Virtual Production (Filmmaking with real-time technologies)



Virtual Production (VP) is a rapidly growing area of content production. By combining CGI, game-engines, and virtual reality technologies, VP enables completely new ways of making film and TV, from virtual scouting, to set design, to real-time, on-set visual effects. VP techniques impact many core disciplines within filmmaking, from cinematography, to production design, VFX, animation, directing and beyond.  

The UK screen sector is currently facing unprecedented demand for VP skills. This new part-time National Film and Television School (NFTS) Certificate, in partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), WarnerMedia Access and StoryFutures Academy, has been designed to give students the foundation on which to build a virtual production career in the thriving VP industry.

This course aims to introduce students to the core technical and filmmaking skills required to work on a VP project using an LED Stage driven by Unreal Engine. This course is designed for those who will fill key artistic and technical disciplines, including Technical Artists, Lighting Specialists, Colour Specialists, Technical Designers/Directors, Camera Hardware/Software Pipeline Engineers, LED Hardware Engineers, or VP Technical Generalists. Participants may come from varied technical and creative backgrounds, such as games, VFX, 3D animation, graphics design or film crew camera departments.

The course offers theoretical and practical experience delivered via weekly online seminars as well as six (6) weekend hands-on workshops at our VP LED wall and facilities at the NFTS Beaconsfield Film Studios.

What you will study

This course has been put together in consultation with our partners Warner Bros. Discovery, WarnerMedia Access and StoryFutures Academy and is designed to give students a grounding in the core skills, knowledge and understanding required for VP technical setups, and key on-set roles and activities.

Central to developing an understanding of how to work on a virtual production is access to a LED stage and on-set training, combined with the core skills, knowledge and insight required to work across a full VP production team.  

Students will learn the fundamentals of virtual production and explore the key underlying technologies; including the core functionality and more advanced elements of Unreal and its role within the VP process, a walk-through of the LED Wall set up and merging digital and physical props and design workflows.  Students will learn about the key roles and their functions within virtual production, including the roles of Production Designer, Director of Photography, Technical Artist, and the Virtual Art Department. Case studies and group exercises will put these core elements into practice.

On completing the course, students will be ready to take on roles such as an entry-level trainee, assistant, junior position on set within the VP Technical Department (often referred to as the “brain bar”) and be able to assist in a hardware/software pipeline Engineering role.

Further working experience, complemented by self-taught technical learning, will enable applicants to focus on a specialty, such as a Technical Artist, Lighting specialist, Colour specialist or VP hardware engineer (camera/LED/software).

MODULE 1 - Introduction to Virtual Production
An exploration of the different types of VP and key underlying technologies, and introduction to on-set roles and workflow. Includes a demonstration at the NFTS LED Wall. Will also include a practical workshop on the key roles of a VP film set.

MODULE 2 - Unreal for VP 1
Introductory level workshops covering core functionality of Unreal and its role within the VP process - including the basics of scene design, lighting, sequencer and animation, along with art and art pipeline. Includes remote lessons and hands-on introductory learning. 

MODULE 3 - Unreal for VP 2
An introduction to some of the more advanced elements of Unreal needed within VP, including optimisation techniques, blueprints programming, technical art and VFX, followed by a design exercise

MODULE 4 - LED Stage Technical Setup
A walk through the setup of the LED Wall and camera tracking technology, including talks from a Virtual Production Supervisor’s perspective and analysis of technology solutions.

MODULE 5 - Design for Virtual Production
A look at colour science and tutorials on lighting in-engine, followed by individual and group multi-user shared design practical exercises

MODULE 6 - Practical LED Stage Workshop
Group exercises putting the learned knowledge and experience into practice, including hands-on setting up and colour matching digital and physical assets, on-set modifications to lighting and placement of props, identifying and rectifying common artefacts and issues.

Location & Schedule:

This part-time course will run for twenty four (24) weeks. Teaching will be delivered once a week through a combination of on-site practical training at the NFTS in Beaconsfield and synchronous online remote learning. Lessons will take place during weekday evenings or weekend days.

The LED Volume which underpins the programme is supported by EM3 LEP’s investment in the createch economy with StoryFutures/Academy and its partnership with Royal Holloway, University of London to benefit the UK’s immersive economy.

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Fees for this course are as follows:

Course fee (for both International and Home): £3,450 ***

To ensure that the course is accessible to as many people as possible, 12 places on the course are being 75% underwritten by Warner Bros. Discovery and WarnerMedia Access, and these successful applicants will pay £865 for the course. 

N.B. Due to high demand, an extra 3 places have been made available, bringing to total number of places to 15 - but these places are not supported by scholarship monies and will need to be fully funded by the student.

***Please don’t let money be a barrier to participation. If the fee presents a significant challenge for you, we encourage you to apply and note this in your application, as further scholarship support is available for students from diverse groups who may require additional financial assistance. This additional support can go towards course fees and / or hardware or software upgrades required to participate. Travel grants are also available to ensure that all students can take part in the course no matter where they are in the UK.

Entry requirements

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have at least two years of  screen industry experience and some production or post-production experience.  Applicants may come from varied technical and creative backgrounds including games, VFX, 3D animation, graphics design and technical film crew (i.e., camera department). Knowledge and/or awareness of the use of game engines and Unreal Engine, 2D and 3D modelling tools is beneficial. Applicants should have a good general education, but there are no other specific educational requirements.

This course relies on powerful software, such as the Unreal Engine. Participants are expected to have access to the necessary hardware for running the Unreal Engine effectively for the online seminars on this course, support for which is available upon request. 

How to apply

Application deadline: 23 Jun 2022

In addition to completing the online application form, applicants must submit the following:

  • Please submit an up-to-date copy of your CV, Including a link (if possible) where we can see examples of your work or projects that you have worked on (EG: Videos or screenshots, or other digital materials).

You can apply online by clicking on BEGIN YOUR APPLICATION below. We are happy to receive applications at any time up until the midnight of the application deadline date.

Begin your application