A new, state-of-the-art £25.2million virtual production studio has been announced for Giant’s Park in Belfast.
Developed by the University of Ulster in partnership with Belfast Harbor and supported by Northern Ireland Screen, Studio Ulster will be a unique complex of large-scale virtual production studios with world-class commercial stages, supported by an R&D center of excellence integrated for real-time and virtual manufacturing.
Announcing the flagship Giant’s Park project, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “The Studio Ulster project is a major investment in the future of the local film industry which enhances the excellent facilities already on offer here in Northern Ireland. . contributor to our economy, with estimates from Northern Ireland Screen suggesting the last three film and TV productions have together brought in over £100m to the economy.
“This £25.2 million investment in Studio Ulster through the Belfast Region City Deal further strengthens Northern Ireland’s impressive offering to international film companies.”
Studio Ulster will reinforce Northern Ireland’s status as a filming location of choice by providing a link between the region’s leading strengths in film, broadcast, animation, games and immersive technologies in a central location.
A multi-million pound investment by Belfast Harbor will create a 57,000 square foot building, housing two large-scale virtual production stages with an in-camera visual effects stage, a motion capture stage, a scanning stage 3D for full body, face and object scanning and a smart R&D stage with virtual production technologies to support research. It will support 461 direct and indirect jobs in the screen sector.
Minister Lyons met with Studio Ulster partners, University of Ulster, Port of Belfast, Northern Ireland Screen and Belfast City Council to discuss the role that the creative industries, and in particular the virtual production, will play into achieving the results highlighted in the department’s 10X economic vision.
Professor Paul Bartholomew, Vice-Chancellor of Ulster University, commented: “The unique partnership approach between universities and industry, public and private sector that underpins Studio Ulster is without previous and to achieve our collective ambition, we must have a pool of graduates who are equipped with the skills and knowledge to specialize in production and research and development focused on creativity and technology. For many years, we are responding to industry reports of skills needs and shortages through the Ulster Screen Academy, providing students with innovative films and shows, animation, games and courses in immersive technologies to help provide the skilled workforce we so desperately need to drive the screen industries forward.”
Joe O’Neill, Managing Director of Belfast Harbour, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners to make this important investment for Northern Ireland’s film industry, which underlines our continued ambition to be an economic hub. major development for the region and create Europe’s largest media hub outside of London. The UK film and content production market has continued to strengthen and this project will serve to further increase Northern Ireland’s global competitiveness in the creative industries sector and to attract leading production companies to both the traditional market stages and the virtual production facility. »
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councilor Christina Black, said: “Studio Ulster is a game-changing development for Belfast and the region. This world-class facility will put us in an incredibly strong position to compete globally, as it will meet an identified international need for virtual production facilities that will be rapidly adopted.It will also allow us to cultivate talent, our research and development capacity and create truly exciting opportunities for the people who work here.We have says a decade of opportunity now begins with the Belfast Region City Deal – and today we are taking another major step in delivering on our ambitions to transform the City Region’s economy and quality of life of the people who live there.”
Richard Williams, Managing Director of Northern Ireland Screen, said: “Virtual production has really shaken up the screen industries and Studio Ulster will transform our industry here in Northern Ireland. Providing state-of-the-art production, studio and R&D facilities will go a long way to ensuring that Northern Ireland maintains its position as the world leader in international film production. Virtual production will also help create a much more sustainable industry. The training and skills development opportunities offered by Studio Ulster will expand the capacity of the talent pool, to meet the clearly expressed needs of the industry. It is wonderful to see education and industry from the public and private sectors joining forces to bring such an innovative project to life.
Construction at the Studio Ulster site begins later this month and the facility is expected to be fully operational and open for filming from early 2024.