XR Stories (formerly Creative Media Labs) is a £15 million investment by AHRC, the University of York, BFI and Screen Yorkshire and a wide range of creative and cultural industries partners and Yorkshire Universities, set up to understand and exploit the potential of immersive and interactive technologies for storytelling.
XR Stories is funded as one of the nine Creative Industry Cluster investments from AHRC and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, with the overarching ambition to make the Yorkshire and Humber region the UK’s centre of expertise in digital screen storytelling.
We are constantly connected with sources of content and with each other on various devices and channels of communication. Such mediated connectivity is now part of our everyday life. Interaction technologies allow us to express a huge variety of choices, but also sense our actions and automatically infer consumption profiles and personality traits (sometimes controversially). Immersive technologies have reached the maturity required to engage our senses with virtual and augmented realities. The explosive growth in popularity of these new media demonstrates the public demand for interactivity and immersion, particularly among younger generations. The screen industries have cautiously developed an awareness of these new opportunities for storytelling but the advances made so far are modest. The world of mediated communication and interaction has fundamentally changed, but mediated storytelling has not followed suit.
XR Stories will lead the UK in these emerging fields, working with partners to seize the opportunity to conceive radically different narrative experiences:
- to create story ecosystems and interactive and immersive story worlds;
- to support highly personalised narrative experiences;
- to enable story experiences through a plurality of end-point delivery platforms;
- to provide audiences with points of intervention and participation, to reshape and re-tell stories.
Our aim is to enable audiences to engage with the stories they want, when, where and how they want them.
XR Stories builds on three key initiatives: Screen Yorkshire’s (SY) five-year Growth Plan for the Y&H Screen Industries, the British Film Institute’s (BFI) ongoing support for this cluster, and the University of York’s major investment in creativity for the screen industries.
In collaboration with our partners, we have identified six Research and Development challenges which will be our initial focus for this project.
- Narrative experiences for the second screen, complementing major film or TV productions.
- Storytelling in VR, as an example of second screen experiences that have the capacity to develop into primary experiences.
- The elaboration of second screen experiences into coherent interactive and immersive storyworlds (a more ambitious and long-term challenge).
- The development of interactive and responsive narratives, such as TV programmes that adapt to the contexts in which they are experienced.
- The development of dedicated tools for creating, producing and delivering such narrative experiences.
- The use of big data analytics and artificial intelligence to shape narrative content creation and delivery.
We will run industry-academia partnerships throughout the project to ensure that these challenges continue to address the core industry challenges, to ensure optimal alignment between projects and industry.
XR Stories has funding to support collaborative projects between industry partners and academic institutions. This includes funding for SMEs to take part in research and development projects, awarded through competitive calls for proposals, and funding for researchers, undergraduate and post-graduate students to undertake projects, exchange programmes, secondments and internships. More information about the exact mechanisms are to follow.