New round of StoryFutures Academy (@StoryFuturesA) Train the Trainer programme continues to develop essential skills for future graduates working in the UK immersive sector 

Following the success of a first cohort of seven university projects upskilling over 100 trainers across the country, StoryFutures Academy is delighted to announce a second cohort; a further seven projects receiving awards totalling £110,000. 

Train the Trainer will build a national pipeline of talent development in immersive storytelling, enabling over 14 universities to run new or modified programmes that address sector skills needs. 

The universities funded in this second round will address some of the sector’s emergent challenges, bringing the sciences together with the arts (STEAM) to help teach our brilliant creators of the future a set of essential crossover skills. 

The University projects include: 

UWE Bristol - ‘Can you hear me now’: a forward-looking teaching programme to support students in designing and developing dynamic and sophisticated immersive soundscapes. 

University of Surrey - 'Transience of Memory’: A set of creative collaborations, enabling multidisciplinary teams to use virtual production techniques in the making of interactive narrative experiences exploring the transient nature of memory. 

University of Greenwich - Virtual Production (VP): An interdisciplinary approach to Virtual Production collaborations to enable the creation and delivery of curricula and teaching materials for VP development and production workflows, including the on-set use of motion tracking systems and rigs, as well as high-powered games engine workstations in film production. 

De Montfort University - Transdisciplinary Prototyping’: training staff across Performance, Game Development, AI, Game Art, Media, Production, Film Making, Immersive Journalism, VFX, Music Technology and Audio Technology to enable students to work collaboratively to develop immersive experiences.

Royal Holloway University of London - ‘Interaction design for the masses’: a ground- breaking STEAM project enabling technical and non-technical students to collaborate in the design of user-centred prototypes for XR, developing skills in visual, audio and haptic interactions.

Queen Mary University of London in partnership with The Ideas Foundation – ‘Engineer the Story’ will train engineers in storytelling skills to help with their research, business development, and employability. 

Manchester Metropolitan University, School of Digital Arts - ‘Genre soundtracking’: students will help to develop an immersive 3D soundscape as part of an expanded documentary on acoustic surveillance. 

The 2nd cohort of Train the Trainer will begin their first workshops today and deliver them in July 2021.  

The Train the Trainer initiative was set up to support the development of UK trainers, and to address the chronic shortage of graduates with the right skills essential to the growth and success of the immersive sector in the UK.  

So far, 108 trainers have been involved and 22 university courses will now benefit from new methods of teaching and new materials created in the first round of completed Train the Trainer projects that were showcased in January.

The higher education courses impacted by Train the Trainer Cohort 1 activities include 12 disciplines from the fields of Film production, Media Arts, Engineering, Drama and Music, Games Design, Screenwriting, Ethnographic Documentary Filmmaking, Media Communications, Digital Animation, Creative Computing.

These projects delivered new innovative approaches to teaching; from Falmouth University’s virtual rehearsal and performance space bringing technicians and performers together using Mixed reality tools; Bath Spa’s new insights into how VR and AR storytelling experiences can be better marketed to audiences; National Film and Television School helping to promote professional development; Royal Holloway University of London developing the use of AR cards to physically engage students during virtual teaching to the extensive work of UCL on immersive skills development and production workflows.  

The outcomes to date have exceeded all expectations,’ says StoryFutures Academy, Executive Producer, Amanda Murphy who runs the programme, ‘The success is down to how well these teams of educators from many different disciplines collaborated throughout, and were able to use insight they gained from working with industry collaborators and mentors to ensure the outputs were relevant for next generation storytellers. All project teams pushed into new territory, and over 300 students and academics from 12 different disciplines have already been involved. It’s been a truly interdisciplinary approach and the roll out means these numbers will only grow’.  

 

Here is an overview of the six completed projects from the first cohort:

Train the Trainer cohort 1 projects

Bath Spa University / Immersive Promotion

Project Lead: Matthew Freeman 

Project Overview:

A research-led project that develops new promotional strategies, prototypes and course materials for how VR and AR storytelling experiences can be better marketed to audiences. 

Falmouth University / Varyon VR

Project Lead: Klaus Kruse 

Project Overview: 

A mixed reality devised immersive theatre project created by Theatre & Performance and Technical Theatre Arts tutors and students at Falmouth University that explores ways of bringing the external control of theatrical spaces to games environments by creating a live interactive experience in VR with actors and audience members.

National Film and Television School / Immersive and Interactive Scriptwriting
Project Lead: Tim Wright

Project Overview:

This project identified the creative issues and opportunities offered by writing for immersive storytelling, experimenting with different collaborative tools and interdisciplinary teams over a 6 day programme of workshops. 

Royal Holloway, University of London / AR Story Decks: Using Augmented Reality to Enhance Online Learning

Project Lead: Mary Matheson 

Project Overview:  

AR Story Decks explores ways of enhancing teaching by incorporating AR in teaching methodologies across existing courses in multiple disciplines. Based on a teaching challenge set across multiple departments, the project delivered a website (arstorydecks.com), with a toolkit and lesson plans which have led to modifications in teaching activities across several modules.

University College London / What and who makes an immersive production work?

Project Lead: Dinah Lammiman

Project Overview: 

The project focused on effective knowledge transfer of VR production, workflows and skill sets, and set out to devise learning materials to rapidly upskill production teams and students. It documented VR production best practices and produced training materials to help produce necessary skill sets. The primary outcome of VR related work in UCL Anthropology is a new MA programme due to go live in 2021. 

University of Sussex / PAST PRESENCE: How to design and teach new techniques for immersive storytelling about historical object biographies in Augmented Reality

Project Lead: Alex Butterworth

Project Overview: 

The project focused on the challenges of data driven immersive storytelling looking at a central case study combining immersive storytelling and 3D data visualisation to offer a narrative account of three flights by Lysander aircraft into occupied WW2 France.

Abertay University (supported By University of Hertfordshire) /

Practical application of Virtual Production technique in Education for the film & entertainment industry

Project Lead: Matthew Bett

Project Overview: 

This project focuses on virtual production techniques now a mainstay of high-end film and visual effects production and pre-production. It seeks to address the pre-requisite technical knowledge barriers by working with existing game-engine derived virtual production techniques and existing cost-effective hardware in order to create educational material and to allow the students at both institutions to learn about these techniques from the setup, to hardware and technological limitations, and in practical application.

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