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Bild Studios: MARS Academy helps British film & TV industry close the Virtual Production skills gap

Jul 19, 2022

MARS Academy is the latest innovative learning initiative from MARS Volume, the UK’s largest independent Virtual Production facility, with support from ScreenSkills and Hillingdon Council

MARS Volume, Europe’s most ambitious purpose-built, permanent Virtual Production (VP) facility, announces the launch of MARS Academy, designed to deliver the latest VP techniques and skills in vocational training. MARS Academy offers film and TV production professionals a unique range of courses, specifically designed to arm participants with the knowledge, know-how and abilities to confidently walk on set and add value to any virtual production.

Education and knowledge transfer is at the heart of MARS Volume, the UK’s foremost dedicated commercial facility for virtual productions and a centre of excellence for research and development into VP technologies and workflows. MARS Volume was designed and built from the ground up by renowned media technologists and visual pioneers, Bild Studios. MARS Academy is launching a range of vocational VP training programmes in September 2022, with the support of ScreenSkills as part of the BFI Future Film Skills programme using funds from the National Lottery and Hillingdon Council.

MARS and Bild co-founder, Rowan Pitts explains: “With our first four MARS Academy courses starting this coming September, learners will gain extensive knowledge into the creative world of virtual production. MARS Academy is a vital learning initiative, equipping students, film and TV professionals and studios alike with the necessary technical and creative skills, hands-on experience and know-how. It is inspired by the belief that virtual production will become an essential part of any successful filmmaker’s toolkit in the near future.”

Bild Studios’ CCO and director of academic strategy, Joanna Alpe, comments: “The courses on offer at MARS Academy are unique, in that we can offer students and industry professionals a direct transfer of education, skills and know-how: both from our highly experienced in-house team at MARS Volume, and from our respected industry partners and VP pioneers including Lux Machina, Epic Games, Escape Studios, Stype and Brompton. This gives learners the opportunity to gain hands on volume-based learning, from those at the forefront of the industry.”

“Additionally, as part of this exciting opportunity, for our launch Summer School schedule of 4 courses, the individuals who apply to train will receive full funding in partnership with ScreenSkills and Hillingdon Council. Our mission in establishing MARS Academy is a clear one: we aim to educate filmmakers, producers and directors in order to accelerate the adoption and use of new Virtual Production technologies and workflows across Britain’s film and TV industry.”

Commenting on the launch of MARS Academy, Emma Turner, head of film CPD and Future Skills, ScreenSkills explains: “The technology at the heart of virtual production is rapidly changing, and this has led to a national skills shortage that can only be addressed with hands-on training. ScreenSkills is excited to support the launch of MARS Academy, as it offers UK based Screen Industry professionals the opportunity to rapidly upskill and deploy virtual production tools, technologies and workflows in their own productions.”

Hillingdon Council and West London Business have been instrumental in supporting MARS Academy as well, and they also anticipate the opening of the Academy. 

Andrew Dakers, CEO, West London Business: “We are pleased to support the growth of the innovative work being done at MARS Volume, by creative technology pioneers Bild Studios.  Virtual production is changing the TV/Film industry and MARS Volume by Bild Studios is helping to drive that change.  With MARS Academy, Bild Studios have made the commitment to use their expertise to train and upskill current and future talent so that they have the skills to be successful at the cutting edge of the latest digital production technology.  MARS Academy will ensure that West London remains a global leader for the film and TV industry that supports job growth and pioneers the latest innovations”

MARS Academy launches in September 2022, with four new courses tailored to provide professional filmmakers and producers with new skills:

  • VP 101 – a focused training programme designed with the aim of providing a broad and general understanding of the VP pipeline from Render Node to Screen. Through understanding the various VP roles and responsibilities, this course supports the career development of current film professionals, introducing them to the fundamentals of Virtual Production.
  • VP Scheduling and Financials for Producers – designed to provide experienced production professionals with a high understanding of Virtual Production and the nuances of a producing role within this new industry. After completing the course, participants will gain the confidence and know-how to schedule, budget, and lead a successful Virtual Production shoot.
  • LED Systems for Film Crew  – designed to provide existing working professionals from a range of technical backgrounds with a comprehensive understanding of LED screens and the technology that drives them. With a focus on Brompton processing and colour pipelines, the course aims to provide participants with the key skills and knowledge to work as a Junior LED Technician for Virtual Production.
  • VFX Artists on Film Sets – designed to equip working VFX practitioners with the knowledge to undertake Virtual Production shoots confidently. By providing a detailed understanding of the ins and outs of a Virtual Art Department (VAD), alongside an in-depth breakdown of additional tool sets required when working with VP, this course looks to upskill and train those from a traditional VFX background who are looking to move into Virtual Production with Unreal Engine experience. 

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