Top 6 Tech Trends of 2020

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January 7, 2021

2020 brought changes to everyone’s life — essentially creating a new world. As expected, it’s had a huge impact on technology in the entertainment industry and beyond.

Here are some of the top tech trends coming out of 2020:

AR
  • Apple offered LiDAR on its new iPad Pro and iPhone 12 Pro models, which was previously a technology only accessible via expensive, bespoke hardware setups. Anyone with relevant devices can now do their own 3D scanning at home and get a greatly improved AR experience with faster, more accurate world mapping.
  • A handful of apps have made AR more integrated into our daily lives, including Google Lens, Snapchat and Instagram filters, and even custom Zoom backgrounds.
VR
  • Oculus Quest 2 was released and is even better than its predecessor — lighter, faster, cheaper, and higher resolution. Oculus continues offering high-quality VR without the need for an external computer and at an affordable price point. Headsets like this help make VR more accessible to the masses. 
  • Check out Oculus’ list of the most popular VR games/apps, and a special shout-out to ILMxLAB’s recently released “Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge.”
Virtual Collaboration
  • 2020 was the year of video conferencing, with popular software like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet becoming common parts of everyday life.
  • VR and other immersive experiences have popped up to recreate realistic environments, such as Spatial with its 3D avatars.
  • Remote brainstorming with your team is made a lot easier, thanks to tools like Miro and Mural.
Streaming
  • COVID-19 and the subsequent safety precautions have dramatically accelerated the streaming platform landscape over 2020.
  • Disney has been experimental with its theatrical releases, with “Mulan” and “Soul” going straight to Disney+. And the formation of DMED shows our company’s emphasis on the new direct-to-consumer strategy.
  • Launched in May, HBO Max provides the high-quality titles from HBO’s library of content, additional brands such as “Friends,” “South Park,” and “Looney Tunes,” and every Warner Bros. theatrical release simultaneously available on streaming.
  • Launched in July, Peacock offers a large collection of live and archive content from its NBC and Universal brands. They offer a tiered strategy: free for limited content with ads, Premium for all content with ads, and Premium Plus for all content add-free.
  • Quibi launched in April and retired in December, proving not all platforms are destined to succeed … even with industry power executives such as Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman at the helm.
  • There are a few streaming platforms that now offer a watch party feature, including: Disney+’s GroupWatch, Hulu Watch Party, and Teleparty for Netflix and other services. This makes it easy to remotely watch content at the exact same time as far away friends and family.
5G
  • Smart phones were released with 5G capabilities, making access more accessible to consumers. 5G promises increased bandwidth and fast download speeds, allowing for higher-quality content delivery.
  • Google released the Pixel 4A and 5, while Apple launched the iPhone 12 in strong partnership with Verizon.
Production
  • Virtual production, like LED video walls used for “The Mandalorian,” has increased in popularity. Beyond ILM, the likes of Weta Digital and other VFX houses have embraced this technology and implemented their own stages.
  • Remote workstation technology has been accelerated, now embraced by all phases of digital production workflows — from VFX to editorial.
  • Industry initiatives around open-source software and universal data formats continue to get support and adoption by studios, vendors, and applications. Notable efforts include the Academy Software Foundation and ongoing work around Pixar’s Universal Scene Description.