Boasting 41 projects and 81 decision makers, NewImages’ XR market took on a more expansive scope this year as organizers looked to welcome new actors and project types into the fold.
“We’ve seen a much wider profile of projects this year,” NewImages market head Elie Levasseur tells Variety. “Because NewImages is very linked to the film world, thus far we’d mostly seen narrative works. This year, however, we saw more projects linked to theater, opera, fine arts and gaming than ever before.”
Which isn’t to say the film projects remain in neutral. As the market director explains it, many of NewImages’ traditional partners have looked to take advantage of newly accessible tools and tech. “The doc projects we received this year were much more ambitious,” he says. “They’re beyond simple 360 video; they’re using tools like motion capture and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) as much as everyone else. That’s a real trend.”
As with everyone, XR producers have been affected by the ongoing pandemic, which has created a greater degree risk aversion than in previous vintages, leading budgets to go down and pre-market secured financing to rise.
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“In prior editions, the average project budget was $450,000, whereas this year it was only $280,000,” says Levasseur. “Conversely, in the past, the percentage of budget that was already secure was 12%, whereas this year it was 25%.”
If that was all to be expected, the market head was surprised by one development in particular. “We received quite a few projects that we had already seen four or five years ago. I think some producers are reticent to engage on a wholly new project, and are looking through their cupboards for existing items to continue developing.”
However, when it comes to assessing market activity, Levasseur explains the need for a longer timeline.
“There’s a difference between a traditional film market and an XR one. If you go to Cannes, you’re looking at distribution deals made on the spot, but in our case, it’s part of a much longer process,” he says.
“The XR market hasn’t fully matured. Our goal is to help create that market before we can offer an event where people can negotiate deals straightaway.”
“For example, this year we invited 40-50 museums, and these people have never been to any market before,” Levasseur adds. “Some had never even tested XR. But we brought them because we need to evangelize to new actors. We need to identify new kinds of actors and introduce them into our ecosystem. That’s the most exciting aspect of our work.”