ONE thing that many people can agree on is the creeping prevalence  of technology in some creative spheres, be it animation, gaming, films or art itself . And while there is always a good reason not to keep tech skills in the arts, there is also an argument for keeping an eye on what people are doing in that technology/creative space to see if it inspires you – or simply to gain insight into the latest trends and developments .

With that in mind a two-day festival – RENDR – has been produced by the team behind the Belfast Photo Festival and will take place from February 23 to 242 at the Banana Block, Portview Trade Centre, East Belfast. The promotional blurb states it will be set in a Blade Runner-inspired environment, which gives you an idea of what the space will be transformed to. The fact that the festival is nocturnal with thirty speakers across two evenings as well as live demos makes it interesting.

Among the speakers are Bafta-nominated Kris Kelly from Enter Yes, an award-winning local visual effects and animation studio, who will discuss his work alongside Helen Sloan, production still photographer on HBO'S Game of Thrones.

Or how about finding out what's behind the company Humain, which specialises in digital humans for the entertainment and technology industries.  Also travelling to Belfast will be Mike Reiss, producer and longest-serving writer of The Simpsons, and David James, long time collaborator and stills photographer with Steven Spielberg, working on such films as saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List.

Also Belfast-bound is Australia-based Dorothy Di Stefano, creator/founder of Molten Immersive Art. Trained as a musician, she is one of the foremost voices in immersive and interactive art curation. Immersive art  can be explained as creating a world around a person to help them escape their reality. Usually with other people physically  present in the room, this is  different to other experiences where the person is transported virtually.

Festival Manager Michael Weir says: “RENDR is an opportunity to network  and demo new and emerging tech, to be inspired and to gain insight into the latest trends and developments in the creative industries – all with an emphasis on new technologies. We hope the event informs, engages and challenges the creative community to push boundaries of technology in their fields.” 

And I'm interested to see that RENDR has started virtual reality painting training with a number of traditionally trained painters for a live show later in the year.

The festival is supported by Belfast City Council, NI Screen and Arts Council NI and there are reduced rate early bird tickets as well as student discounts. Further speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Welcome to a brave new world.