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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
14 June 2023
‘Movie magic’ visual effects lab set for Dundee

Dundee will host one of four visual effects labs | Alamy

‘Movie magic’ visual effects lab set for Dundee

A new research and development centre in Dundee is set to create new jobs and drive the next generation of visual effects technologies in UK film, TV and performing arts.  

The state-of-the-art lab is part of the Creative Industries Sector Vision, the UK Government’s plan to expand creative industries by £50 billion by 2030. It also aims to create one million extra jobs, with Dundee as one of the beneficiaries.

A consortium led by Abertay University has been selected to host one of the four labs specialising in the future of virtual production.  

Instead of adding visual effects and CGI postproduction, virtual production allows filmmakers to create large-scale digitally generated environments using LED panels that performers interact with, making it faster and less expensive than using green screens.  

Virtual production has been used to create the ABBA Voyage live concert in London and on Disney’s The Mandalorian.  

The lab will bring together expertise from Edinburgh and Abertay universities, 4J Studios, Codebase and Interface.

It is yet to be determined how much funding the Dundee visual effects lab will receive. However, the four labs which are also located in London, West Yorkshire and Belfast will benefit from £75.6m of government funding as well as £63m of new industry investment.  

Culture secretary Lucy Frazer said: “Scotland’s talented creatives have helped produce unforgettable productions including Tetris, The Traitors and even Succession. The region is known for its magical, cinematic scenery and is renowned for people with cutting-edge skills.  

“We want to put Scotland at the forefront of new technologies which will power the future of filming and live events. Working in tandem with a network of experts, this new lab will play a vital role in making sure the UK stays ahead of the latest developments transforming our screens and stages.”

Scottish secretary Alister Jack said: "This is a huge boost for Scotland’s world-class creative sector. This new facility in Dundee, funded by the UK Government, will help to build on the visual effects expertise we already have. Working together across the UK will ensure we remain on the cutting edge of this exciting industry, helping to create highly skilled jobs and grow our economy."  

Professor Gregor White, dean of the School of Design and Informatics at Abertay University, said: “Virtual production is one of the most exciting emerging applications of media technologies in the world right now. There is enormous potential for virtual film production to be the next major tech success story for the UK. Abertay’s academic expertise in the technologies used to create the real-time media, alongside University of Edinburgh's expertise in generative AI is second to none. Our intention will be to use our research expertise to drive innovation, and the entrepreneurial and investment experience of the broader partnership to deliver economic growth and jobs of the future for the UK creative industries sector.”

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