New multi-million pound virtual film studio to be built on Belfast's shores

Northern Ireland's film and television industry has benefitted from a boom over the last decade.

From Game of Thrones showcasing the North Coast, to major productions like 'Krypton' and 'The Northman' putting local facilities on the global stage, the rise has been huge.

Now, a brand new multi-million pound film studio on the banks of north Belfast is set to give that boom a further boost.

Studio Ulster will sit at Giant's Park on land next to Belfast Harbour Studios.

It is a combined project from Belfast Harbour, Ulster University, Northern Ireland Screen and Belfast City Council focusing on virtual production.

The 57,000 sq ft premises, aided by funding from the Government's Belfast City Deal, will house two large-scale stages, a motion capture stage, a 3D scanning stage as well as having other technological capabilities.

461 jobs will be created with 2024 earmarked for its opening.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons MLA welcomed the investment.

"I think it is great news for the Northern Ireland economy as a whole," he said.

"It is moving towards where we want to be as set out in my economic vision where we focus on those area where we have the ability to be world class and where we have the ability to be world leaders."

Joe O'Neill, Chief Executive of Belfast Harbour, said it will bring the industry to new heights.

"It is taking our existing studio offer to the commercial market to a totally new level," he said.

"It is introducing world-leading innovation into a commercial proposition and just will make us much more attractive to attract studios like Netflix and Universal back to these studios."

Professor Paul Bartholomew, vice-chancellor of Ulster University, said the announcement will attract new students.

"The unique academia and industry, public and private sector partnership approach underpinning Studio Ulster is unprecedented and to realise our collective ambition, we must have a pipeline of graduates who are equipped with the skills and knowledge to specialise in creatively-led, technologically-driven production, and research and development," he said.

"For many years we have been responding to industry reports of skills requirements and shortages through the Ulster Screen Academy, offering students innovative film and broadcast, animation, games and immersive technologies courses to help deliver the much-needed skilled workforce to drive the screen industries forward."

Lord Mayor of Belfast Tina Black said the studio complex will 'cultivate talent'.

She said: "This world-class facility will put us in an incredibly strong position to compete globally, because it will meet an identified international need for virtual production facilities that will be rapidly adopted.

"It will also allow us to cultivate talent, our research and development capacity and create really exciting opportunities for people working here.

"We've said that a decade of opportunity starts now with the Belfast Region City Deal - and today we're taking another important step forward in achieving our ambitions of transforming the city region's economy and quality of life for people living here."

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