CoSTAR Screen Lab

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


The CoSTAR Screen Lab in will be a Northern Ireland based creative technology research, development and innovation facility located in Studio Ulster, a large scale virtual production studio complex at Belfast Harbour Studios. Driving the CoSTAR Screen Lab are three overarching principles: Place and Potential; EDI & Environmental Sustainability and Open Innovation. These principles will drive four converged themes addressing: Worldbuilding and Asset Creation; Performance, Performers, Interactivity and Virtual Space; Automation, Real Time Processes & Workflows; and Democratisation and Capability.

The CoSTAR Screen Lab, led by Ulster University will work with five core partners in Belfast Harbour Studios, Studio Ulster Ltd, Northern Ireland Screen, BBC Northern Ireland, 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, Sustainability & EDI.

The CoSTAR Screen Lab will operate in partnership with the CoSTAR National Lab and the other networked 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. The CoSTAR Screen Lab will articulate to the CoSTAR National Lab through co-designed Demonstrator challenge calls, national training initiatives and co-funded technology research projects.

The CoSTAR Screen Lab 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, CoSTAR Screen Lab 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 CoSTAR Screen Lab 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 the CoSTAR Screen Lab facilitates the opportunity for more experimental work, delivered in an environment of informed and supported risk. Crucially, the CoSTAR Screen Lab 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, the CoSTAR Screen Lab will also create targeted training programmes, accredited through the Ulster Screen Academy (USAc) 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 CoSTAR Screen Lab's mission 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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