By Rebecca Black, PA
A US video game giant has endorsed courses at Ulster University in Northern Ireland.
Epic Games created the children’s favourite Fortnite, with its famous “flossing” dance, among many others.
The company has now awarded Unreal Academic Partner status to the university’s Ulster Screen Academy, endorsing its Games Design and Animation programmes.
In support of this, the Screen Academy has separately announced a £1 million investment in a new Virtual Production Facility (UViPrS) at its York Street Campus in Belfast.
The state-of-the-art facility will encompass an LED wall with camera tracking technology, full-body motion capture, facial capture, large green screen and virtual cameras.
Linda Sellheim, education lead at Epic Games, said the facility will prepare students for opportunities across the world.
“As the global demand for real-time 3D skills continues to increase, Ulster Screen Academy’s digital media, virtual production, and games design and animation programs will prepare students for exciting new career opportunities in Northern Ireland and beyond,” she said.
Dr Declan Keeney, director of Ulster Screen Academy, welcomed “global recognition for the incredible work happening within the Screen Academy”.
“The new facilities will support staff and students in their ambition to offer the most relevant and agile degree programmes offered anywhere in the UK and Ireland, responding to the 3D and real-time skills gaps identified by our industry partners,” he said.
“We have embedded virtual production into the curriculum, teaching students high-end production skills for games design, animation, film and broadcast.
“Our graduates are highly sought after by the industry and these announcements today only serve to enhance their employability. With our Belfast Region City Deal project, SMIL, we know we will generate new jobs in Northern Ireland that require specialist digital skills and our students will be ready for them.”
He added: “We cannot understate the importance of the Unreal Academic Partner endorsement – it’s the industry telling us that the Ulster Screen Academy is on par with the best institutions around the world, yet available here on our doorstep in Northern Ireland”.
Economy Minister Diane Dodds added: “I am delighted that my department has been able to support this exciting facility at Ulster University.
“By helping to provide the highly skilled graduates needed to attract investment and high quality jobs in the creative industries, this technology will add significantly to the sector’s potential contribution to Northern Ireland’s economic recovery.”