How the Pandemic Has Reshaped Media Technology


In a year of record turmoil and uncertainty, streaming video content and video games provide an escape from real-life stressors. Trends in sales back that up. Disney recently announced that their streaming service, Disney+, garnered 73.7 million subscribers in 11 months — a number the company didn’t expect to reach until 2024. And video game giant Nintendo released Animal Crossing: New Horizons near the beginning of the pandemic. In just a few months, the game has become the company’s second bestseller for its Switch console.

This increase in demand has ushered in new trends and opportunities for growth, and those touch our local startup ecosystem in a big way. Louisiana is home to a vibrant community of video game designers and media technology influencers. Jason Tate, CEO and co-founder of Pixel Dash Studios and proud Louisianan, is personally and professionally embedded in the local tech startup scene. He shared his insider-view of the pandemic’s impact on media technology with us.

Here’s what’s trending in entertainment technology — and how your startup can jump on board.

Recognize New and Increasing Demands

The COVID pandemic drove increased demand for new media to consume — and to interact with. Video games have always been popular, but since the shutdown and continued social distancing measures, we’ve consumed more than ever. “We saw a huge increase in demand for video games and that resulted in a lot of increased sales for digital products and game systems,” Tate says.

There’s also an increased demand for video content, so filmmakers are pivoting to virtual production techniques. “It really started to become popular last year with The Mandalorian,” Tate says. Virtual production uses game technology, a 3D world projected onto a giant screen and live actors to create the effect of another world without leaving the studio — which is ideal when there’s a pandemic raging outside.

Virtual reality has become more mainstream in recent months, too. Oculus released a new standalone, affordable virtual reality system that’s driving demand for VR content. And while Oculus is marketed as a gaming system, there are also infinite opportunities on the B2B side for virtual training programs using VR systems.

Take Advantage of Evolving Technology

Now is an excellent time to experiment with different media technology and genres to find your niche. Many of the media forms currently in high demand are new and don’t have big names attached to them yet, so there are a lot of opportunities for building your brand. “Some of the technology is so new that it doesn’t have a lot of established companies using it,” Tate says. “If you can be one of the first to gain experience, that can be very valuable going forward.”

And if one form doesn’t quite fit your professional goals, that’s okay. There’s a lot of crossover with the skills needed to design video games, produce content virtually and design VR experiences. For example, the Mandalorian uses the Unreal Engine (the engine that powers Fortnite) and video game design systems to produce episodes. The transferability of these skillsets gives you the freedom to try different things, Tate says, until you find what works for you.

Embrace New and Improving Processes

These new media forms aren’t complicated to break into and are mostly affordable for startups. The gigantic screen for virtual production could be expensive to purchase. Still, as the form becomes more popular, the screens will likely be available for rent, Tate says, or you could partner with a local company that owns one.

Most startups are now operating remotely for safety reasons, which requires a much more deliberate approach and meeting process. “You lose a little bit of the spontaneous creativity and collaboration that you might get just from being in the office together,” Tate says.

On the flip side, remote work opens up larger talent pools and more diverse backgrounds and experiences to enhance your project. “It’s easier to find all types of different experience levels, talents and skills that you might not have just locally,” Tate says.

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