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Research Projects

North Sea Screen Partners £5.9m (Value to University of Dundee: £488,833) 10.2008 – 03.2013

Visual Effects Research Lab
Visual Effects Research Lab
Visual Effects Research Lab and Peter Richardson
Visual Effect Research Lab, Peter Richardson and Hollywood actor Brian Cox
Visual Effects Research Lab

Main project collaborators

Peter Richardson, DJCAD, University of Dundee (Principal Investigator)
Julie Craik, FifeScreen and TayScreen
Carsten Holst, Filmby Aarhus
Bo Damgaard, FilmFyn
Henrik Danstrup Holst, Roskilde University
Regitze Kristensen, Tietgen Business School
Gitte Vejlgaard, Tietgen Business School
Jochen Coldewey, Nordmedia
Thomas Thijssen, Saxion University
Irmelin Nordahl, Western Norway Film Centre
Sigmund Holm, Western Norway Film Commission
Fredrik Graver, The Norwegian Film School
Ingrid Thornell, Region Vastra Gotaland
Jo Nolan, Screen South


Peter Richardson (Principal Investigator)
Prof Stephen Partridge (Chair/Researcher)North Sea Screen Partners, The Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme, DJCAD and University of Dundee logos.
Dr Chris Rowland (Researcher)
Dr John McGhee (Researcher)
Dr Emile Shemilt (Researcher & Editor)
Jamie Eason (Technician)
Malcolm Fininie (Technician)
Matt Cameron (MSc student)
Paula Francis (Secretarial support)

Context and background

Visual Effects Research Lab Cinematic visual effects tools such as Nuke, Inferno and Maya are ubiquitous in
the creation of visual effects shots in Hollywood style feature films. The integration of live action footage with computer generated and enhanced imagery is an expensive prerequisite of most adventure, science fiction and fantasy genre films. (Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, and Inception exemplify this trend.) Skills and training in technology outweigh all other considerations for the visual effects houses who employ computer graphic artists for their technological capabilities rather than their conceptual talents. The Visual Effects Research Lab (VERL) seeks to reverse this situation. VERL puts the tools of high-end digital creativity into the hands of the trained artist; (mediated by artist-operators) it commissions works that are challenging conceptually and technologically.

Aims and objectives

VERL is a groundbreaking project that aims to create new synergies between scientists, artists, clinicians and filmmakers. By bringing together the worlds of film, art, technology and computer science to undertake research into new forms of digital image making and high-resolution image technologies, VERL aim to demonstrate the potential of this combined expertise. In sharing methodologies and promoting interdisciplinary understanding the project is beginning to challenge established notions of visual thought.

The skills of artists and other practitioners in the creative professions can be of immense value in a wide range of other areas, and VERL aim to have a significant impact in scientific and medical research and industry. The project will consolidate established world-class research in a diverse range of areas, such as video art, digital film, visual effects, medical visualisation, animation and underwater imaging.


Visual Effects Research Lab VERL offers companies the chance to work with the latest technology and is helping post-production companies to network and collaborate so they can get involved in larger and more lucrative projects. Technologically advanced cinematic tools are at the centre of the project: high resolution image technologies, post-production software, high speed storage and rendering capabilities. The lab offers a custom-built environment to realise projects with state of the art compositing, editing, animation and visualisation software. VERL utilises the industry standard visual effects tools: Maya, Nuke and Ocula. Breakout spaces and meeting rooms are also available for academics and partner organisations.

VERL and Creative Scotland commissioned four Scottish based artists to develop new innovative digital films. The artists were invited to push the labs state of the art visual effects facilities and team to their limits. VERL researchers and Masters students filmed the projects and created four, visual effects laden, 5 minute films. The films will be screened across Europe at various venues during 2012.

GenomeScroller is a large-scale, dynamic, visualisation of the information surrounding the human genome. Its aim is to convey the huge scale of the genome and the rarity of the information rich regions: but also the richness of the information known within these regions. GenomeScroller shows that, although the genome is ‘complete’, there are only islands of knowledge – where we have much biological and medical knowledge – within the genomic sea.

Visual Effects Research Lab - click here to download PDF description

North Sea Screen partners £5.9m (Value to University of Dundee: £488,833)
10.2008 - 03.2013