StoryFutures Academy, the UK’s National Centre for Immersive Storytelling run by the National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway, University of London, announces the first recipients of grant funding for its Train the Trainer scheme. This new initiative is aimed at growing the number of trainers and training available to help build a pipeline of next generation immersive storytelling talent so the UK can retain its position as leader in this field.
Over £100,000 is being awarded to winning projects at Abertay University, Bath Spa University, Falmouth University, UCL and University of Sussex. These five universities will join project teams from the National Film and Television School and Royal Holloway to form the first Train the Trainer cohort. Their mission is to bring this new exciting form of storytelling to life for academics and students, while delivering some much needed up to the minute immersive course materials.
“It is a real first,” says StoryFutures Academy Executive Producer, Amanda Murphy. “We are bringing together interdisciplinary teams from different UK universities to help establish a new framework of knowledge and some key principles for immersive production. The ambition is to build a network so trainers are able to learn from each other and drive effective pathways for the next generation of immersive storytellers.”
Amanda goes on to explain that the scheme is a key part of StoryFutures Academy work to address the skills gaps in immersive experience creation highlighted as a real barrier to growth in StoryFutures Academy’s Skills for Immersive Experience Creation Report, published February 2020. “We can’t wait to make a start,” she adds.
The seven projects explore a diverse selection of topics and approaches to the study of immersive content production, including the application of VR production techniques in educational and promotional contexts, immersive theatre, interactive scriptwriting and potential of augmented reality to enhance online learning methodologies and platforms.
The projects will help bring this new exciting form of storytelling to life for academics and students while creating the opportunity for delivering some much needed up to the minute VR/AR/MR course materials. The universities involved have pledged to integrate these new materials into courses across the arts and sciences spectrum, including computer science, engineering, performance arts, film, digital media and design among others.
Co-Director, Professor James Bennett, from Royal Holloway says: “As part of the UK’s industrial strategy to make the country a pioneer in immersive storytelling, we are working with some of the leading universities across the country to build a pipeline of talent that will keep the country at the forefront of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and cross reality (XR) innovations.”
Teams will have six months to complete their projects, fully supported by StoryFutures Academy with a series of training workshops and access to a pool of distinguished industry mentors such as VR Director Darren Emerson, Interaction designer Kim-Leigh Pontin and experienced immersive Executive Producer, Claire Cook. The cohort will participate in a showcase in early 2021, to present their key shared learnings.
The Train the Trainer scheme responds to findings published in StoryFutures Academy’s Skills Report, which highlighted critical skills gaps in the growing immersive sector, and concern over talent pipeline for this sector. 44% of those surveyed or interviewed for the report expressed concerns about the lack of graduates with the right skills to meet the demand for skilled professionals in the immersive industries.