Philip Ellis
News & Views
VR talent in high demand

Freelancers with talents in virtual reality development are among the most highly sought after, according to the latest figures from Upwork. VR was the fastest growing skill-set on the freelance platform in Q2, followed by natural language processing.

In 2016, only 100 freelancers on the site listed “VR” as a speciality. This year, that number has grown to 2,500. “To be sure, the market for many of these kinds of workers is still small, growing from a pool that was basically nonexistent just a year ago,” says Bloomberg’s Isabel Gottlieb.

The relatively rapid rise of this “must-have” capability is to be expected, reflecting the maturation of VR as a sector and a creative medium in its own right. Creators and organisations who saw the benefit of being early adopters are now able to build on those solid foundations, as the rest of the world plays catch-up.

REWIND is one such company, which started life as a visual effects and post-production house back in 2011. “We were three people — two co-founders and creative director,” says Kate Ellis is Head of Production. “After getting our hands on the original Oculus DK1 (developer kit), we realised how much potential the medium had. We tasked our 3D artist with learning Unity, and we immediately started working on VR experiences to demonstrate the power of the technology.

Since then, we have grown 25% every year. This past year has seen our biggest set of hires. We’ve hired 18 people across production, recruitment, art, audio and game development. We are now nearly 50 people strong.”

But technical capability is only one requirement when it comes to this nascent art form. As panellists discussed at VRUK last month, perspectives from the worlds of animation and live theatre may also be necessary in order to tell immersive, emotionally engaging stories.

“We are not just after one bespoke skill set because the industry is changing so quickly, we are looking for versatility,” adds Ellis. “ We are looking for people with a passion for creating the unknown and not to be constrained by what they know – hard to find!”

As more brands work with production houses to create immersive experiences, VR is fast becoming less of a risky, unknown property, and more of an attractive new canvas for storytelling, with a whole new set of rules and rewards for advertisers just waiting to be discovered.

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