CoSTAR Realtime Lab

Lead Research Organisation: Abertay University
Department Name: Sch of Arts Media and Computer Games


Realtime and virtual graphical environments have been evolving with increasing speed over the last decade. As consumers we are becoming increasingly familiar with high fidelity virtualisation in film/TV and animation, video games and virtual reality. We have seen these techniques and technologies migrate from highly specialised and experimental uses to mainstream adoption and application. The use of these techniques in mainstream film and high-end theatre production has accelerated technological innovation and application across a broad range of motion and performance capture, real-time graphics processing, network and telecoms, edge computing in content and experience creation for entertainment media and live events.

At the heart of these innovation is the development of real-time integration technologies primarily used for the creation of video games. Game engine technologies such as Unreal Engine and Unity are designed to integrate dynamic graphical environments with events and environmental effects in real time. For the last 5 years R&D-led growth and innovation in these areas has been driven through the AHRC Creative Industries Clusters InGAME in Dundee and Creative Informatics in Edinburgh. Both programmes have established strong, trusted networks and effective processes for driving demand led R&D into commercialised products.

The CoSTAR Realtime Lab to be based in Water's Edge studio complex in Dundee and ECA in Edinburgh will bring together video games development expertise in Dundee's globally significant games cluster with world leading applied R&D at Abertay University and film, television and animation production in Edinburgh with University of Edinburgh's world leading expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence. The CoSTAR Realtime Lab will deliver close-to-market innovation for digital productivity tools, creative production pipelines and content creation processes. The project will also bring together the existing networks, product development insight and R&D power from InGAME and Creative Informatics clusters to form a dual city creative technologies cluster supported by innovative product and service platforms that will generate new companies, products and markets for high-end, efficient, sustainable and accessible content creation. CoSTAR Realtime Lab will focus on applying innovative technology and process in entertainment contexts initially focussing on driving value through innovation in the following areas.

- Performance and motion capture.
- Virtual humans and dynamic procedural performance.
- Machine Learning for production and Artificial Intelligence for process reproduction.
- Artificial intelligence for dynamic effects and procedural graphics for visual effects.
- Using advanced scanning technologies for 3D volume acquisition and ML/AI for procedural environment generation.
- Developing lighting and ray tracing standards to deliver environmental fidelity.
- Location based Software and hardware integration.
- Integrated virtual and real-world film and TV production.

The vision for the CoSTAR Realtime Lab will be to establish a mixed reality R&D centre that supports sector engagement in collaborative R&D led innovation. The Lab will facilitate engagement between multinational technology vendors and UK content creators with creative technologists and digital content SMEs to identify opportunities for innovation driven growth in scale and value for the Scottish and UK sector.

Collaborative R&D will promote product innovative in SMEs by supporting new product, process and service development, driving value and stimulating diversification of product and markets. By combining world leading research with multinational technology companies and highly creative and dynamic SMEs, the CoSTAR Realtime Lab will transform the creative media industries in Scotland and the UK and deliver global leadership in next generation entertainment creation and technology innovators.


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