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Meet the virtual production stage technician

James Codling tells TVBEurope how he was inspired to move into working in virtual production after watching The Mandalorian

TVBEurope is launching a brand new feature aiming to showcase the breadth of jobs within the media technology industry.

Each week we’ll be showcasing one role within the industry, be that a sound mixer, software engineer, post production producer or cloud solutions architect. The point is to show the plethora of roles available.

Our hope is that this will become a resource for anyone currently in the industry, and those who might be interested in joining.

James Codling, virtual production stage technician, Final Pixel
Talk us through an average day in your role

I am a virtual production technician for Final Pixel. No two days are the same in my role because I work across a range of technologies and projects. One day I might be setting up and calibrating a camera tracking system or I can be working within Unreal Engine getting content displayed on an LED wall or running a training programme on virtual production. Shoot days are great and combine all the technical aspects of my role, I also work from home working on R&D, previs for shoots and so many more creative projects.

How did you get started in the media industry?

Before the pandemic I was working in commercial green screen experiences in the tourism sector, then lockdown hit. I started researching virtual production using LED and Unreal Engine after watching The Mandalorian. I eventually found an opportunity with Final Pixel to come on board as a virtual production stage technician trainee. This sounded perfect, it combined my love of film, gaming, and technology into one role. I spent my traineeship learning all about virtual production, from software to hardware and everything in-between.

What training did you have before entering the industry?

I started studying film in high school when I was 16, I’ve known for years that this was the industry I wanted to work in. Then at collage I did an A level in film studies which was theoretical, and a BTEC in TV and film production which was very practical. I continued my studies at the University of Westminster on the Contemporary Media Practice course, which expanded my skills into the world of AR/VR and emerging technologies. 

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

I love being on the front line of innovation in the film and TV industry, working with new and emerging technology in a creative and technological environment with likeminded people. Constantly learning and developing my skills and creativity, while producing incredible content, it really is my dream job.

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

Right now is the perfect time to get involved in virtual production whatever your background, there is so much free training available to you, from Unreal Engine to camera tracking systems and more. There is a skills gap which you can fill if you have any transferable skills or the willingness to learn. My main piece of advice is to always be on the lookout for opportunities to get involved and learn as much as you can, that will be the difference between you getting that first job in virtual production.