CoSTAR Screen Lab

Lead Research Organisation: University of Ulster
Department Name: Faculty of Arts


The CoSTAR Experience Lab at Studio Ulster (CEL@SU) in Belfast will be a regional research, development and innovation facility situated in the core of the Studio Ulster Virtual Production complex at Belfast Harbour Studios. CEL@SU will operate driven by three overarching principles: Place and Potential; EDI and Sustainability; and Open Innovation. These principles will drive four converged themes which address several of the capabilities: Worldbuilding and Asset Creation; Performance, Performers, Interactivity and Virtual Space; Automation, Real Time Processes and Workflows; and Democratisation and Networks.

CEL@SU, led by Ulster University will work with five core partners in Belfast Harbour, Studio Ulster Ltd., NI Screen, BBC NI, Humain Ltd. and a range of collaborative partners including, Dell, BT, Retinize, Clear Angle Studios and DfC/ACNI to deliver world-leading programmes of R&D&I, Talent Capacity Building and Sustainability and EDI.

CEL@SU will operate in partnership with the CoSTAR National Lab and the other Network Labs to ensure that expertise is both shared and consolidated through a process of distributed best practice while advancing the understanding of virtual production and real time processes through collaborative learning and training. CEL@SU will articulate to the CoSTAR National Lab through co-designed Demonstrator challenge calls, national training initiatives and co-funded technology research projects.

CEL@SU will offer local companies the opportunity to apply for developmental support through challenge calls aimed at building future understandings of the virtual production and real time spaces. These calls will be co-funded by Ulster University and partners Studio Ulster Ltd., NI Screen, BBC NI and DfC, CEL@SU will work with all partners to deliver the over-arching and related objectives identified for the CoSTAR project, 'providing a highly capable R&D infrastructure that enables researchers, companies and institutions across the UK to access to the facilities, capabilities and insight necessary to ensure that they can conduct world class R&D in the application of current and future waves of advanced computing technologies to transform the means of production across the screen, performance and allied sectors of the Creative Industries'.

While the core business of CEL@SU will be to undertake R&D&I leading to products which advance SME and audience engagement with virtual production, the relationship between the commercial work of Studio Ulster and the more R&D&I focused work of CEL@SU facilitates the opportunity for more experimental work, delivered in an environment of informed and supported risk. Crucially, CEL@SU will create opportunities to increase the visibility of virtual production and its potential but also to build the skills pipeline, policy and environmental infrastructure necessary to the long-term sustainability of the project after the funded period.

Hence, CEL@SU will also create targeted training programmes, accredited through the Ulster Screen Academy (USA) at Ulster University. These training initiatives will be designed to advance the skills base in the region but also to build capacity across the CoSTAR network. Training will be developed and delivered on a partnership basis, ensuring distributed access and high standards of practice to challenge current knowledge and expectation of what is possible in the convergence of technologies in the virtual production and real time spaces.

A key aspect of the work of CEL@SU will be to drive innovation in sustainability and EDI approaches and formal Work Packages have been designed to work with key community groups to advance access for disenfranchised groups while adhering to the sustainability benchmarks created by the Albert project and BREEAM accreditation frameworks.


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