KTN's online platform helps you to make the connections you need

 

The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) has refreshed its online platform to intelligently connect you to relevant events, funding, thought pieces and specialist staff to help your business innovate and grow.

You can discover content using your area of interest, from Digital Creative to transport; from space to health – all major UK economic sectors are covered. Once you have selected your interests, using our intelligent tagging system, we will then display rich and relevant content related to your area, often from surprising sources.

An example might be new satellite technology from the space sector that is applicable in the agri-food sector. KTN-UK.co.uk will help you form these unusual and valuable connections.

All content on the platform has been carefully curated by our team of innovation specialists – not by an automated algorithm – so you can be confident that KTN is connecting you to the most relevant cutting-edge information.

 

The move also marks a closer alignment with our main funder, Innovate UK , with the website branding making a clear visual link. Knowledge Transfer Network is Innovate UK's innovation network partner, and also works with other funders to provide innovation networking services and fulfil our mission to drive UK growth.

We link new ideas and opportunities with expertise, markets and finance through our network of businesses, universities, funders and investors. From agri-food to autonomous systems and from energy to design, KTN combines expertise in all sectors with the ability to cross boundaries. Connecting with KTN can lead to potential partners, horizon-expanding events and innovation insights relevant to your needs.

Visit our people pages to connect directly with expertise in your sector.

Visit the KTN refreshed online platfom here

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Creative Convergence: Telling Stories in the 21st Century

On the eve of the Technology Strategy Board's public launch of their new Creative Industries Strategy, Frank Boyd, Director of the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network (CI KTN), reflects on a key theme within that strategy – Convergence – and its increasing importance for digital media businesses looking to develop new ideas, platforms, services and ways of working.

Five years after its first formal acknowledgement of the sector, the Technology Strategy Board has reviewed its approach to supporting innovation across the Creative Industries and is launching a new strategy. Three key themes have been identified as priority areas for investment: convergence, data and transaction.

In a series of articles over the next few weeks we will explore the substance behind these broad headings. What do they mean in practice? What kind of activity does the strategy aim to support?  In this post I want to unpack the first area, ‘convergence’, which was also one of the priorities in the original 2009 Creative Industries Strategy.

Convergence is interpreted in different ways by people in different sectors and at different stages of the value chain. To companies involved in film production, it means the increasing elision of pre-production, production and post-production into a single process enabled by the development of digital ‘pre-visualisation’ technologies. Motion capture, performance capture and the use of augmented reality to render digital sets or characters in camera during the filming of live action are instances of this form of convergence.

Two of the companies consulted in the strategy review are leaders in driving this form of convergence in production technology. NVizible, a company specialising in pre-visualisation and VFX, has developed what they consider a ‘game changing’ device. NCAM is a tool that enables the real-time tracking and visualisation of animation during the production process. It gives filmmakers the freedom to make creative choices during production by bringing graphics from previz and VFX into live action recording. According to Nic Hatch, NVizible’s Managing Director, NCAM will become increasingly important in film, TV, commercials and games production. “It can truncate the production process by adding graphics and VFX in real time. It can be used to create virtual sets and digital plates or to put graphics into live shows, including sports events.”

The Imaginarium, founded by actor/director Andy Serkis, best known for playing Gollum in the Lords of the Rings movies, aims to become a world-centre of excellence for 21st Century production. Serkis set the company up, in partnership with Bridget Jones producer Jonathan Cavendish, as a direct result of using motion capture technology while working with Peter Jackson in New Zealand.

The Imaginarium is exploring the new possibilities for storytelling across multiple platforms that performance capture and related technologies enable, and not just to reduce production costs: “Next generation story telling is what we’re really interested in, how will we be telling stories in 10, 20 years time? What are the mechanisms, what are the platforms? This technology is a portal to delivering storytelling in many different ways.”

Support for the convergence of production tools and processes is one of the goals of the first major funding competition to be launched by the Technology Strategy Board in the context of its new Creative Industries Strategy. Cross-platform Production in Digital Media is a £15m fund for “tools or applications that enable the integration of pre-production, production and post-production processes into a single production stage for content creation”.

Serkis welcomes the Technology Strategy Board’s investment in the R&D that is essential for his company’s growth but insists that it is just one of the elements that drives innovation at the Imaginarium. He is passionate about their mission to fill a skills gap that the new production processes are uncovering. It is a central part of their plan for the studio to create an academy that trains people in the new roles necessary for convergent production. All the traditional roles of film making need redefining, he says. “There are amazing, talented people out there who haven’t had a tertiary education and are sitting in bedrooms and garages creating incredible stuff. We’re trying to find those people as well as working with universities and colleges.”

NVisible’s Nic Hatch also sees skills development as vital to the successful adoption of new tools and processes: “We can make the tools, manufacture them but who is going to train people to use them? We can teach the basics in two days, but people need to understand how to use them on set.”

It’s not just technical skills.  For Serkis, working in this convergent space has meant reinventing what he does as an actor: “Performance capture is about finding the emotional truth of a character played by an actor.  It is pure acting, there’s nothing to hide behind.” He also describes a changed relationship between performer and director in which they work iteratively in partnership to build characters from what he describes as ‘digital clay’. The Imaginarium, says Serkis, is “at the epicentre of convergence, a melting pot of talent in the digital realm.”

As such it is one of the companies looking to overcome a major obstacle to innovation identified by Eric Schmidt in his 2011 Mactaggart Lecture: the cultural divide in the UK between ‘luvvies and boffins’. Bridging that gap will be a key factor in building businesses that will thrive in the networked, digital media landscape.  It’s at the heart of successful convergence, something the Technology Strategy Board has recognised in forming a partnership with Creative Skillset to combine technology R&D with skills development.

In its formal call for proposals for the Cross-platform Production in Digital Media competition, the Technology Strategy Board specifically invites applicants to add this dimension to their projects by applying to Creative Skillset’s Skills Investment Fund: “We encourage applicants to this competition to consider the potential of integrating skills, talent and business development into their R&D process”.

In a previous article I argued the need for a joined-up approach to support for innovation and growth in the creative industries: the convergent processes driving disruption and change across the sector require a converged response. That this is now starting to happen is a hugely positive development that everyone in the industry should welcome.

 

 

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