The UK Government has announced its Creative Industries Sector Vision with ambitious plans to grow the economy and boost the creative industries by £50 billion.
As part of this, the University of Edinburgh and Creative Informatics have been named as core partners on two preferred bids for the UK Government’s Convergent Screen Technologies and performance in Realtime (CoSTAR) programme, worth a total of £12.8 million.
The CoSTAR programme will see new state-of-the-art research and development facilities set up to drive the next generation of screen technology and on-set virtual production, with £75.6 million investment announced.
The University of Edinburgh and Creative Informatics will be involved in setting up a regional CoSTAR hub that will establish a Network Lab with new virtual production and performance studios in Dundee and Edinburgh, and a specialist Research and Development (R&D) function that will support the national CoSTAR infrastructure through identifying impacts and directions of travel for the screen and performance sectors.
Regional CoSTAR hub
The regional R&D CoSTAR hub will be jointly led by the University of Edinburgh and Abertay University. It will build on existing Creative Industries Clusters programmes (InGAME & Creative Informatics) to establish a technology and data-driven Network Lab that will deliver innovation and enterprise across two centres in Dundee and Edinburgh. The universities will be working in collaboration with Codebase, the UK’s largest technology incubator.
The Network Lab will be based in the Water’s Edge studio complex in Dundee, and the Edinburgh College of Art in Edinburgh. The lab will bring together video games development expertise in Dundee with world-leading applied R&D at Abertay University. It will also combine film, television and animation production expertise in Edinburgh with the University of Edinburgh’s expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
These centres will establish a digital technology and creative industries ecosystem by driving the creation of innovative processes, pipelines, tools and workflows for the games, animation, film and TV sectors.
Insight and Foresight Unit for CoSTAR
In addition to this, The Insight and Foresight Unit for CoSTAR, a new specialist R&D programme to support the CoSTAR national infrastructure will be established. The unit will be led by Goldsmiths, in partnership with the British Film Institute, University of Edinburgh and Loughborough University.
The Insight and Foresight Unit will focus on identifying and reporting on impacts of CoSTAR and directions of travel for the screen and performance sectors. It will do so by considering improved ecological sustainability, a more diverse workforce, new workflows and ways of working, and audience engagement with creative productions realised through the CoSTAR infrastructure.
The announcement of the preferred bidders for CoSTAR is subject to full business case approval.
Professor Melissa Terras, Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage and Acting Director of Creative Informatics, University of Edinburgh said:
“The rapid changes we are seeing at the moment in Creative Technologies mean that we have to build on-ramps for our world leading creative industries to access, adopt and adapt them. The investment we see here across Edinburgh and Dundee will ensure that the cultural and creative communities in Scotland will remain at the forefront of innovation in the games, film, and TV space, whilst also ensuring that we can democratise these technologies: training the next generation in cutting edge approaches. It’s incredibly important to be reflecting and reporting on those rapid changes, and making best practice guidelines which can inform the sector as well as government policy, and I’m delighted that Edinburgh will be both hosting facilities, and reporting on UK industry activities. The innovative work that we have done over the past five years in delivering Creative Informatics has given us a solid foundation to be operating at this UK leadership level, and I’m excited about the opportunities ahead, here in Scotland.”
Full details of the UK Government’s investment in the creative industries, including the CoSTAR programme, can be found here.