Immersive storytelling artist celebrates second graduation with LJMU

The final day of spring graduation 2024 celebrated graduates from our Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies, marking the incredible achievements of students across a variety of disciplines including art and design, education, justice studies, fashion, journalism, film as well as a range of humanities and social sciences.

Among those picking up academic accolades was postgraduate student Dennis Outten graduating from LJMU with his second qualification – a MA in Immersive Media.

Having grown up close to the city, Dennis is passionate about the Liverpool City Region and its importance as a culturally inclusive and innovative place. So, it’s no surprise that following on from his undergraduate days as a fine art student at LJMU, and with enterprise training and development offered to him as an alumnus, he has gone on to co-found his own creative business in the region.

Spectacular storytelling across the city

Focal Studios, founded in 2019, creates incredible immersive experiences for all to enjoy as they use the backdrop of the region’s most iconic buildings as the canvas to project magical storytelling visuals at cultural festivals and for key public events.

Those familiar with the city might have seen the spectacular projections for Lunar New Year hosted at St Luke’s Bombed Out Church for the past three years or the Eurovision 2023 logo beamed onto the Birkenhead Ventilation Tower as Europe’s music fans descended on the city – Focal Studios are the masterminds behind it all.

A chance to explore personal creative practice and learn new technologies

Dennis’ most recent studies in immersive media have enabled him to gain further knowledge in a range of experimental and emerging technologies that will enhance his storytelling and production abilities as Managing Director at Focal Studios.

Dennis said: “The immersive media course has been really good - it’s opened up many doors and we’ve met loads of really cool people. It has allowed me to cement some foundational knowledge in immersive media that I’d already dabbled in running my company, but getting that credential on top of that and exploring deeper, instead of just doing client work, has been a chance for me to really explore my own creative practice and learn new technologies.”

‘Difficult but worthwhile’

He’s also balanced fatherhood alongside his studies, as well as driving forwards Focal Studios’ output, which is certainly a challenge but one that LJMU encourages and supports with many of its students, at all levels of study, managing life and careers alongside their educational journeys.

He added: “It's been important for me as a person, I don’t know how I’ve managed to do it raising two children and running a company, it was really difficult but worthwhile.”

Extra training and support has really helped

On next steps for him and Focal Studios, Dennis said: “It’s the start of something new for us as we are founding our own creative technology hub in New Brighton which is an amazing place for people to live and work. We’ve taken over a three-story building and we’re creating knowledge transfer partnerships with LJMU, University of Liverpool, the Virtual Engineering Centre, Wirral Met College and we’re bringing in lots of guest speakers, lecturers, training providers, and we’ve got offices to rent. It’s a space where people can develop their creative practice after university, before or even within their studies, as an industrial space where people can learn and work and collaborate and learn new skills.

“Everything I’ve learnt in immersive media at LJMU, and also the Enterprise Fellowship Programme, has been core to me going on to do that. I don’t think I could have done it without all of this extra training that I’ve had.”


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