Expert team partners in major Creative Industries project

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Goldsmiths is due to lead a research team of screen and performance sector specialists as part of a project to give a £50 billion boost to the creative industries in the UK, announced as part of the government’s Creative Industries Sector Vision.

A picture of a camera viewfinder focusing on a conference stage

Image credit: Creative Informatics, credit Chris Scott

The College has been chosen as the preferred bidder to be the host organisation of an Insight and Foresight Unit alongside partners the BFI (British Film Institute), the University of Edinburgh and Loughborough University. 

This research and development team will support the CoSTAR (Convergent Screen Technologies and performance in Realtime) national infrastructure which will ensure the UK stays at the cutting-edge of new virtual production techniques for stage, screen and live events. 

Examples of virtual productions include the hugely popular ABBA Voyage live show and Disney Plus’s The Mandalorian.  

The Insight and Foresight Unit will focus on identifying impacts of CoSTAR and directions of travel for the screen and performance sectors. It will do so considering improved ecological sustainability, a more diverse and inclusive workforce, new workflows and ways of working, and audience engagement with creative productions realised through the CoSTAR infrastructure. 

Professor Jonny Freeman, Academic Lead for Knowledge Exchange at Goldsmiths, and Principal Investigator of the IFU said: “The UK’s Creative Industries have an incredible reputation globally and the CoSTAR infrastructure investment announced today will help to secure this going forward.  

“To support this, the Insight and Foresight Unit has an essential role in capturing and cataloguing the impacts of the virtual production and associated creative R&D technologies provided through the CoSTAR labs. 

“The consortium we have assembled for the Insight and Foresight Unit is formidable. It combines Goldsmiths’ expertise in the immersive, audience and virtual production sector, BFI’s unrivalled screen sector expertise and data, Edinburgh’s leadership in developing new forms of data to empower the creative industries, and Loughborough's track record in research and policy on creative technologies and creative R&D with the support of its new Policy Unit.  

“The consortium also benefits from access to world-leading expertise in understanding carbon impacts of convergent screen technologies from Arup and Julie’s Bicycle, and international markets from Olsberg SPI. The consortium also plans to work with the AHRC PEC on a longitudinal business survey tracking use and impacts of technologies relevant to CoSTAR. Across the IFU partnership, we have a genuine shared commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and all our planned activities and relationships will maintain a clear focus on this.” 

The unit was announced as part of the government’s Creative Industries Sector Vision to maximise the potential of the UK creative industries and grow the economy, so they generate an extra £50 billion for the economy and support a million more jobs by 2030. 

This sector vision builds on more than £230million in government spending on the creative industries since 2021. This includes £75.6million to build the largest virtual production research and development network in Europe to put the UK at the forefront of advancements in visual effects, motion-capture technology, and AI for the screen industries and live performance. The government announced a national lab in Buckinghamshire and regional research labs based in Yorkshire, Dundee and Belfast. 

The national CoSTAR lab and three regional R&D labs will ensure the UK has the skills and infrastructure to stay on the cutting-edge of new virtual production techniques in film, TV and live events which involve using computer-generated imagery (CGI), augmented reality and motion capture to create "virtual sets".

Instead of adding visual effects and CGI in post-production, virtual production allows filmmakers and theatre directors to create large-scale digitally-generated environments using LED panels that performers can interact with in real-time, as a quicker and less expensive alternative to green screens. The technology has been used in the ABBA Voyage live concert and the Batman and Minecraft immersive experiences in the UK, as well on Disney’s hit show The Mandalorian. 

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “The imagination and ingenuity of British designers, producers, content creators, writers and artists are spearheading growth right across our economy. 

“Working with the industry this vision is helping the UK creative sectors go from strength to strength - providing jobs and opportunities, creating world leading content and supporting economic growth across the country.” 

UK Research and Innovation Creative Industries (UKRI) Sector Champion, Professor Christopher Smith, added: “The creative industries are a UK success story, key to the UK’s prosperity, wellbeing and resilience. From design to screen, fashion and textiles to heritage, they are generating high-quality employment and innovation. 

“UKRI’s creative industries investments, including CoSTAR, Creative Catalyst and the Creative Industry Clusters Programme, will catalyse the research and innovation that are crucial for this fast-growing and important sector. 

“The creative industries are now firmly embedded in the research and development ecosystem, ensuring that the UK remains a genuine world leader in the industries of the future.” 

The announcement of the preferred bidders for CoSTAR is subject to internal government approvals processes, and where relevant, commercial discussions with external partners. Partner organisations such as BT, the National Film and Television School, Vodafone, Studio Ulster and Screen Yorkshire have today announced they will invest at least £63.3 million in CoSTAR.