Gower Street’s Director of Theatrical Insights, Rob Mitchell, spoke to the UK’s Telegraph newspaper this week about whether the pandemic could force movie-makers to opt for new technologies in production. The article, titled “Virtual actors and in-game screenings: Cinema’s demise could usher in a new era in entertainment“, considered whether, given the latest news of Cineworld closures and Odeon’s partial scale-back in the wake of the latest delay to Bond title NO TIME TO DIE, the ongoing crisis might be the “re-making” of the industry rather than its undoing.
The Telegraph’s Technology Correspondent Michael Cogley said that “recent turmoil in the industry has opened up opportunities to allow filmmakers to adapt in a digital age.” He suggested than socially-distanced film production and leading actors in lockdown had created a gap “for the emergence of everything from virtual actors to in-game screenings.” The article, published Monday (Oct. 5), discussed the news that talent agency CAA had signed up digital avatar Miquela in May and what that might mean for the movie industry.
Rob suggested that technology would still need to improve significantly to reach a stage where virtual actors might completely replace physical ones. “We still see films struggling from what the industry terms the ‘uncanny valley’ – the issue being something that the human eye understands is not quite real about these characters,” said Rob. He suggested such technology worked much better through motion capture when it is overlaid onto a real performance. “The great thing about technology is not that it’s replacing actors, it’s about advancing what actors can do.”
He did suggest, however, that it was a possible avenue producers might look at. “I think certainly, in the current situation, the industry will be considering various options of how they can pivot,” said Rob.