Creative Cardiff and BAFTA Cymru brought together 80 practitioners, business leaders and academics from across South Wales to explore the rapidly developing use of virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) in the creative sectors.
As well as assessing the size and shape of the immersive tech cluster in Cardiff and the region, the event revealed the innovative and diverse VR and AR work being produced by local organisations, and its impact on the creative economy.
Virtual reality combines high quality imagery and sounds, allowing users to experience and explore artificial, 3D worlds and images through a headset.
Augmented reality differs in that it superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world to provide a composite view.
Specialist companies in South Wales are increasingly applying these technologies across arts and entertainment, as well as in medical science, engineering, and in education and training.
The event, Visioning the New Realities, was held at Wales Millennium Centre, and jointly organised by Creative Cardiff, based in Cardiff University’s Creative Economy team, and BAFTA Cymru.
It follows on from the successful Doing Digital, Thinking Digital workshop, which the two organisations hosted in 2016 at Pinewood Studios, and which explored the use of digital technology to maximise creative impact.
Professor Ian Hargreaves, Chair of Digital Economy at Cardiff University opened the event.
"It's really important to bring together the VR community,” he said. “All of Creative Cardiff's experience suggests there is great value in strengthening and extending connections across the whole creative economy of our region.
“Virtual Reality is an increasingly important part of the digital scene, not only in film, television and games, but also in aspects of medical science and other settings where a more fully visualised experience adds value."
Organisations presenting at the event included REWIND, BBC Cymru Wales, Welsh National Opera, Orchard, Wales Millennium Centre, Welsh Government, Innovate UK and Cardiff University’s Virtual and Augmented Reality, and Binaural Recording Research Group.
A ‘marketplace’ with demonstrations of VR and AR featured exhibitors including Wales Interactive, Bristol VR Lab, 4Pi Productions and Sugar Creative.
Closing the event was Director of BAFTA Cymru, Hannah Raybould. She said: “BAFTA is currently engaging with an international committee of industry leaders in the field of VR and AR with a view to reviewing the changing landscape of VR and revisiting the impact on BAFTA’s mission.
“This is a hugely exciting time in terms of the development of this area of the industry and we are eager to create opportunities in Wales for creatives to discover more and be inspired to join the conversation.”
Following Visioning the New Realities, Creative Cardiff and BAFTA Cymru will continue to engage with the immersive community to further support the development of this cluster in South Wales.
Find out more about the Creative Cardiff network here.
You can see photos of the event here