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5th July, 2018

Augmented Reality Wall Project Brings Central Stories to Life


The first ever usage of Augmented Reality (AR) software at Central has been presented publicly as a community engagement project on the North Block building development at Central.

Central Applied Theatre Practices lecturer, Dr Nicky Abraham, was instrumental in conceiving and setting up the project which aims to reveal the many engaging student and staff stories and diverse range of projects undertaken at the School.

Central’s new North Block development, which is scheduled to open in the 2018/19 academic year, will provide new teaching, rehearsal, performance and office space on campus. At the rear of the building project site a space has been designated for bespoke artwork, and using an AR app Aurasma (now HP Reveal), Dr Abraham has been able to augment trigger images (auras), making images come to life with stories through overlaid videos.

Dr Abraham commented:

“I wanted to bring the heart of the building to the outside community. This project was and is still about capturing the huge variation of skills and knowledge demonstrated by students, alumni and staff and sharing snapshots with the community.”

The AR project, which commenced in September 2017, has involved a fast learning curve for those involved, including Dr Abraham, Deputy Dean Anna Tulett and Scenic Art tutor Carla Mardle2nd year DATE student Phoebe White, and short course administrator Emma Broomfield who worked together to commission paintings by Central’s Youth Theatre members.

Once the first videos had been added to the walls, the team were able to share the magical effect of AR, which led to further conversations and the first few people from the community downloading the app and trying the wall for themselves.

The process has also drawn engagement not only from students and staff, but also passers-by wishing to share their Central stories, intrigued children and their parents, local residents, city-workers and even a professional designer from LA who wanted to offer advice.

Evolution of the project

Initially, Central alumni from as far back as 1967 and current students attended storytelling workshops to share stories, memories and tales from their experiences at the School. Central third year students Kirsty DoigRobbie Moore and Kim Turford helped facilitate the sessions and contributed their own videos to the wall.

The initial sketch and painting of the core design on the wall at the back of the building started on 17th April by BA (Hons) Drama, Applied Theatre and Education 1st and 2nd year students Amy KempTeodora Dontu, and Amy Whitestone.

Soon afterwards, Central youth theatre group students who aged from 6 – 13 years old completed the final stage of painting, adding the lovely snakes, leaves, flowers, butterflies, and flames to the image on the wall.

The painting could then be used as a collection of auras, or trigger images, to overlay the videos. At the time of writing, videos are being added from staff from non-teaching departments and students undertaking collaborative outreach projects. Also encouraged to take part and contribute are students and alumni from other courses at Central.

Dr Abraham added,

“In the future, it would be great to preserve the wall as a community piece of interactive art, and to extend our use of AR to share the stories from within our walls with the local residents and passers-by from Swiss Cottage. We could, for example, add trigger images in the large windows on the side of the west block and augment huge videos for people to see across the road, or we could augment videos to tell stories of Central together, recount the history of the building and the school, and offer snapshots of exciting projects as they happen around the building. Posters could also be augmented with trailers of shows. The potential is huge!”

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