Economy Minister Gordon Lyons today launched a new £1.6million Virtual Production Studio at Ulster University.
The state-of-the-art facility is supported by more than £536,000 of funding through the Department for the Economy and will provide teaching of screen industry skills for students at the university.
Speaking after visiting the studio at Ulster University’s Belfast campus, the Minister said: “I am delighted to launch the Ulster Virtual Production Studio at Ulster University. This new facility, supported by my Department, will provide teaching and learning spaces for students in screen industry-related subject areas and further bolster the skills pipeline in this dynamic and growing sector.
“Students will have access to cutting edge production and VFX facilities that are unavailable anywhere else in Northern Ireland or RoI. I am pleased, also, that the university will facilitate collaboration opportunities with the screen industry on some of the live productions being made here in Northern Ireland.”
The Minister added: “The Virtual Production Studio is a high quality addition to the offering at Ulster University, catering for the evolving skills landscape and dovetailing well with my Department’s 10X Economic Vision for a decade of innovation.”
The Minister was shown around the Virtual Production Studio by UU’s Interim Executive Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Frank Lyons, who commented: “With the screen industries continuing to grow in Northern Ireland, it is important that we have a pipeline of graduates who are equipped with the skills and knowledge to specialise in creatively-led, technologically-driven production and research and development.
“We’re responding to industry reports that there’s a skills shortage in Virtual Production. We’re prioritising teaching and research using cutting edge technology backed by multinational expert companies to ensure our students graduate with the creative, technical and professional skills and knowledge to work on film and TV sets locally and lead the way in Games and Animation, nationally and internationally, to drive the creative industries forward.
“With the introduction of the Ulster Screen Academy and Virtual Production Studio at Ulster University we’re driving a skills revolution in production pipelines across converging sectors with application in the film, broadcast, commercial, animation, games, immersive and VFX sectors.”
During his visit, the Minister met Fiona McLaughlin, Co-Founding Director of Taunt Studios, who recently used the Virtual Production Studios to create a short film.
Fiona commented: “It was an incredible opportunity to be one of the first companies to shoot in Ulster University’s Virtual Production facility. As an independent animation studio we have spent the last number of years working with real-time technologies and a growing VFX pipeline, putting us in a great position to utilise the techniques of Virtual Production. To explore this emerging area in film-making, we teamed up with the directorial duo JAK and specialists from the Ulster University Screen Academy to create the short film ‘A Thing Called Joy’. The results were exceptional, and this is sure to be the beginning of a whole new toolkit for VFX/Film-making.”
More information about Ulster University’s Screen Academy is available at: https://www.ulster.ac.uk/screen-academy