Production Park
12 December 2023

2023 on the park

It’s been a big year for Production Park, from opening a brand new facility to building international partnerships, being awarded R&D funding, hosting F1’s first ever virtual production shoot, and welcoming the year’s biggest artists as they rehearse their global tours. Here are a few of our 2023 highlights.

Brand new spaces

Studio 005 opened in January so we’ve had nearly a full year of rehearsals, events and projects making use of our design and prototype spaces, workshops, pre-visualisation suites and state of the art 1,317sqm studio.

Highlights include hosting rehearsals for Aitch and the Wicked musical, as well as Pink, whose team was here for a month to test and rehearse her spectacular Summer Carnival tour. Along with Studio 001, we’ve doubled capacity for large-scale rehearsal space, meaning we’ve been able to welcome more artists and shows, which this year have also included Sam Smith, BBC Boat Story, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Embrace, Metallica and more.

Studio 005 and R&D spaces were also used by the XPLOR team as they undertook a hugely ambitious project in July that drew on the expertise of the entire Production Park ecosystem.

Alongside 4Wall, TAIT, disguise and Blitz, the team used advanced technology to design, construct, create, test, visualise and de-rig a large-scale virtual production set – within just 7 days. Drawing on the collective experience and expertise of each partner, the project tested an ‘at scale, at pace’ approach usually used in the production of live experiences.

A celebration of the innovation of the whole Production Park community, the project demonstrated how new tech integrated with improved workflows and true collaboration can begin to define the future possibilities of stage and screen production.

And this year was just the start. Next year will bring more exciting and ambitious R&D projects with the launch of CoSTAR’s Live Lab.

Introducing: Live Lab

This year it was announced that we’re to be the home of CoSTAR’s Live Lab, one of five advanced production facilities awarded a share of £75.6 million government funding for research and development in film, TV, gaming and live experiences.

Supported by £63 million of new industry investment, the opening of the labs (officially next spring) will bring huge opportunities to the creative industries, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to tap into this network.

The Live Lab at Production Park will be led by the University of York, and will be dedicated to developing new technologies and improved processes for screen, stage and metaverse, with virtual production, CGI, spatial audio, motion capture and XR.

If you’re interested in working with the Live Lab team, are looking to test new technology for a project, or need some research input, please get in touch with our R&D team at

“We are delighted to be joining University of York in leading this work which will push innovation in the entertainment industry. It’s a proud moment for Yorkshire and the North as we continue in our ambition to make Production Park a global hub for the creative industry.” – Lee Brooks, CEO Production Park.

Global partnerships

In May, Backstage Academy became the Academy of Live Technology, a strategic decision to better align the evolving institution with the growing industry it serves. ALT reflects the world its students are preparing for, where creativity merges with technology, passion and ambition to produce outstanding experiences.

Along with a new name and brand, the campus on Production Park has created dedicated spaces to enhance the student experience, while a second campus has opened in the USA, in partnership with Pennsylvania College of Art & Design (PCA&D).

With a new course in Live Event Design & Production, the course is delivered at Rock Lititz, a live experience campus like Production Park, so students in the US will get the same hands-on experience, right where the the heart of the industry is.

Another partnership that was forged in 2023 was with Powerhouse Studios, a strategic content agency specialising in producing creative content for global brands like M&S, KFC, Kellogg’s, Carlsberg and more. With an ambition to embed virtual production in the advertising sector, the partnership will provide Powerhouse with access to the VP facilities and expertise of the XPLOR team, as they look at ways to use technology to explore creative and more sustainable production.

Welcoming back

Building relationships and networks is what the Production Park community is all about, which is why we often welcome back the same teams and artists as they bring their latest shows into production.

This time two years ago we had the Cirque du Soleil team in for a month as they perfected their show LUZIA, which went onto the Royal Albert Hall. With Production Park the training base for all crew and artists for a whole month, we offered everything from specialist infrastructure to catering – including a traditional Christmas dinner! They arrived this month to do the same again for their upcoming show, Alegria.

Another returning project was Fred Tschida’s Circlesphere, which came back to the park in January as part of the launch of XPLOR and Studio 005. It’s now been reinstalled at the Southbank Centre as part of the Winter Light exhibit in the Winter Festival.

A year of firsts

In January Red Bull Racing shot a film of what became the winning F1 car in our Virtual Production studio. It was F1’s first VP shoot, which took the RB19 on a road trip across the states (and to the moon!) as part of its official launch. The XPLOR team worked with Final Pixel to blend real footage with Unreal Engine produced scenes, CGI and VFX. 

BBC’s Boat Story aired last month, a drama about a duo that discover a haul of cocaine on a shipwrecked boat. The show was filmed on location across the whole of Yorkshire, with some virtual production scenes with the boat in the studio at Production Park.

Finally, we have our first bar on campus! Centr Stage is where staff, students, clients and partners come together for lunch, coffees and after work drinks. With student events and regular park-wide socials, it’s the heart of campus and the perfect meeting point.

See you there next year?

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