Augmented and virtual reality promise to transform the way audiences experience the arts. We need to make sure the UK creative workforce has the skills to seize the opportunity, says Heleana Neil.

Photo of a woman using a VR headset over a blue sky background

Virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies have the power to transform the way we perceive and experience certain situations. They have come on leaps and bounds in recent years – and a new centre for immersive storytelling, the StoryFutures Academy, has just been launched. See here what we can offer.

Worldwide audiences

Immersive technologies, such as augmented reality (AR), have the ability to captivate audiences worldwide. They can completely transform the way people experience something from the theatre to the classroom.

We’ve unlocked a new way to tell stories – and it’s likely we’ve only just scratched the surface of the power of this technology

The UK is at the forefront of the creative revolution. We’ve unlocked a new way to tell stories – and it’s likely we’ve only just scratched the surface of the power of this technology. Centres such as ours will help us discover new and innovative ways to use AR and VR. We will offer a number of different programmes to help ensure the UK creative workforce is the most skilled in the world, including introduction workshops, bootcamps, on-set training, funding and labs.

Run by a partnership between the National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway, University of London, we received funding of £10m from UK Research and Innovation’s Audience of the Future programme. The programme aims to support immersive technologies and propel the UK’s position in the creative revolution forward. This is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which backs UK businesses and creates good jobs.

Current activities

We are currently bringing together artists and new technologies to look for new ways to connect audiences. Students, writers, actors and researchers alike are being exposed to innovative techniques and ideas, all with the aim of sharing the narratives that creatives want to tell. We have plans to work with 60 organisations across the UK to help develop the immersive sector and talent pool. 

Inside the labs, the work of the Royal Holloway is being used. Research done in sectors such as electronic engineering and media arts is enabling us to carry out our aims.

Heleana Neil is a Content Creative at the StoryFutures Academy.

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