Big Tech Turns to Hollywood for Technology and Talent



Creating AR and VR Systems

Tech companies like Google (GOOGL), Facebook (FB), and Apple (AAPL) are working to create virtual reality and augmented reality platforms, glasses, and headsets. To build these systems, tech companies are turning to people and technology behind Hollywood movies like Avatar and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Leaders in the VR and AR world believe that mass adoption of these systems depends on making the experience of using this technology as lifelike as possible. This means building computer-generated people and places that look real. Achieving this kind of believability is important for AR, where computer-made images are superimposed onto the real world, as well as VR, where an almost entirely immersive user experience is created.

The “Cool Tax” for Engineers and Artists in Hollywood

Though computer-generated visual effects have become ubiquitous in TV shows and films, studios are paying less for this technology than they once did. This means that salaries for visual effects specialists are dropping.

Working in Hollywood can also come with unpredictable hours, low job security, and limited benefits. Some call this the “cool tax” employees pay for working in the entertainment industry. In addition to challenges that have been a part of the entertainment industry for years, the pandemic has placed unique strains on the movie and TV industry with theater closures, production delays, and more. This has added further career uncertainty for people working in the industry.

While salaries for visual effects artists and engineers are dropping in the world of film and TV, the opposite is true in the tech industry. According to research from Accenture PLC, these companies will spend an estimated $121 billion on immersive technologies by 2023—up from $21 billion in 2020.

AR and VR Products from the Tech World

An important tool for using AR and VR to create images of faces is called a Light Stage—a spherical device which contains over 40 cameras. This device was used for effects in movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Gemini Man. Google has built its own Light Stage, which captures not only the human face, but the entire human body. It is working with former Hollywood engineers and artists to build digital images of humans that look real.

Apple is also working on similar projects. One of the company’s latest achievements created through technology and talent drawn from Hollywood is its Animojis, which let users combine their own facial expressions with animated characters. The possibilities of VR and AR are vast, and tech companies are racing to recruit the best people and adopt the best technology from the entertainment industry.


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