Tech & Trends
Virtual production ‘AMPs’ up in Gateshead with new studio
March 9, 2023
A new cutting-edge advanced media production studio has launched to offer virtual production and 3D technology to local businesses.
Following the success of the Virtual Production Test Stage in Guildford in 2021 between Target3D and Digital Catapult, the collaboration between Digital Catapult and Target3D continues with AMP at PROTO, a network of technology studios that provide access to virtual production and 3D technology across the UK.
AMP at PROTO has benefited from a £2m investment from InnovateUK to provide greater capabilities to regional creative industries, particularly filmmaking and games development.
The crown jewel of AMP at PROTO is a curved LED screen which provides seamless and crystal-clear visuals on a huge 8×3.5m scale, allowing state-of-the-art kit used in global productions such as Disney’s The Mandalorian to be accessible to North East businesses. Other state-of-the-art virtual production equipment includes tracking cameras and a motion capture system.
By bolstering the already impressive capabilities of PROTO, such as 360-degree photogrammetry capturing, the facility enhances the North East’s stellar reputation as a leading film and TV production hub.
Virtual production is a film-making technique that combines digital technologies, such as LED walls, games engines and motion capture, with live footage of actors to create scenes. It offers greater flexibility to filmmakers, reducing the traditional costs of transporting equipment and people, as well as shortening production times.
The launch comes at a momentous time for the region, with the North East’s production and film industry buoyed by the recent announcement of a major film studio to launch in Sunderland.
AMP at PROTO was unveiled to guests at a regional launch event yesterday (8 March). Attendees included local authorities, academics and creatives from all over the region, as well as representatives from Digital Catapult, Target3D and North East Screen.
AMP at PROTO is the evolution of the StudiosUK initiative and the work done by Digital Catapult and Target3D at the Virtual Production Test stage in Guildford, which facilitated a number of research projects and skills programmes for the screen and XR creative community. This facility will soon be part of the wider AMP network with a sister facility opening its doors later this year in London.
Sophie Craggs, Studio Manager at Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley, said: “We’re delighted to launch this facility; it will provide a welcome boost to the brilliant creatives we have here in the region. Up until now, businesses would have had to travel far and wide to access such cutting-edge virtual production technologies. We’re incredibly lucky and proud to have this on our doorstep. We encourage anyone interested to get in touch and take advantage of the kit.”
Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult, said: “Screen industries in the North East have tremendous growth potential; local proposals could see the sector scale massively in the next few years. Digital Catapult, with Target3D and Gateshead City Council, and supported by InnovateUK, has invested in this leading studio in PROTO to act as a catalyst to that growth, to meet national and global demand. The new studio will drive up regional capabilities by increasing the North East’s share of R&D and skills in the disruptive new field of advanced media production.”
Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, commented: “The screen sector in Gateshead is thriving. The investment in AMP at PROTO is a fabulous boost for the region, unlocking huge potential to increase the scale of production. The investment will create a place where our SMEs can develop their capabilities and residents interested in the screen sector can learn new skills, providing a platform to showcase local talent through the production of new creative content made here in Gateshead.”
Allan Rankin, CEO of Target3D, said: “The opening of AMP at PROTO marks a momentous milestone for creative industries in the North East, with exciting potential for collaboration both locally and nationally. We’re proud to be a part of this historic event, operating the state-of-the-art facility during a time of impressive growth within the industry. This is only the beginning of a promising and productive future.”
Alison Gwynn, Chief Executive at North East Screen, added: “We are thrilled to see the North East welcome the Advanced Media Production studio to PROTO. It will provide amazing opportunities for upskilling and will further support the region’s vision to become a growing force in film and TV production. We are looking forward to working with Digital Catapult and Target3D to ensure this studio is utilised to its full potential. It is an exciting time for the screen industry in the North East!”
AMP at PROTO is operated by Digital Catapult and Target3D, and funded by InnovateUK. For more information, please contact Sophie Craggs or visit https://www.proto.co.uk/.