A London company which has worked on visual effects for films like Gravity and Captain Phillips has set up in Belfast as part of the latest boost for our growing creative industries sector.
Nvizible – which works alongside Universal, Disney, MGM, Warner Brothers and Working Title – has formed a joint venture with Factory Studios in the Titanic Quarter, close to Titanic Studios, which employs eight people providing digital effects for large feature films and television shows.
The company has most recently created animated robots, flying vehicles, a spitfire plane, environments and explosions for Our Robot Overlords, shot in Northern Ireland last summer and starring Gillian Anderson and Sir Ben Kingsley.
Victoria Farley, who heads up the studio in Belfast said that Northern Ireland is fast becoming a hub for film and television makers thanks to the presence of HBO, which films much of fantasy series Game of Thrones here, and Universal, which chose the region as a location for parts of the new Dracula movie.
And with the government agency that oversees Northern Ireland's film and television industry set to get a budget increase of more than 50% over the next four years, the potential for growth is huge.
It was announced last week that Northern Ireland Screen's budget would rise to almost £43m, after receiving a total of about £27m over the last four years.
The Department of Enterprise said the additional investment could boost the local economy by encouraging £194m in extra spending.
"Northern Ireland Screen put us in touch with Nvzible and we are delighted that we have found such a good match and that we have been able to enter into this partnership," said Ms Farley.
"Factory formed a few years ago. There was an article in The Economist magazine saying that Northern Ireland had everything one would want in order to film major productions, apart from good visual effects production.
"We decided to capitalise on this gap in the market and tapping into the expertise of Nvizible means Northern Ireland can now supply everything that any major production would want.
"We're just two minutes drive away from Titanic Studios where many of the big productions are filmed and we're also minutes away from Belfast City Airport – we couldn't be in a better location.
"Nvizible has worked on some huge films and we are delighted to be a part of their story."
As part of the merger, former head of production Kris Wright has been promoted to managing director with Nic Hatch taking on the role of chairman.
Nic was the driving force behind the Belfast opening and recognised it as an area of growth in the film industry with a shortage of VFX.
Formed in 2009, in recent times Nvizible has completed work on Kick-Ass 2, which included 350 special visual effects, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Carrie, I Give It A Year and also Muppets Most Wanted.
"Production companies say that work remains erratic: things will go quiet for a few months, then demand for their services will surge again. But the trend is upward, and skills are growing. Northern Ireland now has the capacity to provide every kind of production service apart from computerised special effects."
The Economist, March 2, 2012