In late autumn 2020 Rose Bruford College, one of the UK’s premiere Theatre and Performance institutions, launched the Centre for Digital Production, one of the first of its kind, which offers two innovative degree courses at the cutting edge of technology and industry practice: Virtual Theatre and Digital Experiences and Digital Content Design for Theatre and Live Events. With dedicated computer laboratories, a fully equipped studio space on campus with unique facilities where students can learn to operate media servers, cameras, projectors, control desks, motion capture and virtual reality equipment and green screen technologies, the college is now actively recruiting students with interests in gaming, video, photography and design who might not have considered a career or training at a traditional drama school.
James Simpson, Head of Development said, “Anyone with any interest can find a role in Virtual Theatre whether they are technical, creative or a bit of both! If you interested in gaming, video, photography and stage technology you will get a chance to play with all of the tech, and if you are interested in design, art, graphics, 3D CGI, writing or making stories for a live audience, you will get the chance to explore your full creative potential and work as part of a team to create original and innovative projects.”
Sally Elsmore, Head of Student Recruitment, said, “Applications for September 2021 remain open through UCAS until June this year, in recognition of the fact that many applicants might need longer than usual to decide on the best way forward for their education. Rose Bruford College have also taken the decision not to charge for recalls or auditions on our performance programmes for 2021 entry applicants. This should go some way towards easing financial strain the pandemic may be placing on potential students.”
The first year of the new courses have been facilitated with a new partnership with SimpleCloud Education, a cloud-based system which enables students to work on state-of-the-art software programmes accessible from any piece of technology, from a phone to a basic PC laptop. This has enabled teaching to continue in the virtual realm, despite the restrictions imposed on students who are no longer able to be on campus due to the UK lockdown in force. The current students across the two courses have also all been lent individual Virtual Reality Headsets, which has enabled remote meetings and teaching.
Rose Bruford College is also partnering with Reality Check Productions, founders of THE ROUND – a bespoke software for the creation and distribution of live digital performance in Augmented Reality, whose development was made possible by a £130,000 grant from Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund in 2020. Other partners on the project include location-based Mixed Reality experts Figment Productions, motion capture experts Target3D, volumetric capture experts Condense Reality and Virtual Theatre creators Copper Candle.
Created especially for the platform, productions in The Round use Augmented Reality technology to allow audiences to watch new live shows, with their friends, from any viewpoint, and will allow professional artists and creatives to produce, build and distribute performances delivered live to audiences’ homes globally. THE ROUND is due to launch in June 2021.
James Simpson, Head of Development,Rose Bruford College, is a creative technologist and owner of Copper Candle, an XR studio creating and developing virtual theatre experiences as well as pre-visualisation solutions. He is passionate about the use of technology in creating theatre and live entertainment. His specialism and PhD research is pre-visualisation, particularly using XR technology, and has worked with the Royal Opera House, National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company & Magic leap where, as a Digital Fellow, he was part of the development of a digital immersive re-interpretation of a Midsummer Nights Dream. He has also worked on productions including Miss Saigon, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, &Juliet, The Olivier Awards and the Commonwealth Games Ceremonies.