How Ireland’s entertainment sector is flourishing with tech

14 Jun 2024

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Leaders from Ireland’s burgeoning entertainment-tech scene met in SXSW this year to talk about opportunities the sector presents for local and global talent alike.

Ireland punches well above its weight in global entertainment, thanks to an abundance of award-winning actors, directors and digital media talent. So much so that Variety magazine even claimed Ireland has becoming somewhat of a “capital of filmmaking” in recent years.

Home to big names in film, including Cillian Murphy, Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan, Ireland is an attractive environment for production teams thanks to a favourable tax incentive and reliefs for the cost of production of certain films.

At a panel on Ireland’s entertainment industry earlier this year, Katie Holly, an Irish producer and managing director of Blinder Films, told about the many opportunities available to local talent and global productions to shoot in Ireland alongside storytellers that are “making waves” globally.

“It’s an interesting time because the UK has actually been going through a difficult time at the moment – and they’ve just introduced a new higher tax credit for low-budget independent films,” Holly said in an interview at Ireland House (hosted by Enterprise Ireland) in SXSW Austin.

“Because they’re our closest neighbour, I feel like there is going to be maybe a competitiveness question there, but we’re lucky that our Government has been incredibly supportive so hopefully they can be quite responsive if there are any impacts there.”

Making AR and VR a reality

Tech is at the heart of Ireland’s entertainment and media industry, which is forecasted to add €1bn in revenue by 2027 due to an increased reliance on mobile and digital technologies, according to a PwC report published in November.

The report said that the entertainment and media industry is growing at an annual compound rate of 3.62pc and is expected to reach €6.12bn in 2027 (compared with €5.12bn in 2022), primarily fuelled by increasing internet access and significant growth in mobile advertising and video-on-demand subscriptions.

With the growth of this industry comes a rise in related technologies, such as advancements in animation and immersive experiences through augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).

One such AR technology company is Dublin-based Imvizar, whose co-founder and CEO Michael Guerin was also at one of the panels in Ireland House in March. The former Start-up of the Week wants to change the way we tell stories and become the Netflix of AR.

“We’ve made it simple for anyone to craft and share spatial stories, thanks to our no-code tool and platform,” said Guerin, an expert in extended reality and smart city projects, in an interview in February.

“Our mission is to deepen connections between people and places. Whether it’s a bustling tourist spot, a serene public park or a buzzing tech office, we aim to make every visit unforgettable through immersive storytelling. Imvizar brings narratives off the page and into the environment around you, turning locations into interactive stages for stories.”

His peer Rafael Pagés, co-founder and CEO of Volograms, was also speaking at the panel about the growth of immersive storytelling in Ireland and the many opportunities it presents. Dublin-based Volograms is another Start-up of the Week that is trying to make AR and VR content available to anyone with a smartphone.

Earlier this year, Kerry-based entertainment tech company Xavatar secured a deal that that would see its CGI-animated show (co-hosted by Irish film and television star Colin O’Donoghue) broadcast straight from the metaverse to millions of TV screens in homes across the US.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic