Research and innovation

Screen team plays starring role in £75.6m deal

The UK’s burgeoning screen and performance industries are to be boosted by a major research and development initiative involving University experts.

A team from Edinburgh College of Art will work closely with researchers from Abertay University in Dundee to drive innovation in the games, animation, film and TV sectors.

The partnership will build on Edinburgh’s global reputation for film, television and animation production, as well as its excellence in machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

This new pairing – part of a multimillion-pound UK Government initiative – will combine Edinburgh’s strengths with Abertay’s expertise in video games development.  The Convergent Screen Technologies and Performance in Realtime programme – known as CoSTAR – has been awarded £75.6million by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Costar launch conference
L-R Howell Davies, Interface, Professor Gregor White, Abertay University, Professor Melissa Terras, University of Edinburgh, Chris van der Kuyl, Chroma Ventures, Stephen Coleman, Codebase, Matthew Bett, Abertay University, Phillip Vaughan, Abertay University

World class

CoSTAR’s network of labs will provide researchers, companies and institutions across the UK with the infrastructure they need to conduct world-class research and development.

It will specialise in virtual production – a new cinematography technique that uses computer-generated imagery (CGI), augmented reality and motion capture to create virtual film and performance sets. 

CoSTAR will drive the design, development and creation of state-of-the-art facilities, resources and expertise to underpin the long-term competitiveness of the sectors.

The programme, which has also attracted private investment, was launched at the Beyond Conference for creative industries professionals, which was held in London.

Five facilities

The CoSTAR Realtime Lab, led by Abertay University, is one of five UK facilities involved in the project. 

The primary CoSTAR Realtime Lab will be constructed at Water’s Edge in Dundee with a second site to be based at Edinburgh College of Art.

As well as the University of Edinburgh, the project involves Dundee-based Chroma Developments, the Scottish Government’s Techscaler programme and the national funding hub, Interface. 

CoSTAR Realtime is also supported by Scottish Enterprise, Screen Scotland and Amazon Web Services. 

Second strand

Edinburgh will be involved in a second CoSTAR lab that will analyse industry data and weigh up possible future trends in the screen and performance sectors. 

The Insight and Foresight Unit will play a key strategic role in helping to ensure the UK stays at the cutting edge of new virtual production techniques for stage, screen and live events. 

The Foresight Lab – hosted by Goldsmiths, University of London – will also involve the British Film Institute and researchers from Loughborough University. 

Bridge building

We’re delighted to be at the heart of this UK-wide initiative, continuing to build a bridge between technology and the creative industries.”  “Our involvement will ensure that a wide variety of creative practitioners have the opportunity to access innovative virtual production facilities.

Professor Melissa TerrasUniversity of Edinburgh CoSTAR lead

The convergence of new technologies means that our screen media and performance sectors have become closer than ever before. “This is a golden opportunity for companies to expand and diversify. CoSTAR Realtime will provide the support needed to spark economic growth and innovation.

CoSTAR Realtime Lab lead Professor Gregor WhiteAbertay University

Related links

Convergent screen technologies and performance in realtime (CoSTAR) – UKRI

Edinburgh College of Art

Creative Informatics