From education to employment

Four Bristol creatives showcase work from first-of-its-kind metaverse scholarship

In January this year, four Bristol creatives embarked on a unique, twelve week scholarship from innovative local tech start-up Condense, in partnership with Access Creative College and LocalGlobe.

Over three months, the scholars were guided through a cutting edge programme of study focused on bringing live events to the metaverse through digital graphics, 3D modelling, realtime VFX, plugin integration and more. The metaverse is already growing rapidly and is expected to be one of the key developing technologies in coming years.

The Condense scholarship provided an opportunity to not only give home-grown talent a head start in an emerging industry, but to also help increase diversity in the wider technology industry, which is currently addressing a lack of women and people from minority backgrounds. There are signs of improvement, with Ofqual data showing a 17.8% increase in women studying A Level Computing between 2021 and 2022, and that “the tech industry has a higher proportion of BAME people.. (15.2%) than the labour market as a whole” (Tech Nation), but there is still work to be done to ensure the future of the technology sector is diverse and equal. 

One of the Condense scholars during the showcase

Virtual events have risen in popularity in recent years, with video game worlds such as Epic Games’ Fortnite hosting virtual concerts from well-known artists such as Travis Scott, Marshmello and more. Condense, formed in 2019 has developed the technology to capture and live-stream real world content into virtual spaces. As part of their product, Condense has developed Studio 5, a platform that enables content creators to design and create their own unique virtual venue and live-stream their content directly to a global audience.

Olivia Sprackling, one of the Condense scholars said “I’ve loved every minute of it. The creative side and my lectures have been great. I really liked the connection to Condense and coming in (to the Condense offices) and seeing some of the technology being used. I’ve just found the whole experience completely new and pretty exciting. I’d definitely like to carry on doing some more 3D modelling. I think it’s given me confidence in my tech skills.”

Another scholar, Lenore Linsell agreed, saying “I really enjoyed having an opportunity to get some industry experience and speaking to industry professionals about the skills that I might need for a career in sculpts and 3D modelling. We learned things like retopology, sculpting and baking complex textures. Being able to work on a large scale scene and creating a venue is something that’s out of my personal comfort zone, because I mainly like making tiny 3D rooms, so that was really exciting.”

Olivia (left) and Lenore (right)

The twelve week programme has been of huge benefit to the four creatives, setting them up for future plans that range from planned degree-level study in 3D modelling to Masters in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence.

“The scholarship was launched to attract people from under-represented groups into an industry that we believe will change how people will experience live events. We are very proud of what the students have achieved. It’s been brilliant to see them develop and learn the skills they need to take their first steps into the industry. The support from Condense will continue beyond the course. We will provide guidance and access to a support network of contacts to help them on their way. We look forward to seeing which direction they decide to take after the scholarship.” – James Tong, Head of People at Condense

With Bristol already being home to “a 629,900 strong (tech sector), generating £3,048 million GVA in 2021” (TechSpark), continuing to support the development of new talent is vital to ensure the South West tech industry keeps growing. ACC, Condense and LocalGlobe are keen to continue their partnership, with a second scholarship being planned for later this year. Anyone with an interest in the metaverse, 3D modelling and/or live and virtual events is advised to keep an eye on ACC’s channels (@accesscreativecollege) for more on how to apply at a later date.

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