Acting Principal Professor Mary Oliver, who herself is a pioneer of immersive and digital performance, welcomed the audience to the launch event. Professor Oliver spoke about this exciting development for the College and highlighted the significant upgrades of existing lighting, audio, and IT systems, made possible by the funding from the Office for Students.
“This future facing investment follows in the College’s long history of being the first in the field to develop innovative degree level technical courses, we are the only Drama School in the UK with this resource currently, and demonstrates our understanding of how the theatre crafts are expanding into a wide range of media production sectors”.
– Professor Mary Oliver, Acting Principal, Rose Bruford College
The launch of the XR Stage is designed to provide students with the opportunity to explore new forms of performance and storytelling in a fully immersive and interactive environment. It will equip graduates with the skills and experience they need to succeed in the rapidly-evolving media and entertainment industry. The facility will be used for training and research development, and both live and recorded events, making it an invaluable resource for students and the wider community.
The XR Stage harnesses White Light’s award-winning SmartStage technology, integrating film and broadcast technologies into a flexible system that meets the College’s bespoke needs and budget requirements today while being reconfigurable in future. White Light became Rose Bruford’s partner to deliver the stage after a rigorous tender process.
“With WL’s expertise in this field, they were the ideal choice to collaborate with. With high demand for the XR stage across multiple stakeholders, we needed a partner who would understand and engage with the many different requirements and deliver a seamlessly interchangeable solution.”
– Dr Nick Hunt, Digital Research and Innovation Fellow, Rose Bruford College.
Sarah Cox, White Light’s business development consultant, added:
“Drawing on our pioneering R&D in XR and learnings from producing SmartStage to achieve a smooth UI/UX end user experience, we designed and installed a multi-purpose LED volume system. We’re confident that this will greatly enhance the learning journey for their students and we’re excited to see how the solution evolves.”
Extended reality (XR) refers to a range of technologies that enhance or expand upon the real world through the use of digital information. This includes virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). XR has a wide range of applications, including entertainment, education, and training.
Virtual production is a film and television production technique that combines real-time, computer-generated imagery (CGI) with live-action performances. Professor Mary Oliver described how the installation of this technology on campus creates a unique opportunity for the convergence of performance and XR for live productions, something the College is thrilled to explore.
Digital Research and Innovation Fellow, Dr Nick Hunt, also took to the XR Stage for the launch event, describing the decades-long evolution of the College as a pioneer in training new generations of technicians, designers and artists, even becoming the first degree for Lighting Design in Europe 30 years ago this year. This rich history has laid the foundation for the debut of the new XR Stage, explaining that this is the natural progression for where Bruford builds on this legacy.
“We can now offer students undertaking a range of courses, unparalleled learning and development opportunities, preparing them for both traditional sector roles and the rapidly expanding mixed reality entertainment world.” – Dr Nick Hunt.
The launch event featured a demonstration of the XR Stage’s capabilities by White Light’s Business Development Consultant, Sarah Cox, who took the audience on a journey of the technology’s evolution; from the uses and drawbacks of green screen technology, to the use of Virtual Production for film and television, and now the addition of Extended Reality to augment and expand these world’s to create unparalleled immersion.
Sarah Cox comments on the unveiling of the XR stage:
“It was fantastic to launch and celebrate such a huge achievement with both the pace of delivery and the overall design and quality of this solution for Rose Bruford College’s VP/XR stage.
This incredible facility has been designed with deep consideration at every step and is equipped to provide a great framework for learning and exploration within Virtual Production and Immersive Technologies.
The energy from the students who have already started to work with the technology is exciting. We can’t wait to see how the next generation pushes what’s possible creatively and how they apply it to the performing arts sector!”
Student training for the new stage is already underway across existing technical and performance courses, while the College is also launching a new course in September 2023, Design for Performance. The cross-disciplinary course allows students to explore and then specialise in design for set and costume, lighting (live events, festivals and performances), film, virtual production, gaming or virtual reality experiences.
Creative Industries Relationship Manager for the College, Lewis Bayley, remarked that “Everything at Bruford is an evolution, we’ve been a sector leader in training of technologies for live and recorded arts for over three decades so this new resource is a logical adaptation to reflect the industry. We’re more than just a drama school, or perhaps we are exactly what a modern day drama school should be. Having this facility on campus enriches all of us, performers, artists, technologists, event managers and our staff. This is an exciting next step for us, and we’re so happy that the industry appears just as excited as we are.”
The XR Stage has a permanent home at Rose Bruford College’s campus in Sidcup, which celebrates its seventieth anniversary this year.
Find out more about training at Rose Bruford College.