Hollywood Moving Past Pandemic Survival to Permanent Hybrid Virtual/On Set Production

Altman Solon’s Global Video Production Survey finds cost savings, large project backlog, and increased appetite for original content are moving industry to more virtual capabilities.

LOS ANGELES, March 7, 2022 – Long defined by elaborate sets and busy craft service tables, Hollywood film and video production has gone virtual over the past two years, fueled by pandemic concerns, the need to accelerate delayed production, and the insatiable consumer demand for new content. Survey data, released today by Telecommunications, Media, and Technology (TMT) consulting firm Altman Solon, found that almost 70% of industry respondents anticipate expanding virtual production, and more than 60% will increase their use of remote collaboration tools and cloud-based technologies even after the pandemic has ended. 

Altman Solon’s first Global Film & Video Production Survey gathered data from more than 100 industry executives – experts from film/TV studios, production companies, advertising, streaming/OTT, broadcast media, post-production, music, and live entertainment – across productions in 30+ countries, spanning North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. 

“The pandemic turned global TV and movie production on its head and forced the industry to improvise and innovate,” said Altman Solon Director Derek Powell, who oversees the firm’s new Los Angeles office. “Altman Solon’s survey indicates that some of the innovations born from necessity will outlast the pandemic – and are changing the way TV and movies are made.”

The survey found: 

  • Soundstage capacity constraints will continue to drive more virtual production.
  • A hybrid of remote/virtual production and on-set processes will become more common in productions.
  • Virtual production use will drive down costs and cycle times, at least over the long term. 
  • The industry will see a transition from leveraging point solutions to implementing end-to-end platforms across various phases of production. 

Production Backlog, Increased Content Demand Driving Change 

Altman Solon found that at least 30% of projects – on hold due to the pandemic – have been pushed into 2022, creating a need to employ new technologies to break the backlog. At the same time, with the competition for content among streaming services, networks, and movie studios, global content spend is expected to grow by an average of 7% annually – with an estimated $330B valuation by 2027.

Producing original content to meet demand is putting the spotlight on improving operational efficiency through the adoption of new technologies and innovative solutions. A majority of respondents anticipate expanding their virtual productions (67.1%), collaboration tools in support of remote workflows (61.9%), and cloud-based technologies (62.6%). The largest increase in spending will go towards virtual productions, as industry experts become more familiar with this approach and anticipate the continuation of hybrid productions post-pandemic. 

Hybrid Benefits

Survey respondents are seeing benefits to incorporating virtual technologies into production and post-production activities. Travel costs and staff time can be conserved by combining on-set filming with remote collaboration and virtual workstations. Post-production and review cycle time can be greatly reduced by using the cloud and virtualization to make changes. Rather than sequential, in-person editing and collaboration, virtual changes are fast, efficient, and save equipment, personnel, and travel costs.

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“I’ve never done virtual shooting before and what took me 6 hours on my laptop would have been 2 cross-country flights….and the end product was just as good.”

……..Video Production survey respondent

While the industry is seeing the benefits of virtualization, there are headwinds at play. For early adopters, higher capital costs related to new technology investment can slow down deployment. The survey found more than half of respondents reluctant to invest in virtual and remote solutions cited budget constraints as the primary reason. Other potential challenges include the lack of process standards, a fragmented market of production solutions, and a lack of tool compatibility.

“While there are some headwinds, most of the industry experts we spoke to believe there are benefits to virtual/hybrid production and, more importantly, are planning to increase investment in virtual products and solutions,” said Mary Ann Halford, Partner at Altman Solon.

For a complete look at the survey and corresponding data, please see here.

Altman Solon opened the Los Angeles office, its 13th global office, in early 2022, establishing formal roots in the global hub of the Media & Entertainment industry. The team, which currently consists of 18 consultants, has plans to add more LA-based consultants over the coming months. The new office supports the continued growth of Altman Solon’s media practice, attracts local talent with industry expertise, and enables Altman Solon to more effectively serve clients in the media sector.

About Altman Solon

Altman Solon works with market leaders, challenger brands, and investors across TMT sectors. We support our corporate clients in identifying, developing, and implementing company strategies, new market entry approaches, digital innovation, and global M&A. We help our investor clients understand markets, conduct due diligence, and make high-stakes decisions with confidence. Altman Solon has an extensive international reach with offices in Boston, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, Warsaw, and Zurich with successful projects completed across the globe in more than 100 countries.

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