Film industry turns to VFX and CGI to overcome travel ban

The exponential spread of COVID-19 has put the world on hold. What started with travel bans and public health warnings has evolved into over a billion people being confined to their homes. Businesses have shut down, pubs and restaurants have stopped serving customers, and international travel has become only a memory. 

Likewise, the film industry has cancelled major public events and many production companies are using local teams, when possible, to shoot on site, avoiding travel and reducing the size of crews to a safe minimum. But for big brands and leading companies, halting or minimising production is not an option. So for the foreseeable future, many have turned to CGI, VFX and animation to deliver their unfinished campaigns or new projects in the pipeline. 

Isabelle du Plessis, Head of PR at The Mill, one of the world’s largest visual effects companies, explains that “there is a reassessment in the commercial and creative community about what is possible, and clients are realising that we will have to go digital to make those ideas reality. We have been solving this kind of problem for many years. We are often approached by clients with challenges because they cannot shoot in a certain location or can’t get a certain car; and so they ask us to create them in CGI or VFX. In recent days, we have definitely noticed an influx of clients trying to see what our capabilities are at this time.”

Alexandros Konstantinou, Head of Post-Production at the global production house NEEDaFIXER, has been addressing similar requests coming from clients based all over the World: “Some of them know us for having utterly professional crews in 100+ countries; and so they come to us with requests for our vast footage libraries. But now we are being contacted by a growing number of clients who need to finish their commercials or films, and they need alternatives. There’s no doubt that VFX, CGI and animation might be good solutions.”

“What the companies in our network tell us is that they are already turning to creative alternatives to overcome the stay-at-home obstacle when it comes to advertising. We know that nowadays, 3D can be extremely photorealistic, effective and quick without costing a fortune”, he adds. “When clients come to us, we try to present them a number of new techniques and innovative solutions. And every time we liaise our clients with our VFX, CGI and animation partners, we realise that their business was not affected from a workload perspective because the industry is definitely turning to post-production to overcome the travel ban”. 

Nothing replaces reality. But until we can hit the road and return to live-action shoots, there is still a way to keep film alive with CGI, VFX and animation. Especially since it can all be done safely from home.