Five Years into the Future

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There was a recent discussion on CGTalk about where the industry (cg, vfx, gaming, who knows exactly) is headed. While I didn't contribute to that thread, I did read it, and felt that I should write a little something about what might happen in 2013. Three years ago, I wrote a little post called 3D and IMAX, and many of the things I mentioned have started to come true, if not already!

Here's what has happened in the last three, and what I think we'll find happen in the next three to five. More 3D films are coming out. Beowulf, Meet The Robinsons, sections of Harry Potter and Superman, the Tron 2 teaser was shown in stereo at Comicon, and many of Disney's films are now created with 3D in mind. Films are regularly getting shown in IMAX, even shot in that format. The Dark Knight is the most recent example, with sections of it filmed in IMAX. Shows are getting finished in 4K and above. Visual effects are being completed at that resolution. We're still ahead of the technology curve; most of our machines are still struggling to put out 4K imagery. We are always pushing the limit. Plasma, DLP, LCD/LED display technology has gotten better. The RED camera systems and Canons new SLRs are pushing the boundaries of what a prosumer can afford and record. SSD drives have become an affordable reality. All these technologies will allow a filmmaker to create a film for much cheaper. Shooting at 120+ fps on digital has become a reality.

On the job front, in the past three years, we've found that the industry still demands the best and brightest. It's still a tough road for many, and studios are still struggling to find qualified and talented people. Outsourcing is still in its infancy, but what we may find is that studios will prefer to keep certain tasks local for quality control. The film, computer graphics and gaming industries of countries overseas will find that it's cost effective to keep work local. The internet has made the world a smaller place, and as such, the digital content distribution systems the likes of Steam, Hulu, Youtube, XBox Live, PSN, have allowed game developers, filmmakers, and cg specialists an outlet to distribute their content without the need for huge studio backing. You no longer need to live in a big city to create a great game or film.

So, what are my predictions for the next three to five years? Here they are in no particular order.

  • Stereoscopic work will make its way into films much more. More theatres will upgrade to 3D projection systems.
  • We'll see CG humans indistinguishable from their real counterpart. While Gollum and Davy Jones have succeeded in giving us a fully CG character that is humanoid, we will finally reach that point beyond the uncanny valley.
  • Hardware and software will continue to grow at a increasing pace. So much so that in five years stereoscopic 4k will be the norm for what a filmmaker can accomplish on a standard film. Whether they take advantage of that tech in their film or not remains to be seen.
  • Film quality gaming will become a reality. What we see now at 2K in film, will be what we see in gaming at HD resolution in three to five. A truly interactive cinematic experience will be at the consumers hands.
  • Stereoscopic gaming will start to take hold. Taking into account all the 3D display technologies out there, the ones that will succeed will be the ones that don't require polarized glasses for the user or any other user-required items like shutter or anaglyph glasses.
  • On the job front, we'll find that artists that specialize in the above technologies will be well suited for the work. That includes skin and texture artists, environmental and particle effects artists, stereo compositors and TDs.
  • DigitalGypsy will still be around.

What do you think? Do you think that these predictions seem plausible, or am I totally off my rocker?

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