The project delivered a thorough market analysis of the Virtual Production market in both the UK and China and identified key market forces and reported industry dynamics shaping the evolution of the film production industry in the UK and China and developed valuable guidance and strategies for resilience development and future collaboration in the creative industry.

The findings were disseminated to the public and relevant stakeholders via the Beyond conference, BFX festival, British Computer Society, social media platforms, online panel discussions, and international workshop. The report aimed to develop a deeper mutual understanding of the dynamics impacting upon UK-China film industries-related collaboration, including different industry landscapes, policy and regulatory factors, market characteristics, cultural differences, etc.

Our project sheds new light on VP technology innovation and further taps the potential of collaboration, which bridges the research-industry partnerships between the UK and China across the breadth of the creative industries.

The next stage of project will continue to co-develop courses and textbooks, and establish talent training platforms, aiming at fostering greater collaborative opportunities and facilitate long-term creative and commercial relationships that support mutual success in the UK and China. Based on the concept of "co-creation," we are striving to develop a new industry-education model and launch a new type of joint training institution between the UK and China, which will be a resource to drive and support a scaling up of talent supply in the immersive technologies between the UK and China.

The market analysis report is available here.

Industry in the UK and China

The UK-China Research and Innovation Collaboration in Cloud-based Virtual Film Production (UCCVP) project aims to explore and investigate the status of cloud-based virtual film production in both the UK and China, identifying the key challenges of cross-country remote coordination and developing future strategic plans for UK-China collaboration in the film industry.

The project will deliver a thorough market research report to inform and guide research institutes in the UK for future investment in working with China and build a collaborative network in research and innovation, including beneficiaries in both academic and industry communities from the two countries.

The project has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and will be undertaken in conjunction with industry and academic partners in the UK and China.

The future of Virtual Production

Virtual Production defines a set of new production practices where practitioners work in and interact directly with a virtual set.

Filming on a virtual production set

This reduces the need to move crews and equipment to locations and enables remote working in virtual reality, reducing Covid-19 risks, the environmental footprint and production costs, and upending the traditional production process by blurring the lines between production departments.

The logical next step in the evolution of the discipline is to transition production in film, TV and broadcast media practices from those that are mainly facilities-bound to working environments that are cloud-based and remotely collaborative.

Challenges in collaborative Virtual Production 

Although industry names in both the UK and China have begun exploring and experimenting with this new way of film-making, there are still no widely accepted standards or mature techniques to make international, cross-country collaboration possible. 

Challenges come from not only the technical side (such as online storage and compression of big data, XR remote coordination, consistent lighting, camera tracking and real-time rendering) but also from differences in the production pipeline, production team structures and management and, perhaps most importantly, differences in culture and language, the policy and regulatory landscape, consumer trends and market dynamics. As such, there is still a long way to go. 

Cloud-based Virtual Film Production

A green screen studio with computers and a large LED screen

Due to their unique strength and leadership in digital film production, UK companies have shifted quickly and put more focus on the development of new virtual production technology, whereas China have put lots of effort into the cloud system development because of the advantage around 5G cloud and artificial intelligence research. At the intersection of these two technologies (Virtual Production and cloud computing), there exists a solution for the next generation technology of Cloud-based Virtual Film Production.

The market research will analyse the difference and intersection between the two markets, identify the policy trends and barriers to overcome, and develop guidance and strategies to facilitate new collaborations in the film industry that deliver sustained economic, cultural, and intellectual benefits in both countries.

£2.2 billion
The amount the global Virtual Production market is expected to reach by 2026, rising at a rate of 14.3%.
$7.4 billion
The amount of box office revenue taken in China in 2021, making it the largest film market in the world.

Project activity

The project has three consecutive stages to achieve its aims: 

Project aims

This project will lead to the development of a bridge between industries and the dissemination of knowledge that can help decision makers in film industries both in the UK and China.

Based on the research findings of this project, industry leaders will feel more confident in their strategies pursuing cloud-based solutions for virtual film production, thus removing barriers due to unknown policies, markets, cultures and standards.

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