A new £10 million training and research centre is to be opened that aims to develop immersive storytelling and train UK talent in the use of virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies.

The National Film and Television School (NFTS) and Royal Holloway, University of London have won a competition to run the new National Centre for Immersive Storytelling following a competition run by UK Research and Innovation.

As well as experimental labs, workshops, placements and courses, the centre, to be known as StoryFutures Academy, will support and co-fund dozens of real immersive productions with a focus on storytelling.

The centre is a key element of the £33m Audience of the Future programme, part of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The programme aims to pioneer immersive experiences across the creative industries and was announced by government in March in the Creative Industries Sector Deal.

Organisations from the screen industries, film, games and TV producers, will be invited to be part of experimental labs run by NFTS and Royal Holloway starting with a number of high profile supporters of the bid including: Royal Holloway alumnus and special BAFTA award-winner, Sir Lenny Henry, Oscar winning writer, director and producer, Asif Kapadia (Amy), award-winning actor and comedian, , BAFTA winning actress, Georgina Campbell (Black Mirror), BAFTA winning director and NFTS alumna, Sarah Gavron (Suffragette) and Oscar nominated writer, producer and director, Primetime Emmy winning writer and producer, Steven Moffat (Sherlock), Primetime Emmy winning producer, Sue Vertue (Sherlock) and NFTS Associate Director, Alex Garland (Ex Machina).

The bid is also supported by partners including: BFI, Sky, Punchdrunk, UK games fund, Imaginarium Studios, Rewind VR, McCann Erickson,  Sony Interactive Entertainment, HTC Vive, Digital Catapult, Screen Skills, PACT, UKIE and BSAC.

Initially, training will take the form of placements, including boot camp intensive training for established screen industry practitioners, experimental labs, work experience placements and shadowing opportunities. NFTS and Royal Holloway will then offer 5-6 short courses available at a range of locations in the UK after a year of learning from experimental labs. Ultimately, both institutions will launch Masters provision in a range of immersive specialisms.

StoryFutures Academy will also offer paid placements for experts in a range of fields in traditional screen sectors to work with immersive companies.

For more information,  visit www.nfts.co.uk/immersive

pictured LR James Bennett; Sarah Gavron;
Ben Roberts; Sue Vertue; Bal Samra; Georgina Campbell; Steven Moffat & Jon Wardle

Jon Creamer

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