Wakefield Set To Be Hub For Performance Technology
The Wakefield district is to become part of the largest virtual production research and development network in Europe.
South Kirkby will be home to a brand-new specialist lab – one of only four in the UK – which will open at Production Park, Europe’s premier live experience and entertainment campus, dedicated to creating some of the world’s biggest tours and shows in music, theatre, film and TV. The lab, on the campus just outside of Wakefield, will specialise in researching and developing ways to drive the next generation of production technology, for both screen and stage.
The funding has been secured by Wakefield Council in partnership with a consortium led by the University of York, including Screen Yorkshire, North Yorkshire LEP, Production Park and Vodafone, and the lab will be part of a £76 million investment to grow the UK creative industries by £50 billion.
Cllr Michael Graham, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration, said: “This has confirmed the district’s place in the future of new and exciting technology. It’s going to bring high quality jobs and attract more investment, reinforcing Wakefield as a great place to do business for the creative, digital and technology sector and a great place of opportunity for our residents.”
Virtual production covers a range of techniques that use computer-generated imagery (CGI), hyper-real sound, augmented reality and motion capture to create virtual sets and environments. It enables the creation of large-scale digitally-generated environments that performers can interact with in real-time using LED panels. The technology has been used to great success in the recent ABBA Voyage live concert in London and on Disney’s The Mandalorian.
Cllr Michelle Collins, Cabinet member for Culture, Leisure and Sport said: “Our creative credentials are going from strength to strength and I am absolutely delighted that the Yorkshire lab will be located right here, within the Production Park campus in South Kirkby.
“Production Park is an incredible, world-renowned facility and with this new research and development lab we have the opportunity to be at the forefront of shaping the future the UK’s TV film and performing arts industries.”
This new set up is part of the UK Research and Innovation Infrastructure Fund’s (UKRI) Convergent Screen Technologies and performance in Realtime (CoSTAR) programme, supported by £75.6 million of government funding and £63 million of new industry investment, which will form the largest virtual production research and development network in Europe, with four facilities across the country.
The network will include a national lab at Pinewood Studios, and a new Insight and Foresight Unit led by Goldsmiths and the British Film Institute. The South Kirkby hub and the other regional hubs in Dundee and Belfast are expected to add a combined £33 million to the economy and support 423 jobs.