“Immersive experiences require novel narrative mechanisms & new language of production… The best technology will not produce the change needed without equal excellence in content production and understanding of immersion as a narrative form” – Creative Industries Review 2017

On December 14th, Liverpool Screen School welcomed over 200 guests from industry and academia, with over 30 speakers and demos, to discuss the way that Immersive Technologies such as AR, VR, MR and XR are impacting on storytelling.

The day included 8 panels exploring the diverse ways in which people are engaging with new technologies. Speakers included creative writers, theatremakers, game developers, filmmakers, artists, creative coders and academics discussing about how they are are approaching the emerging mediums of virtual reality, augmented reality, digital theatre, projection mapping and mixed reality for storytelling experiences. The talks addressed creative research & development into defining languages of production, narrative mechanisms and approaches to engaging audiences in experiential media across the spectrum of immersive technology.

Speakers included thinkers and creative talent from BBC R&D, Digital Catapult’s Creative XR Programme, Bristol VR Lab, York Creativity Labs, Institute of Creative Technologies, Liverpool Screen School and practice-based academics from a number of Universities from across the UK.

Companies included Marshmallow Laser Feast, Draw and Code, Limbik Theatre, Pilot Theatre, Boom Clap Play, Kinicho, Production Park, The Hatch, Mnemoscene, Immersive Storylab and Charisma.ai. There were also a number of demos including a 6 metre immersive dome from Igloo Vision and a Magic Leap, a new Sonic Reality engine by Kinicho and a hololens project by UWE’s Robert Eagle.

Liverpool Screen School’s own work on using immersive technology for storytelling about climate change and their use of mixed reality and augmented reality to create novel storytelling experiences was also on show. The day also included work from the AHRC’s Immersive Experiences programme including projects that enable people to experience a forgotten castle in Sheffield and a digital ghost hunt project in London.

There were also many other projects on display that give a glimpse into the future, including a project to bring augmented reality to trains across the UK, a holographic theatre in a box, a project that used mixed reality to reconnect Somali communities with heritage, dance and performance projects that blend digital and physical space, and talks about the way that programmers are working with the oral storytelling traditions. The event also explored how digital place is affecting physical communities and there were also projects that were using storytelling to tackle health issues and even to question question gender norms. People talked about MoCAP, Volumetric Video and new tools for creating more realistic environments and interactions in virtual worlds.

Pete Woodbridge, Event Producer and Creative Director at Immersive Storylab, said, “Storytelling is certainly going through a renaissance and it’s amazing how this technology is bringing so many creative disciplines together. We had such a range of thinking and approaches being discussed on the day and its a really great time to be working in such a collaborative area of research and practice. There’s real desire to move storytelling beyond the limitations screen and put people inside of experiences, or to paraphrase Robin McNicholas from Marshmallow Laser Feast ‘its about taking things out of the rectangle and into the real world’.

Here’s a PDF of the line up from the event, including details of all the speakers