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Drivers of change: The future of the industry

In the final part of TVBEurope's series of features considering the state of the media tech industry we look to the future, and ask what should the industry be focusing on?

In the final part of our series of features looking at the current state of the media tech industry we look to the future, find out how companies are engaging with the next generation of talent, and ask what should the industry be focusing on?

How is your organisation engaging with the next generation of potential talent that we need to attract into our industry? 

Bryan Castle, Avid (BC): Avid and the customer-led Avid Community Association (ACA) run the Avid Learning Collective (ALC) programme as a means to actively support those that bring – and champion – new voices and talent to the industry. The aim of the program is to aid in the creation of a more inclusive workforce that will help strengthen and improve every aspect of the media and entertainment business. The educational organisations and initiatives receive sponsorship of a three-year membership in the global Avid Learning Partner programme and licenses for Avid creative tools, teacher training and course materials for students as well as peer and professional networking to cultivate visibility, mentoring and job opportunities for students. In 2022, ALC awarded programmes to six recipients that span the globe, from Africa and the US to Scotland, who are leading this charge: Ability Post Productions Academy LTD, Docs in Progress, Ebony Life Creative Academy, Haven Studios, Heart of JOB Foundation, and Women’s Audio Mission (WAM).

Caroline Meyer, Bedrock: To engage with the next generation of potential talent, Bedrock focuses on:

  1. School Partnerships: We collaborate with schools, participating in events and workshops to showcase industry opportunities and provide guidance.
  2. Recruitment of Apprentices and Interns: We actively recruit apprentices and interns from educational institutions, offering hands-on experience and potential future employment.

These initiatives help us attract young talent, inspire their interest in our industry, and provide valuable learning opportunities for their career development.

Glodina Lostanlen, Imagine Communications (GL): Across the industry we have all talked a lot over the last few years about the way that the industry has had to adapt, from fixed configurations of bespoke hardware to software-centric architectures. And along with that, we have talked about the need for IT skills alongside broadcast engineering.

But what perhaps we have overlooked is that the IT industry is a very different employment environment. The traditional broadcast engineer might change employers once or twice in a lifetime, but basically stayed in the industry and did what they knew best. In the IT industry the expectation is to move every few years. There is high demand for the best IT skills, and those experts can pick and choose jobs. 

We also have to accept that the working environment is different today. It was accelerated by Covid, of course, but the IT industry was already embracing home working and flexible hours. To attract the best talent, we have to understand that they want to determine their own work/life balance.

Carina Schoo, Pixotope (CS): When it comes to virtual production, affordable access to tools and simplified, smooth workflows is an essential driving force behind the ongoing development of Pixotope software. By breaking down barriers that often prohibit entry into this industry, such as access to the necessary software, resource costs and ease of use, it ensures a greater number of people can pursue a career in this industry and help overcome the current skill shortage.

Moreover, we are actively engaging with the next generation of virtual production potential talent through our robust Pixotope Education Program. This programme is specifically designed to equip aspiring professionals with the technology, knowledge and skills required to thrive in the rapidly evolving field of virtual production. Through partnerships with educational institutions and industry experts, this program offers access to our state-of-the-art virtual production platform, enabling students to gain hands-on experience, as well as connections to the Pixotope global community of industry experts.

The latest exciting development in this programme has been the launch of the Pixotope Pocket mobile application. Even with the accessibility benefits the program provides, we realized that many students still don’t always have access to the large professional studio setups in their school’s media production labs. Available to students in the program, the launch of Pixotope Pocket means that students only need their phones and a PC to be able to engage and practice with virtual production tools and workflows wherever they are. By fostering a supportive learning environment and equipping young talents with the necessary tools and knowledge, the Pixotope Education Program plays a vital role in shaping the future of virtual production.

What initiatives do you have underway and/or what industry initiatives are you a part of that seek to build bridges with schools and further/higher education facilities in promoting our industry as a great place to work? 

BC: Avid is now offering higher education institutions that offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs the opportunity to provide free Media Composer software to any student who wants it. The Media Composer for Students Program enables schools to provide the same tools and technology used throughout the media and entertainment industry to all their students—at no cost—to help prepare the next generation of video professionals. Additionally, Avid has brought its World Vision Tour to universities across the globe to give students the opportunity to learn from industry specialists and gain valuable hands-on experience with Avid’s latest storytelling solutions for audio and video post production. 

Hanna Fjällström, Codemill: Codemill has conducted gender equality workshops and invited female engineering students to visit our workplace and become inspired to pursue a career in media tech. Our team has built connections with Västerbottens Handelskammare, to set-up study visits for all students but especially to encourage young women. The workshops provide two-way feedback, and running these events has helped us to become more aware of the different hurdles young women face.

We are actively working to promote diversity in recruitment, employer branding, and external communication and this is shared when we join the job fair Uniaden at Umeå University every year. During 2023 we will have 4 thesis workers doing their master thesis with us and one of the students has already been hired as a UX Designer after the summer vacation.   

Vinayak Shrivastav, Magnifi: As a young, growing company, Magnifi has strategically leveraged the abundant talent pool in India and around the world, capitalising on the thriving growth opportunities. 

Our funding support enables us to invest in research and development, fostering rapid innovation in our core technology. By continuously pushing the boundaries of what is possible, we not only stay at the forefront of our industry but also attract the attention of aspiring professionals who are looking for a dynamic and innovative work environment.

We have also been doing some great work with organisations that promote sports at a school and college level across UK and USA. Our aim is to assist these promising young athletes in receiving the recognition they deserve.

Magnifi is committed to building bridges with education institutions. Through internships, industry collaborations, and our focus on innovation, we aim to promote our industry as a great place to work and inspire the next generation of talent to join us on this exciting journey. 

What are the most important things the industry as a whole needs to focus on?

BC: The steady escalation of video viewing on all consumer platforms is intensifying the already acute demand for media production talent and, in particular, for TV and film editors. The industry should focus on encouraging and creating opportunities for aspiring creatives to learn the editing craft to enable them to join the professional ranks of qualified storytellers working in Hollywood, TV, streaming services and elsewhere in media.

GL: The issues are not only in engineering: they are in operations, too. We have more channels and platforms demanding more content, as well as high expectations in production values – more cameras, replays and features in sports, for example. All of which demand skilled, experienced people.

The impetus is to automate as far as possible, so that people can be deployed where they are really needed. We are far from a place where AI can create a highlights package of a football match, but we can automate the tagging and bin preparation so the editor has a flying start.

At Imagine, we have tried to lead the industry in automation where it is appropriate, like using AI for campaign planning and advertising fulfilment. As well as releasing staff to focus on what they do best, as AI becomes more sophisticated, it will help – at least in some areas – to mitigate against skills shortages. Recruit the best sales person and don’t worry that they have no experience in planning audience reach across broadcast and online services: the software can do that.

The recruitment crisis could be very serious. It is up to all of us to find ways to recruit and retain staff. By making the jobs exciting and meaningful, people will recognise that they are having a real impact on the business.

Tove Bylund, Net Insight: The success of our industry relies heavily on its ability to attract and retain talented employees. In the face of fierce competition for skilled professionals, companies must prioritise the retention of their current workforce while also excelling in recruiting new talent. Our industry must attract more women to foster diversity, and inclusion, and leverage the full range of talent and perspectives for innovation and growth.

Embracing diversity requires not only hiring diverse employees but also cultivating an inclusive culture that encourages collaboration and respect. By leveraging the full range of talent and perspectives, companies can drive innovation, problem-solving, and adaptability in an increasingly complex and competitive industry.

A learning organisation culture, where individuals have the opportunity to influence their roles and engage in professional development, is crucial. Short decision paths and an open, secure, and transparent environment where knowledge is shared between individuals are also desirable. Offering exciting and innovative projects, in a dynamic and agile environment enables continuous growth and development. By investing in employee growth and development, companies foster a culture of innovation and adaptability.

CS: With the exponential growth we have seen in the adoption of virtual production to produce visually engaging content, at Pixotope we see the technology maturing and progressing every day and fully believe that virtual production will ultimately become an integral part of all media production. But in order to get to that point, the media industry needs to prioritize several key areas in relation to virtual production.

Firstly, increasing and encouraging access to virtual production workflows by investing in more affordable, user friendly technology and infrastructure is crucial to unlocking the full potential of virtual production. In tandem with this, there needs to be adequate training and resources available to nurture and upskill the existing workforce to help creatives realize what can now be done simply and affordably with incredible results.

Fostering collaboration and cross-disciplinary partnerships between creatives, technologists, and production teams opens doors to limitless creativity by breaking down silos and promoting knowledge sharing, and as a result the industry can harness the collective expertise. By focusing on these aspects, the media industry can fully leverage the transformative power of virtual production and shape the future of storytelling.