Looking Ahead: Virtual Production in Northern Ireland
Throughout the Fall of 2023, I’ve been attending trainings in virtual production put on through Ulster University, NI Screen, and Ulster Screen Academy, all with the goal of training crew up to work in the new Studio Ulster stages. In December, we got a sneak peek into what all of this work is going towards.
This was a great evening, where we got to network with people from all areas of the industry, from crew involved in VFX, art and construction, and creative technology, as well as representatives from Poli Productions, Aura Digital, Studio Ulster, and NI Screen. This event gave great insights into the future of VP in Northern Ireland.
Looking Ahead with Declan Keeney and Studio Ulster
One of the most exciting parts of the evening, for many, I’m sure, was the speech that Declan Keeney gave about the future of the industry in Northern Ireland. He walked us through the timeline of the next year, as Studio Ulster gets ready to open its doors. Studio Ulster is set to be a massive hub for Virtual Production, complete with 2 VP stages (or volumes), motion capture and 3D scanning facilities, as well as R&D spaces. We got a first-hand look into these spaces with a virtual walk through of the space.
With each of these spaces comes the need for talented individuals to work in them – hence the trainings we have all been going through. This technology is cutting edge and this facility could bring NI to a new level in the industry.
Personally, I cannot wait to hear more about the research facilities and what opportunities may come out of it. My passion is at the intersection of technology and creativity, and I am so eager to work on new and exciting ways to combine the two.
Amazing Demo with Poli Productions
Poli Productions assisted in building a demo for this event. They constructed a corridor in a space ship that extends from physical space into digital with use of the volume. The approach they used for this construction, and the techniques they implemented lead to some fascinating possibilities:
- Modular set pieces that can be deconstructed and used differently (the same cooridor in space can become a wreck on a planet)
- Flat-pack design meaning easier transpo and construction, as well as precise 3D models for post and VFX
- DMX lighting integration with Unreal to synchronize physical and digital lighting
This piece was given to Ulster Screen Academy for use in future trainings and courses, which will be an invaluable resource for students.
Organizational Excellence from Gerard Dunleavy
None of this would be possible without the vision and hard work from Gerard Dunleavy. Gerard has spearheaded the efforts to upskill the talent in NI. He has tirelessly worked to get us all of these fabulous trainings and events, and always is there to offer advice and insight.
Exciting Opportunities for Businesses and Individuals
The impact Studio Ulster and the investment in Virtual Production could have on Northern Ireland cannot be overstated. The commitment to hire locally is giving opportunities for individuals to receive consistent high-skill jobs.
Additionally, this will bring a larger economic impact to the region. Any time a production takes place, the local economy gets a major boost. From accomodation needs for talent, to the rental of equipement, to the everyday expenditures, the productions that this will attract will be a huge benefit to the area.
Gaining Skills and Access Through Training
I am immensely grateful for the skills and access these trainings and opportunities have provided me. Creative technology is my passion and for years I have been longing for and working towards the chance to work with and develop revolutionary creative technology. The possibilities are endless and I cannot wait to explore and create more.
What has been provided through these trainings is all of these dreams come to fruitition for me. And the networking alone has been such a blessing, after moving to a new country where I knew no one in the industry.
Coming up in February I will be attending another VP training with UU and Final Pixel through Screen Skills. I also will be attending the RENDR Festival, and getting to explore the space between creativity and technology even more closely.
January 2, 2024