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CoSTAR Realtime Lab to bring screen and performance technology industry to life in Scotland

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New research and development facilities in Dundee and Edinburgh announced as part of £75.6m UK Creative R&D Network.

Scotland’s screen and performance industries are to be boosted by a new multimillion R&D lab with sites based in Dundee and Edinburgh. 

The Convergent Screen Technologies and Performance in Realtime (CoSTAR) programme funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) was launched at Beyond Conference, London. Included amongst five UK labs is the CoSTAR Realtime Lab, led by Abertay University in Dundee in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, Interface, Chroma Developments and The Scottish Government’s Techscaler programme. 

The CoSTAR national network will provide researchers, companies and institutions across the UK with the infrastructure they need to conduct world-class research and development (R&D) in screen and performance technology. It will specialise in virtual production – a new cinematography technique which uses computer-generated imagery (CGI), augmented reality and motion capture to create virtual film and performance sets. 

Supported with £75.6 million of funding from AHRC with additional private co-investment, it 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.  

Abertay University is the only institution to have been selected by AHRC to work across two network sites and will also be a key partner on the CoSTAR National Lab led by Royal Holloway, University of London, in partnership with Pinewood Studios, BT, disguise and the University of Surrey.

The primary CoSTAR Realtime Lab will be constructed at Water’s Edge in Dundee (a site owned by Chroma Developments) with a second CoSTAR Realtime Lab site to be based at Edinburgh College of Art at the University of Edinburgh.  In addition to the core partners, CoSTAR Realtime is also supported by Scottish Enterprise, Screen Scotland and Amazon Web Services. 

Professor Gregor White of Abertay University and CoSTAR Realtime Lab lead said: “The convergence of new technologies means that our screen media and performance sectors have become closer than ever before, providing a golden opportunity for companies to expand and diversify their offer. With a global reputation as a leader in technology and the birthplace of the video games industry, Scotland already has a strong backbone of large businesses and SMEs working in this space, ideally placed to take advantage of the growing demand. By working closely with our core partners and supporters, listening to the requirements of industry and linking into the future-focused work of the National Lab, CoSTAR Realtime will provide the R&D support needed to spark economic growth and innovation for this exciting new sector.” 

Melissa Terras, Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage at the University of Edinburgh said: “Edinburgh’s arts and cultural communities are at the forefront of the creative industries. Our involvement in CoSTAR will ensure that a wide variety of creative practitioners have the opportunity and ability to engage with and access innovative virtual production facilities. In addition, the University of Edinburgh’s world-leading expertise in Artificial Intelligence will support the wider CoSTAR community. We’re delighted to be at the heart of this UK initiative, continuing to build a bridge between technology and the creative industries.” 

Howell Davies, Head of Strategic Programmes and Funding at Interface said: “It is great to see the scoping, planning and strategic thinking coming to fruition as the Realtime Lab launches as part of the UKRI’s CoSTAR programme. The approach to build on previous creative cluster programmes and combine the strengths of the academic expertise, support organisations and investors are a strong foundation to help drive the next generation of visual effects technologies that will revolutionise the UK’s film, TV and performing arts industries.” 

Stewart Clark, Managing Director of Chroma Developments said: “Bringing the CoSTAR Realtime Lab to Water’s Edge in Dundee further cements the city’s status as a world leader for the technology industry and there’s going to be enormous potential for companies across Scotland and further afield to take advantage of this leading-edge facility, supported by elite R&D expertise. Becoming part of the CoSTAR network represents another exciting step forward for Chroma Developments as we continue to grow our reach and we’re pleased to be laying these foundations to drive the next phase of the screen and performance industries.” 

Lara Findlay, Head of Regional Engagement for Dundee & Tayside at Techscaler by CodeBase said: “The launch of the CoSTAR Realtime Lab presents an exciting opportunity for both Dundee and Scotland to explore advancements in screen and performance technology. The launch of this studio truly underscores the immense potential within our region, placing us on the path towards creative technology innovations that could significantly benefit Scotland’s tech sector, and CodeBase is excited to be a part of this collaboration through Techscaler.” 

More information

Header image: Abertay Univeristy’s virtual production research environment. Credit: Abertay University.

About CoSTAR (Convergent Screen Technologies and Performance in Realtime) 

The convergent screen technologies and performance in realtime (CoSTAR) programme provides researchers, companies and institutions across the UK with the infrastructure they need to conduct world-class research and development (R&D) in screen and performance technology.

CoSTAR will support the design, development and creation of state-of-the-art facilities, resources and expertise to underpin the long-term competitiveness of the UK’s screen and performance sectors. Established with £75.6 million of funding and delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the CoSTAR national network comprises a National Lab, three Network Labs and a Foresight Lab. The CoSTAR programme was announced alongside the government’s Creative Industries Sector Vision in June 2023, and launched at the Beyond Conference in November 2023. 

The CoSTAR network is: 

  • CoSTAR National Lab  
  • CoSTAR Live Lab  
  • CoSTAR Realtime Lab  
  • CoSTAR Screen Lab  
  • CoSTAR Foresight Lab

Media contacts

Graeme Bletcher Communications Manager, Abertay University
E: [email protected] |M: 07813 532894 |T: 01382 308142

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