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Published on: 03.11.2023
Media Cymru brings XR expert to the Cardiff Capital Region with the Innovators in Residence launch
Media Cymru is excited to announce the inaugural residency of our new Innovators in Residence (IiR) programme. Our first Innovator in Residence, Alex Counsell, will be spending the week of 13–17 November in and around the Cardiff Capital Region running a full programme of engagements exploring Extended Reality (XR).
Alex Counsell is Technical Director for the Centre for Creative and Immersive Extended Reality (CCIXR) at the University of Portsmouth. This one-week residency will bring Alex’s expertise in motion capture, visual effects, virtual production and virtual reality to the Cardiff Capital Region. The programme will include workshops, masterclasses and meetings with industry partners. It will give the opportunity for those from the Welsh creative sector to explore the cutting edge of XR technology.
XR is the umbrella term for Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR). The work of Alex and CCIXR covers key priority areas for Media Cymru including immersive technology and future production.
The Innovators in Residence programme is planned to continue in 2024 and beyond. The programme will provide opportunities for engagement with expertise from across the world, enable knowledge exchange and provide insights that develop new knowledge, skills, and ideas to support the innovation activity taking place in the Cardiff capital. This will be delivered though masterclasses, workshops, arranged meetings and incoming trade missions.
Alex Counsell said: “Having grown up just outside Cardiff, I am honoured to be coming home to share my experiences with the creative community here in South Wales! To be asked to be the first in this amazing programme, makes it even more special. I am really looking forward to hearing about all the crazy, ambitious ideas that XR inspires, and the conversations that will hopefully help them become a reality.”
Sara Pepper, Deputy Director of Media Cymru, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Alex back home to Wales to spend time with individuals and businesses across the Cardiff Capital Region during our first Innovators in Residence week. His knowledge and experience in the XR space is highly regarded, as are his relationships with industry colleagues. We admire his approach which is all about using these new technologies to enhance audience and user experiences and tell stories in new ways. He has worked on some of the most interesting XR projects in the UK over the past several years as well as leading the technical delivery of the centre (CCIXR) in Portsmouth. We’re really looking forward to introducing you to the south Wales creative cluster. Croeso mawr, Alex. Edrych ymlaen!”
Alex Counsell’s areas of expertise range from Motion Capture and Visual Effects (VFX) through to Virtual Production and Extended Realities (XR). He is passionate about how technology has the potential to be applied over many different fields, particularly in the creative sector. He is actively engaged in a wide range of commercial and research projects that explore this.
Alex’s work uses the latest technology to explore new areas of development and collaboration between creative and technical disciplines, exploring areas including Virtual Production, Virtual Reality, 360 Video, Motion Capture and Volumetric Video. His most recent work has been in developing immersive performances using real-time motion capture, virtual production and XR. He has also explored the preservation of martial arts and dance through digital art and storytelling. These projects have been successfully funded through Arts Council England, Digital Catapult, Innovate UK and internal University research funds. He has worked and collaborated with industry clients such as The Royal Shakespeare Company, Marshmallow Laser Feast, All Seeing Eye, East City Films, Fray Studios, Manchester International Festival, Philarmonia Orchestra, The London Symphony Orchestra, SuperUnion and the Imaginarium Studios.
His current role at the University of Portsmouth is Technical Director for the Centre for Creative and Immersive & eXtended Realities (CCIXR) which is a centre that enables access to cutting edge facilities that explore new production and delivery methods, and opened its doors in May 2022. The ethos of the centre is to engage in cutting edge commercial and Research & Innovation (R&I) projects that inform new workflows and methodologies. A key aspect of this is developing a new talent pipeline, and to achieve this we regularly employ our students to work with us and our clients. This way they can develop and apply their skills in a true industry context whilst engaged in their studies. Graduates from the centre now work all over the world at companies such as Vicon, the Imaginarium Studios, Weta Digital, ILM, MPC, Framestore and Rockstar Games.