Biz / Tech

New technology reshapes China's film industry

Zhu Shenshen
State Production of China Film Group's Ma Ping tells film festival forum how virtual production bridges "western technologies and Chinese culture and stories."
Zhu Shenshen

Virtual production has great potential in China with its record-high box office income and first-class artificial intelligence innovations and industry, speakers told a forum of the Shanghai International Film Festival.

Virtual production, which allows directors to see special effects beforehand, cuts production costs by half and improves efficiency. It also bridges "western technologies and Chinese culture and stories," said Ma Ping, deputy general manager of State Production of China Film Group. 

China has two unique advantages in virtual production with sufficient box office revenue to support new technologies and innovations and world-leading AI development, speakers told the "Virtual and Reality, New Changes in Film Production" forum.

Virtual production helps artists bring Chinese culture, people's daily lives and family stories to the world, compared with just martial arts previously, said Chris Bremble, founder and CEO of Base Media, screenwriter, director and producer.

Virtual production, also used in Hollywood blockbusters, is used in Chinese stories to make them more familiar and acceptable to young people, said Wong Amp, director of "White Snake" and "Green Snake," who has a team of 250 people. 

During the forum, Wong showed the animation and virtual reality technology used in its "Green Snake" to be on show next month, successor to "White Snake," a well-known Chinese fantasy legend.

Smart technologies such as virtual production will finally replace current technologies, said Chang Hongsong, founder and owner of Beijing Phenom Films Technology Co, and the entry threshold in film and special effects production will be lower for more artists. 

Phenom Films has offered AI and film production services for 400 films, including popular titles such as "Mojin: the Lost Legend" and "Painted Skin: the Resurrection." 

On average, virtual and AI technology adoption can help producers cut costs by 50 to 70 percent, Ma said.

Costs are always a barrier for film production. But new technology such as AI and 5G will help, said Bremble.

However, virtual production face challenges such as a shortage of professional and experienced talent.

New technology reshapes China's film industry
Zhu Shenshen / SHINE

Speakers share opinions on AI and virtual technology at a festival forum on Tuesday. 

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