Major new virtual production studio greenlit for Belfast

Construction on Studio Ulster commences late September, and the facility is expected to be fully operational from early 2024

By Priyanca Rajput 21 Sep 2022

Major new virtual production studio greenlit for Belfast
Studio rendering. Credit: Studio Ulster

A £25.2m virtual production studio is being developed as part of north Belfast's new Studio Ulster.

Situated at Giant’s Park and developed by Ulster University, Studio Ulster will be a large-scale VP studio complex with soundstages.

The development comprises a 57,000 sq. ft. building, housing two large-scale virtual production stages with an in-camera VFX stage, a motion capture stage, a 3D scanning stage for full body, facial and object scanning; and an R&D smart stage with virtual production technologies to support research.

It is also expected to create around 460 direct and indirect jobs in the screen sector. The new studio is also set to strengthen the country's status as a prime location for film, animation and immersive technologies in one central hub.

Economy minister Gordon Lyons announced the multi-million pound Belfast Region City Deal investment on Tuesday (20 Sep).

Commenting on the project at Giant’s Park, Lyons said: “The Studio Ulster project is a major investment in the future of the local film industry that enhances the excellent facilities already on offer here in Northern Ireland. The industry is now a major contributor to our economy, with estimates by Northern Ireland Screen suggesting the last three film and television productions have together been worth more than £100million to the economy.

“This £25.2million investment in Studio Ulster through the Belfast Region City Deal further strengthens Northern Ireland’s impressive offering to international film companies.”

The project is in partnership with Belfast Harbour and supported by Northern Ireland Screen.

Minister Lyons met Studio Ulster partners Ulster University, Belfast Harbour, Northern Ireland Screen and Belfast City Council to discuss the role the creative industries - especially VP - will play in delivering the outcomes highlighted in the Department’s 10X Economic Vision.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, councillor Christina Black, said: “Studio Ulster is a ground-breaking development for Belfast, and the region. This world-class facility will put us in an incredibly strong position to compete globally, because it will meet an identified international need for virtual production facilities that will be rapidly adopted. It will also allow us to cultivate talent, our research and development capacity and create really exciting opportunities for people working here. We’ve said that a decade of opportunity starts now with the Belfast Region City Deal – and today we’re taking another important step forward in achieving our ambitions of transforming the city region’s economy and quality of life for people living here.”

Joe O’Neill, chief executive of Belfast Harbour, added: “We are excited to be working with our partners to deliver this significant investment for the Northern Ireland film industry, which underlines our ongoing ambition to be a major economic hub for the region and create the largest European media hub outside of London. The UK market for film and content production has continued to strengthen and this project will serve to further increase Northern Ireland’s global competitiveness in the creative industries sector and help to attract leading production companies to both the traditional stages and the virtual production facility.”

Construction commences late September and the facility is expected to be fully operational from early 2024.

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