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West Midlands

Animation is growing in significance with companies spread across the region, including The Character Shop in Birmingham, Synthetic Dimensions in Wolverhampton and Spark and Zoom (Brothers McLeod) in Worcestershire. The Lighthouse Media Centre in Wolverhampton hosts an annual animation festival called Flip.

Leamington Spa is host to two of the most successful UK games companies, Blitz and Codemasters. This growing cluster is supported by the Universities of Birmingham, Coventry and Warwick, which have academic expertise in the application of Games and Artificial Intelligence technologies, virtual reality and 3D imaging.

There are over 200 people working in corporate and commercial production industry.

The studio and post-production facilities in the West Midlands are mainly focused on television, digital TV production and corporate work with a workforce of 1,100. Businesses include Aquila TV, Audio Suite, HD Heaven in Birmingham and Oakslade Studios near Warwick.

Film production in the West Midlands is limited to a small number of independent organisations, but there are no distribution companies. Screen West Midlands offer a range of support for emerging film talent and also invest in productions through the Film and Media Production Fund. There are 46 cinemas in the region, including multiplexs, an IMAX and a number of smaller independent and art cinemas. In Birmingham, Star City, the UK's largest multiplex with 30 screens, specialises in Asian cinema. Around 100 people in the film industry live in the region.

There are a large number of interactive media businesses operating in the region, with a workforce of 800. The largest concentrations of businesses are in Birmingham, Rugby, Coventry and Leamington Spa.

The photo imaging industry is the second largest industry in the region comprising a large number of laboratories and retail outlets with a workforce of nearly 2,700. Rhubarb Rhubarb, a photographic training and development agency based in Birmingham, is internationally acclaimed for its exhibitions and the career development opportunities it offers to professional photographers.

There is a good geographic spread of radio stations across the West Midlands, but the largest concentration of stations is in Birmingham. There are 30 commercial stations, dominated by the larger radio groups, such as G-Cap plc, Global and GMG. However, there are some strong performing specialist stations including rock station Kerrang! and Radio XL providing music and news for the West Midlands Asian community. The BBC has five local stations and there is a growing number of community radio stations. Around 1,000 people work in the industry.

Both the BBC and ITV Central have studio bases in Birmingham. The BBC has two bases, namely the Mailbox where regional and network television and radio productions are produced, and the Drama Village at the University of Birmingham. ITV Central is located in purpose-built premises. There is a strong base of small independent production companies. The main output of these companies is factual entertainment for network and cable television. There are over 1,200 people employed in the industry.

Source: Skillset Sector Skills Assessment 2010, Skillset AACS LMI report 2010, Animation Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Computer Games Labour Market Intelligence 2010, Facilities Labour Market Intelligence 2009, Film Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2010, Interactive Media Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Photo Imaging Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009, Radio Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009 and TV Labour Market Intelligence Digest 2009