End of 2022 message from MyWorld’s Operations Director, Oscar De Mello
MyWorld partners, colleagues, and collaborators, present and future, thank you for being part of the journey so far. Let us pause and reflect on an enormously busy and productive 2022.
After a challenging first year characterised by start-up activity in a COVID landscape, April 2022 saw MyWorld’s delivery phase kick into action, with a huge range of activity involving more than 100 people across 13 partner organisations.
I have picked out highlights from the year, aligned to our model of Explore, Learn and Build. I will have forgotten something, but hopefully it serves as an indication of the exciting range and quality of support on offer.
Exploration of new ideas through research and collaboration is core to MyWorld. Our three Pathfinder research projects investigating Content Capture, Optimised Delivery and Audience Evaluation are all underway, albeit at different stages of maturity. The Smart Internet Lab team completed work on the first prototype of their Nomadic node, ‘5G network in a box,’ as part of the Optimised Delivery Pathfinder, and we look forward to seeing some exciting use cases developed in 2023.
The Audience Evaluation Pathfinder between the universities of Bristol and Bath have begun a collaboration with one of the newly commissioned MyWorld Experimental Productions in partnership with the renowned actor and director, Simon McBurney, and British Theatre company, Complicité. We continue to collaborate on pathfinder research with industry partners BBC, BT, Opposable Games, Netflix, and Tencent, to name a few, and are actively looking for ways to support more university-industry research collaborations in the future.
The University of the West of England (UWE) and Bath Spa University-led research themes are in the early stages of case study explorations of MyWorld’s experimental productions. The UWE-led collaboration with the University of Bristol investigating ‘Fair Creative Economies’ is also underway, with a call for papers released for the Creativity, Knowledge, Cities (CKC) Conference, planned for March 2023 in Bristol.
The MyWorld Observatory has been formalised under Mark Leaver’s leadership, and the first pieces of work have been commissioned; in collaboration with the Nesta Policy and Evidence Centre, looking at Technology Foresighting; and with Bristol Games Hub, looking to survey the regional games community’s requirements for future R&D and skills infrastructure.
Spanning all our work, MyWorld aims to be an inclusive and accessible programme that everyone is comfortable and confident to engage with. We recognise there is plenty of work to be done to achieve this goal, and we are grateful that Watershed’s Tony Bhajam has spent much of 2022 supporting all programme delivery teams to explore and reflect on their inclusive practice as they design delivery approaches for MyWorld’s various support offers and activities.
It is well known that skills gaps are a primary challenge for Creative Industries globally, not just at regional level.
Two new Masters level courses in Immersive Technology and Arts were launched at University of Bristol that sit alongside a wealth of undergraduate and postgraduate offers from all four regional universities. We also welcomed the first cohort of MyWorld Scholars, who receive financial assistance to access Masters level education through MyWorld. This first cohort of Scholars are drawn from UWE, Bath Spa University and University of Bristol, reinforcing the joined-up approach to skills development across our region.
MyWorld have also partnered with industry leading camera company RED to provide camera operation training; virtual production specialists Lux Machina for an In Camera VFX course, and with University of Bath’s CAMERA group for motion capture training.
Opportunities to meet and share knowledge across research and practice boundaries is another core element of MyWorld. This year we have introduced ‘MyWorld Meets,’ an opportunity for anyone connected with the programme to come together, give updates on their work, and seek out new collaborations. This monthly meet up interchanges between Bristol and Bath and everyone is welcome!
We have also hosted a fantastic MyWorld partner event; sponsored a very high-quality panel discussion at the Wildscreen Festival this year, chaired by UWE’s Professor Mandy Rose; and co-sponsored the talk and workshop led by cinematographer and film producer Michael Pitts, ‘In at the Deep End,’ which explored capturing drama and detail underwater in natural history filmmaking.
MyWorld is helping bridge the gap from idea formation to commercially ready product through various R&D funding mechanisms and experimental production commissions.
This year MyWorld partners Digital Catapult and Watershed delivered the first West of England focussed Collaborative R&D and Playable City Sandbox Calls respectively, complete with much needed business-facing events and workshops to bring businesses and researchers in the regional ecosystem together after lockdown. The energy at these events have been brilliant to see and reinforces the importance of both face-to-face engagement and the quality of our region’s collaborative approach.
Watershed have also awarded the first two IDEAs Fellowships in partnership with industry hosts, (more details to follow!) with plenty more Fellowship opportunities coming in 2023. Looking ahead, Digital Catapult have been busy laying plans for the forthcoming MyWorld Challenge Call, launching in January 2023. Do keep an eye on the website for details.
Alongside the Complicité experimental production, MyWorld partners UWE, Bath Spa University, Aardman, Lux Aeterna and Bristol Old Vic have commissioned ‘Inside’, an exciting and innovative production working in collaboration with the Content Capture Pathfinder team from University of Bath, award-winning director Sacha Wares, and the National Theatre Immersive Storytelling Studio. Elsewhere in the Experimental Production team, Bath Spa University colleagues have led the way in establishing an Immersive Audio network following an industry challenge workshop, and Lux Aeterna have showcased excellent work on AI-driven content creation.
Of course, alongside the successes, there have been challenges too…
MyWorld is an unprecedented programme in scope and size. Establishing effective ways of working, sharing information, and supporting one another to deliver the quality that our region deserves, has been a process of exploration and iteration in itself. But it is a process that will serve our region well as we look to collaboratively secure more programmes of this scale in the future.
Practically, it is no secret that we have experienced a lot of challenges setting up the facilities offers across Bristol and Bath. Whilst our partners Bath Spa University have successfully brought in new accessible capabilities in immersive technologies through kit purchases, procurement issues have caused significant delays for the University of Bath, and the Sheds development by the University of Bristol at the Temple Quarter site. The teams are working incredibly hard to mitigate delays and these exciting new facilities will be available for the region’s businesses to conduct research, development, testing and experimental production in 2023 and 2024, respectively.
In the meantime, teams across all three Universities have been working with facilities lead Esprit Film and Television Ltd to make the equipment purchased to date available for use remotely. Expect to see details of available equipment and how to access it appear on the MyWorld website in the new year as well as a series of how-to set-up videos on our YouTube channel.
All the above has really been achieved in the last eight months and is a testament to the hard work, collaborative approach, and passion of the whole MyWorld programme team. A huge thank you to everyone involved, and to everyone who has talked to us, submitted bid applications, come to events, and engaged with us online.
Collectively, we are already having an impact supporting the sustainable growth of our regional creative ecosystem, and there is plenty more to come in 2023!