February 25, 2024

Canada poised to lead the way in virtual production and virtual production training

Both a powerful visual display and intense learning environment, the Canadian Society of Cinematographers (CSC) brought together six industry partners and highly regarded cinematographers to support the CSC’s Virtual Production Masterclass on February 10, 11 and 12 in Vancouver.

Featuring a curriculum developed by Philip Lanyon csc, Director of Photography for Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Discovery, and Netflix’s Frontier, in conjunction with Buckethead creators, Marco Bossow and Andy Brown of Transmute Pictures, cinematographers from across the world were in attendance as participants and auditors. The masterclass premiered in Toronto in July 2023.

Hosted by Versatile Studios, a new virtual production studio offering the largest seamless LED wall in North America, and Peacemaker Studios, a multi- faceted virtual production studio that hosts car commercials and television series, the course covered a wide range of virtual production options.

Canada is poised to lead the way in virtual production and virtual production training. The only class of its kind in North America, the CSC’s Virtual Production Masterclass will assist cinematographers in making the leap from traditional to virtual production, and in combining the two forms.

The CSC is focused on making sure skilled workers are available to make these productions a success.

“Providing a space for Canadian cinematographers to learn virtual production from some of the best in the business will increase our members’ capacity—and our country’s capacity—to provide skilled professionals in this hugely growing sector,” says Susan Saranchuk, CEO of the CSC.

“Virtual production is the biggest change in our industry since we converted from analog to digital,” says Lanyon. “And we want Canadian cinematographers to be a driving force in training to provide the skilled talent necessary for us to shine even more brightly.”

Canadians are already well-established in the virtual production universe. The Star Trek franchises are almost exclusively shot by Canadian cinematographers – Philip Lanyon csc for Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery; Chris Mably csc for Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery; Maya Bankovic csc for Star Trek: Discovery and Glen Keenan for Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Short Treks and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Lanyon will also be lensing the newest Star Trek franchise – Star Trek: The Academy— which begins production this summer in Ontario.

Some experts predict that virtual production will become an industry norm by 2026, according to Research and Markets: Worldwide Virtual Market Study, released in Feb 2022. A year earlier the Toronto Screen Industry Workforce Study found that technological advancements are transforming production and post-production workflows and, as a result, new skills and methods of creation are rapidly being integrated into filmmaking.

Sponsors of the CSC Vancouver VP Masterclass include ARRI, Creamsource Lighting, IATSE 669, Peacemaker Studios, Raw Camera, Versatile Studios and William F. White International (a Sunbelt company).

Photos by Angel Lynne & Frank Devine.