diverse backgrounds with careers spanning games, VFX, animation and television.
The cohort is the first in the UK to undertake extensive training in the field of Virtual Production and first to utilise the country’s only dedicated LED training wall. Students also will have the opportunity to visit the V-Stage at WB Studios Leavesden, a 7,100-sq.-ft. wraparound virtual production environment, using a matrix of more than 2,600 LED panels integrated with a state-of-the-art processing system.
The NFTS Virtual Production Certificate is a six-month blended learning course led by Alan Thorn, who has headed up the School’s Games Design and Development MA for four years. The course offerings will provide students with the core skills needed to build and progress a career in the thriving Virtual Production industry. Designed to service the accelerated demand for Virtual Production skills within the screen sector, the NFTS, in partnership with WarnerMedia, WarnerMedia Access and StoryFutures Academy, is leading the charge in training participants on the next frontier of filmmaking technology.
During their first jam-packed workshop, the students received a warm welcome from the Virtual Production team and tutors who were on hand to introduce them to the world of Virtual Production and the exciting opportunities ahead. They enjoyed a hands-on demonstration of working with the cutting-edge LED stage housed within the School’s TV Studio, driven by Unreal Engine and currently the only dedicated training wall in the UK. They also heard from a recent NFTS graduate who shared their real-world experiences of working in Virtual Production.
New Virtual Production student Archis Achrekar, Motion Capture Production Supervisor commented: “I’m passionate about working in film and the Virtual Production course is very relevant to my background in Motion Capture. I’m keen to extend my skills and what attracted me to the course was the reputation of the NFTS, it is led by interesting people in a collaborative environment and I’m amongst fellow students from diverse backgrounds. There is so much to learn from everyone.”
Leslie Lee, aFreelance Documentary Producer/Director and Virtual Production student added: “Virtual Production is the future and the course will enable me to take a huge step forward in my career. I applied because the industry needs producers who understand the workflow and as the technology is so new, it’s a level playing field that absolutely anyone can get into. The creative possibilities are very exciting.”
As part of the NFTS and WarnerMedia’s commitment to strengthening diversity and inclusion within film and television, scholarship funding has been made available to students of the course, with WarnerMedia and WarnerMedia Access underwriting 75% of the course fee. Additionally, the School provides further financial assistance to those from diverse groups who require the hardware or software upgrades required to participate. Travel grants are also available to ensure that the course is accessible to students no matter where in the UK they are based.
NFTS Director Jon Wardle commented: “Virtual Production is rapidly breaking new ground and its capabilities will fundamentally change the way our students and the industry creates content, ultimately providing filmmakers with an enhanced experience. No location or environment will be out of reach and the possibilities are endless due to its cross-genre versatility. I’m thrilled the NFTS, working with WarnerMedia is at the forefront of training with this innovative and evolving technology. We look forward to collaborating with our first 15 students and wish them every success as they progress through the course and into the Virtual Production industry.”
WarnerMedia SVP of Equity and Inclusion, Programs, Karen Horne said: “The rapid growth and adoption of Virtual Production technology across our productions is creating a huge demand for skilled and specialized talent in this space. WarnerMedia is committed to ensuring equitable access to best-in-class training and resources in this field, so that underrepresented and under-served communities are benefiting from this growth and contributing as leaders in this space.”