The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is investing £4m in a new project to create VR and AR properties for British film and TV successes including Aardman’s characters and Peaky Blinders.
Aardman are part of a consortia with developers Tiny Rebel Games, digital specialists Potato, creative agency Sugar Creative and the University of South Wales.
The consortia will get a £4 million investment to develop new immersive storytelling experience based on Aardman characters.
A further project is a new virtual reality drama game based on BAFTA-award winning Peaky Blinders using Artificial Intelligence technology. Characters will respond according to the players’ gestures, movement, voice, sound and body language. The project is being led by London-based immersive VR studio, Maze Theory.
Through its modern Industrial Strategy, the government is investing £33 million in the UK’s immersive technology industry.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Success stories like award-winning Wallace & Gromit and BAFTA-winning Peaky Blinders are part of the reason why our creative industries are truly world-leading – attracting audiences both here in the UK and internationally and helping create a sector already worth some £100 billion to our economy.
“It’s why through our modern Industrial Strategy we’re investing to build on this huge global demand for UK creative content and ensure we lead the world in the next generation of entertainment.
“This backing will also give our home-grown talent the opportunity to lead the way in creating and using virtual and augmented reality technologies, remain at the cutting edge and create thousands of highly-skilled jobs.”
Aardman and the consortium are behind one of the 21 projects benefiting from Government investment in the creative industries – receiving a share of £12 million of the £33 million Ministers have made available.
Other projects that the government is investing in include improving theatre experiences for a more diverse audience, including personalised sign-language displays, translation captions for non-English speakers and audio descriptions for visually impaired people. The project led by the National Theatre will research the technical and production means to deliver these initiatives to improve accessibility.
Another project aims to make it possible for people to meet their heroes, with personalised storytelling and conversation through virtual reality. Forever Holdings will bring together a research group to transform immersive encounters, by improving filming techniques and boosting voice interaction.
And another will offer businesses immersive learning solutions for employees where they can use virtual and mixed reality headsets. Holohub would make this platform available to businesses for them to distribute it to staff and track performance.
Creative Industries Minister Margot James said: "The £150 million Creative Industries Sector Deal is helping to drive forward our modern Industrial Strategy and maintain the UK as a world leading destination for creative talent.
"Immersive technology is changing the way in which we consume entertainment, and the Audience of the Future programme will demonstrate how we can take people closer to the action than ever before."
UKRI Challenge Director for Audience of the Future, Prof Andrew Chitty said: “It’s fantastic that we complete our line-up of audience facing demonstrators with this hugely ambitious collaboration between Tiny Rebel Games, Potato, Sugar and the creators of Wallace and Gromit.
“Their aim to revolutionise Augmented Reality gaming along with the advances in AI, haptics, audience interaction and film production technologies from our other competition winners means the public will be able to try out some truly ground breaking experiences over the next 18 months.”
The Creative Industries Council (CIC) which negotiated the Creative Industries Sector Deal on behalf of the sector is also welcoming 8 new members as part of a review to ensure the Council is fully representative of the UK’s world leading Creative Industries. New members include Alex Mahon of Channel 4, Kanya King from MOBO and Debbie Bestwick from Team 17.
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