Production Park
14 June 2023

New screen and performance technologies lab to open at Production Park as part of £75.6m UK-wide investment

Advanced screen and performance technology research lab to be set up at Production Park, enabling research and development into applying new virtual production technologies to live experiences. Announced today as part of UK Government’s Sector Vision to grow the creative industries by £50 billion and create a million more jobs by 2030.

A new research lab dedicated to revolutionising film, TV and performing arts through immersive technology is set to open at Production Park.

The lab is part of UKRI’s Convergent Screen Technologies and performance in Realtime (CoSTAR) programme, supported by £75.6 million of government funding and £63 million of new industry investment.

The research hub will form the largest virtual production research and development network in Europe, with three other facilities across the country in Belfast and Dundee, with the national lab at Pinewood Studios.

Research and development is a strategic priority of Production Park, with dedicated facilities and team under XPLOR, working to solve some of the biggest challenges in the industry through technical consultancy, prototyping, testing and advanced production.

The XPLOR team work with commercial clients to help find ways to integrate advanced production into their workflows. This has included working with Final Pixel to create the launch film for this season’s Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 car, taking it on a journey across the US without ever leaving the studio. XPLOR have also worked with ITV, workshopping and testing how virtual production can bring added value to their regular shows.

The CoSTAR lab will bring a new layer of research and development to this offer, helping to drive the potential of virtual production.

Virtual production – a range of techniques that use computer-generated imagery (CGI), hyper-real sound, augmented reality and motion capture to create virtual sets and environments – allows creatives to produce large-scale digitally generated environments that performers and audiences can interact with.

From live show ABBA Voyage to Disney’s The Mandalorian, real time video processing is already pushing the boundary of what’s possible and the new facilities at Production Park and across the country will ensure the UK has the skills and infrastructure to continue to be the forefront of driving this forward.

The lab will bring together expertise from Production Park with the University of York, Vodafone, Screen Yorkshire, and support from Wakefield Council and the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Through a consortium led by the University of York, the lab will specialise in the future of virtual production and how it can be applied to live experiences and entertainment.

The Creative Industries Sector Vision was published today [Wednesday 14 June 2023], with experts at Production Park and the Creative Industries Council contributing to the report and advocating for the live and screen industries. The Sector Vision builds on the CoSTAR support with £77 million in new government funding, including £50 million to launch another wave of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme in at least six more areas.

Alongside this investment, the Sector Vision commits the government to a new creative careers promise – a pledge backed by a comprehensive package of actions to open up more opportunities, particularly for young people, to pursue careers in the creative industries.

Supporting and shaping the future of the industry is embedded in the fabric of Production Park, which is home to higher education establishment, the Academy of Live Technology. Offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in live events production, live visual design and production, and stage and production management, the Academy is dedicated to training and sustaining talent in the industry.

Lee Brooks, CEO and founder of Production Park said: “It’s brilliant to see the creative industries getting the recognition they deserve with the support announced in the Sector Vision today. We’re thrilled that Production Park is to be one of the four hubs dedicated to advancing both the screen and live industries through specialised R&D labs.

“The CoSTAR project is a great example of how the creative industries can and do work together to cross collaborate and drive the sector forward – supporting jobs and contributing to the economy through the creation of extraordinary experiences.”

Keep Reading