Stepping onto the world stage, the MyWorld vision sees the West of England staking its claim to become a global creative media production and technology powerhouse
Glasgow was once the world’s shipbuilder. Detroit was known as the global capital of the automotive industry. Today’s opportunities, however, revolve more around the movement of information than of people and goods. MyWorld’s vision is for the West of England to fulfil its potential as a world player in creative media production and technology. In fields including natural history filmmaking, animation, advanced electronics, media communications and gaming, the region has established itself at a national, and increasingly an international level. MyWorld will focus its ambitions and build critical mass to strengthen that profile still further. World-leading research collaborations The Bristol and Bath region is home to a large and increasing number of innovative technology and media companies. Many of these are, however, relatively small, which can make engaging in research and development (R&D) costly and difficult. Universities are well-placed to work with companies to research innovative new approaches, including those that may not pay back immediate dividends, but offer longer-term promise. MyWorld is investing in a portfolio of industry-academia collaborations at different scales and of different values. This will deliver advances in areas including:
- The development of new intelligent visual and interactive technologies, enabling new forms of storytelling, visual effects, gaming and other immersive experiences.
- Content production and delivery exploiting AI-based workflows, data-driven tracking, , and perceptually optimised video compression, that offer the potential for greatly enhanced immersive experiences.
- Better audience and user understanding, through the development of new ways to measure and track engagement throughout a digital immersive experience.
MyWorld will embed a culture of R&D innovation across the region and will fund a portfolio of collaborative projects between industry and regional universities. It will also test and showcase the results through productions by world-leading creatives. New and improved facilities The project is investing £5 million in building new accessible facilities across three locations in Bristol and Bath. This will include intelligent studios, virtual production spaces, and advanced digital content and technology testing equipment at the University of Bristol’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus. Bath Spa University’s multi-camera TV studios offer two studio volumes, nine video edit suites and a small viewing theatre. MyWorld investments will make new equipment for immersive productions available to regional businesses and learners, including portable motion capture and haptic suits, 360 cameras, binaural and ambisonic sound recording equipment and VR headsets. MyWorld partner CAMERA will host new technologies for performance capture and 3D imaging. CAMERA is the University of Bath’s state-of-the-art motion capture innovation studio, based at The Bottle Yard Studios , the largest dedicated TV and film studio facility in the West of England. Creative and technical training MyWorld is creating a comprehensive and inclusive training programme to develop the skills needed to deliver future creative experiences, and to support business and talent development. Our universities are providing training and support in entrepreneurship, innovation technology and creative practice. Partners including the BBC and Esprit Film and Television, will provide master classes on acquisition, production workflows and studio operation. These opportunities will be made available to hard-to-reach communities and be accessible to everyone. There will also be an emphasis on continuing professional training and retraining to future proof a rapidly evolving media sector. Business Development, Sustainability and Inclusive Growth MyWorld is carrying out an assessment of creative business models to inform recommendations to create sustainable and inclusive growth. This will include mapping models of ownership and control, employment practices, networks and income streams, to identify gaps where interventions in policy support can support future growth of regional businesses. The initiative is developing methods of tracking measures of inclusion, sustainability and equity. It will leave a legacy of advice, funding and support for alternative business models such as co-operatives, ownership trusts and community interest companies. Public engagement As the programme’s research and development work advances, this will be showcased through multiple local, national and international events. These will include opportunities for the public and industry to experience early technology and new media prototypes. Feedback from such events will help shape ongoing R&D in the MyWorld programme. MyWorld partner Watershed has big plans to make their work on creative technology within the Pervasive Media Studio, even more accessible. This includes the development of its Friday lunchtime talks and First Friday monthly social events, resident-instigated testing, partnerships around sharing immersive and screen-based work and showing work in other venues. Themed hackathons will encourage teams to design and implement applications to deliver new media experiences, use advanced media platforms and the 5G network. MyWorld Showcases are planned to bring creative and technical advances to international attention. Impactful Leveraging Bristol and Bath’s existing strengths in creative media production and technology will help maximise the major additional investments being made through MyWorld. This strategy will pay dividends nationally, providing examples of what can be achieved and making the UK more competitive in these rapidly evolving industries. The programme’s partners will build upon strong existing relationships with media and tech giants like Netflix, Disney, Apple, HTC, Oracle and Microsoft. Growing and widening these networks will be key to driving increased inward investment. The impact of MyWorld funding and the inward investment it attracts is estimated to be £223 million in economic activity, 21 new businesses and the creation of more than 700 jobs in the region. Performance Matters Beyond this, the programme will also be judged on a series of other key metrics:
- Outputs will include: new jobs created in the region and new business started
- Inward investment into the region
- The numbers of businesses using facilities, training opportunities and support services
- Academic outputs such as research papers
- New processes, products and commissions from funded R&D
- Outcomes will include: Repeat business-to-business and industry-university collaborations
- Use of new and accessible facilities
- Commercial income from new facilities
- Numbers of members of the public who engage in MyWorld outputs.
MyWorld leaders are confident they can help establish the region as an international leader in creative media production and technology. It is a goal that is in reach thanks to the programme’s vision of world-leading research, cutting edge facilities, comprehensive and inclusive training, sustainable business development and innovative public engagement.
by Nic Fleming