Home Production studio Green light for new £25m virtual production studio in Belfast

Green light for new £25m virtual production studio in Belfast

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A new £25million film studio complex specializing in cutting-edge virtual production techniques is to be built in Belfast.

Studio Ulster will be built in Giant’s Park, to the north of the city, on land adjacent to the existing studios in Belfast Harbour.

The project will be developed by the University of Ulster in partnership with Belfast Harbour, with support from Northern Ireland Screen.

It is delivered as part of the Belfast Regional City Deal – an economic investment strategy involving the Government, Stormont Executive, six local councils and several academic institutions.

Construction will begin next month and the studios are expected to be fully operational and open for filming from early 2024.

The Giant’s Park site in North Belfast where Studio Ulster will be built (David Young/PA)

The complex, which is expected to bolster Belfast’s burgeoning reputation as a world-class center for film production, will include several large-scale stages and a center of excellence in research and development.

She will specialize in film, broadcast, animation, games and immersive technologies.

The 57,000 square foot building will house two full-scale virtual production stages with an in-camera visual effects stage, a motion capture stage, a 3D scanning stage for full body, face and body scanning. objects and an intelligent R&D scene with virtual production technologies to support research.

The complex will support 461 direct and indirect jobs in the screen sector.

Stormont Economy Minister Gordon Lyons announced the project during a visit to the site on Tuesday.

“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,” he said.

“The industry is now a major contributor to our economy, with estimates from Northern Ireland Screen suggesting that 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.”

Professor Paul Bartholomew, Vice-Chancellor of Ulster University, welcomed the investment.

“The unique partnership approach between academia and industry, public and private sectors that underpins Studio Ulster is unparalleled and to achieve our collective ambition, we must have a pipeline of graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to specialize in creative and technology-driven areas of production, research and development,” he said.

“For many years we have responded to industry reports of skills needs and shortages through the Ulster Screen Academy, providing students with innovative courses in film and broadcasting, animation, games and immersive technologies to help provide the much-needed skilled workforce to drive the screen industries. forward.”

Nadhim Zahawi's visit to Belfast

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons announced the project on Tuesday (David Young/PA)

Joe O’Neill, Managing Director of Belfast Harbour, added: “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. for the region and create the largest European 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 help attract leading production companies. both on traditional stages and in virtual production facilities.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast Tina Black, the studio complex represented a “groundbreaking development”.

“This world-class facility will put us in an incredibly strong position to compete globally, as it will address 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 really interesting opportunities for the people who work here.

“We said a decade of opportunity now begins with the Belfast Region City Deal – and today we take another major step in delivering on our ambitions to transform the city region’s economy and the quality of life of the people who live there.

Richard Williams, Managing Director of Northern Ireland Screen, added: “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 a world leader in the production of international screens.

“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 both the public and private sectors joining forces to bring such an innovative project to life.”