Everyone knows that technological advances and film go hand in hand. Technology has revolutionised the film industry from improvements in CGI to ultra-realistic animations. Video production continues to develop as technology drives forward innovation. But how will new technologies, and more specifically the metaverse, impact the film industry as we move forward?

As video production London experts, we have spoken with industry leaders to not only look at how technology will make the film more accessible for everyone, but how it will affect directors, producers, and the larger film industry as a whole.

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So the metaverse. It started as a science fiction thing, right?

Yes. In the 90s, Neal Stephenson was working at Bell Labs when he came up with the idea of a metaverse. He had been reading about cyberspace, and it seemed like it could be used for good or bad. So he thought: what if we created our own version of cyberspace where everyone can interact with each other?

He imagined a future where you could go into a room and meet someone who looks just like you but has many unique skills and abilities. You wouldn't have to worry about getting sick because your body isn't really inside of yours anymore. And if you wanted to get away from someone, you could just walk out of the room.

This is how he imagined the Metaverse. It sounds pretty cool, right?

This is what inspired him to write Snowcrash.

Snowcrash is set in 2044, and it takes place in New York City. He famously conceived and developed the term "Metaverse", which refers to an augmented world that is populated with virtual avatars.

Many other sci-fi films include metaverse systems, some are already based on Snowcrash. But Stephenson is still one of the most common references for metaversaries and Ernest Cline's Ready Player One from 2011.

The Metaverse is a massively scaled and interacting network of real-time rendered virtual reality that enables users in an arbitrary quantity to be observed continuously.

The Metaverse means users experience something as they would experience it in real-time. New AR and VR technology allows the user to immerse themselves in the world of a real person in a visual projection of an object on the surface.

The Metaverse consists largely of augmented, virtual, and real-life fusions and blurs the distinction between the online and real world. However broken down more simply, there are many platforms such as Sandbox, Mirandus, and Decentral that allow for interaction with people in diverse ways.

A lot of things have changed since the original 90s concept, including the internet. We're now using the internet to communicate with people around the globe, and we've also got smartphones, video games, social media, and so much more.

Didn’t we have a whole metaverse hype cycle around SecondLife in the ‘00s? What's different now?

Obviously, a lot of this new phenomenon is not very novel. In the early 2000s, people became land barons and sold online goods. Some schools are launching satellite colleges around the world. Social 3D space e.g. Cyber Town existed long before SecondLife.

Even earlier in the 1970s, early virtual worlds appeared in text-based multi-user Dungeon. Several previous worlds have been influenced by those utopian predictions today seen around the metaverse.

One thing that has brought more hype to the whole metaverse phenomenon is the advancement in graphics and design since SecondLife.

Now, many online gaming communities, such as Roblox, work on a “live service” model. This means the gaming worlds are constantly being updated, which encourages users to return.

As we are seeing from these communities, we can build a complete world in the same platform such as Roblox where players could accessorize avatars by virtue of virtual gear.

How will the metaverse transform the film industry?

We spoke with Julian Anderson - Immersive Experience Creator and Co-Founder of Hot Dark Matter, who said:

“Over the past decade, we have seen a number of transformations that could be considered part of the Metaverse era, both from how films are produced to how they are consumed.

Within the Metaverse, consumers will be able to enjoy films on screen or in Virtual or Augmented Reality, and may even be able to interact as part of the narrative. Therefore for films to be 'Metaverse ready', they will need to be produced differently.

Virtual Production is evolving how films are made, using CGI and Game Engines to create ultra-realistic environments and characters, with the ability to output content that can be viewed on-screen, as augmented reality assets in the real world, or in a fully immersive virtual reality experience.”

We know that technology has made the cinematic experience even more realistic with films like The Irishman and Gemini Man using digital de-ageing as a way to offer a more immersive experience as we travel through time. It is clear from this that already we are heading in a direction of producers using augmented reality for advantages in storytelling and casting.

But how soon will the metaverse become like the film Ready Player One? We asked Julian this exact question:

“It is going to be some time before the Metaverse becomes like Ready Player One, as significant advances in technology, infrastructure, and consumer behaviour need to take place for that to happen.

The key step, and the next 'iPhone moment', is Augmented Reality glasses, when people will be able to enable a digital layer over the real world.”

People say NFTs are part of the metaverse. Why?

The underlying NFT system is complex, but it goes as follows: The NFT system records who hold the virtual goods created and transmitted through a digital network.

Therefore,this means that NFTs have potential economic applications to the world's metaverse. If I get a virtual shirt at Metaverse Platform A, NFTs can provide you with a receipt that can be redeemed in Metaverse Platform B. Lots of NFT designers sell collectable avatars like Cryptopunk and other NFTs.

NFTs also have a lot of social implications. They can be used to create a decentralized reputation system where everyone has their own score. The platform could use this score to determine whether someone should be allowed access to certain services.

NFTs are considered by some as just another form of virtual currency that will become increasingly important as blockchain technologies continue to evolve.

How will NFTs change the film production process?

Anderson commented that “What's interesting about NFTs is the broad real-world use cases enabled by the underpinning blockchain technology. For the film production process, NFTs could be used to:

1. Generate funds for the film from an invested community of token holders

2. Award credits to cast and crew, i.e. as a producer, I could have all my credits as digital assets on the blockchain

3. Cast digital characters, i.e. a Bored Ape, and/or purchase CG NFT assets with a license to use in the film”

We also asked him how can films be funded by NFTs to which he informed us:

“Films are already being funded by NFTs, and what's interesting is that if approached correctly way, is not only can you raise funds but you can also benefit from an invested community that you can involve in the production process i.e. reviewing scenes and voting for talent, and you also have a marketing machine to generate hype for the film's release.

Taking a step back, though, in order to generate funds for a film via NFTs you need to identify what value you are giving to the community of token holders... will they receive long-tail royalty payments based on the financial success of the film? Will they get exclusive access to the red carpet events? Would their digital avatar be present within the film?

You also need to consider the form of the digital asset... is it fungible, i.e. everyone has the same token represented as a gif of the film title? Or is it non-fungible, meaning everyone has a unique token, i.e. different characters from the film?

There are many other considerations, so it's key to take time to identify the right strategy, and to always think of the value exchange for token holders.”

Via VR, will it soon be possible to watch a film where you’re actually a character in a movie?

“Over the past 10 years, I've been involved in the production of a number of VR experiences that put you in the shoes of a character. It's an incredible tool for building empathy.

I believe we will see more of this in the future; as technology advances, the user will be able to choose which perspective they want to enjoy the movie from.” Stated Anderson.

In Summary

Technology, especially AR and VR, has come a long way since the metaverse original concept back in 1990, but we are not quite there yet.

However, the concept of viewers being able to take part in a movie, see themselves as the main character, and even virtually attend awards could soon happen, as their avatar will make the film generally more immersive and accessible for all.

These advancements will also enable filmmakers to be extremely creative with their storytelling.