From DIT to Unreal Engine – On Set Technician

As I write this, the worlds of linear content and games are colliding.  

Even as a Digital Media Technician (DMT) or Digital Intermediary/Imaging Technician(DIT) our world of technology has advanced rapidly over the last 10 years. Moore’s law has continued to stretch the capabilities and expectations placed on our desktops but basically the job is the same – making sure the Director of Photography has an accurate image to work from and that good data makes its way to postproduction and to the archives.

There are many disadvantages to filming on location. This day as a Digital Intermediary Technician on a Soft Citizen taco commercial involved a lot of ball-dusting.

Aside from being a filmmaking family, we are also a Star Wars family. So, as Mandalorian fans, we were early to understand the potential of Virtual Production techniques. This is the way!

Returning to studies at Toronto Metropolitan University, researching Digital Media, in the heart of the Mando craze, I thought certainly virtual production skills would be on the table and was excited to study.  But, it turned out nowhere was teaching these skills as a coherent package at the time, and so I set out with Virtual Production and Experience Design as my research topics.

I love process and workflow as much as creative expression, because processes and workflow help me get the technical aspects of creative work out of the way.

As a lover of problem-solving, it’s exciting to be in a time in Virtual Production when workflows are not yet standardized and we are experimenting and refining in real time. At Synlab at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), we are researching an AR-based rapid prototyping and design tool for experience designers and virtual production environments. For that project we are talking to established designers about their workflows, collaborative habits and tool use. We have built early prototypes on Unity and Unreal Engine and are conducting a study as I write this post.

Some of the research projects that have come through the Synaesthetic Media Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University

Unreal Engine is a beast to learn! After two years learning in a lab environment, I am so grateful to Warner Bros. Discovery Access Canada, the City of Toronto XOTO, and Sheridan College Screen Industries Research and Training (SIRT) and Continuing and Professional Studies (CAPS) for the opportunity to certify as an Unreal Engine On Set Technician for Virtual Production. The expertise and environment provided by the SIRT staff was the perfect complement to the theoretical work at TMU Synlab, and will enable me to finish the prototype as well as get into the job market as an Unreal Engine On-Set Technician.

Even more than the new creative and technical abilities, the best part of these recent educational exploits has been to connect with new ways of leading, teaching and learning, and with an amazing network of professionals and researchers, including but not limited to Ali Mazalek, Aneesh Tarun, Daniella Kalinda, Alex Bakogeorge, Daniel Southwick, Paul Dietz, Daniel Harley, Michael Carter, Alex Ferworn, Alex Chris Ambedkar, Spencer Idenouyi, James Rowan, Jason Hunter, Brad Dworkin, Emerson Chan, Kevin Santos, Shenaz Baksh, and so many more.