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Technology skills deficit in TV industry means future opportunities for young people, says Sky executive producer

By Thomas Wootton

Students can have the edge over experienced production crews who are sometimes frightened of new technology, according to the head of innovation at Sky Studios Drama.

Speaking at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media week, Victoria Wharton highlighted the increasing changes in technology within the TV and film industry and a deficit in technology skills.

She said: “The convergence of game engines into film and television is the way forward and there is a skills deficit.

“I think technology is advancing at such a pace, not to be interested in it would be a mistake. Young people need to be curious and be excited.

“The traditional skills won’t go away, but it will converge. The creativity and technology are going to converge.”

Victoria said an example of this was working in the costume department, where technology and software can help in designing costumes at a faster pace for approval by the director.

“Students coming out of university now have got the best chance. It’s all new to the traditional crews and it can be a bit frightening. People who have no experience, it’s not frightening for them, it’s just how it is.

“It’s a very exciting time to be starting out,” she said.

Yorkshire Voice Victoria Wharton, executive producer and head of innovation at Sky Studios Drama, speaking Leeds Trinity University’s online event.

Talking about the future of television production, she said: “What has become really apparent in the last 12 months is the need to produce television even in a lockdown.

“Virtual production or real time production, as it is sometimes known, has come up in the mix as a way forward.”

Victoria said technology was resulting in more flexibility in the traditional stages of production that television dramas and films usually go through – namely pre-production, production and post-production. 

“Virtual production allows post-production effects to now be added in the production stage, saving time.

“It also allows people to collaborate remotely using previz in a games engine, so that everyone involved can rehearse and review before production.”

The use of virtual production and game engines usually reserved for high-end films is now becoming far more common in high-end television shows.

Rounding off her appearance, Victoria outlined her top tips for young people and those aspiring to enter the television industry.

She said: “Look for every opportunity because there is a skills deficit at the moment. It’s a long game, it can take years to get where you want to be. You’ve got to be resilient. Look everywhere for experience, try everything, don’t say ‘no’ to anything.”

Victoria strongly suggested looking into and applying to outside partnerships, apprenticeships, a Royal Television Society membership and companies such as Dimension who are looking to use virtual production.

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