Since our project started a few months ago, various teams, each representing an indispensable area of expertise, have been researching what audiences of the future might wish to engage with and how best to facilitate this engagement. Crucial questions have been asked including, for example, how to provide audiences with valuable learning experiences in mixed reality; how to iteratively test with audiences; how to capture what individuals and groups might experience in a mixed reality environment; and how to ensure the widest possible reach and accessibility of our work.
The project started with a series of creative workshops, which were held at the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, and facilitated by the immersive and content production studio Factory 42.
The first two workshops were informative and served the purpose of introducing the various teams involved in the project to existing research. It allowed us to explore the multi-sensory possibilities of storytelling in Magic Leap; brainstorm possible wow factors; and identify possible challenges by conducting multiple risk assessments. The workshops were extensively documented to create a rich resource for those who might be interested in researching the work in years to come.
These two initial workshops were followed by a further set of creative workshops in each of the museums. The first day was about imagining what worlds could be built. The second day consisted of a writing workshop and was led by an expert team of creative storytelling writers. The third day focused on working through some of the stories, paying particular attention to the technological challenges, and included a workshop with museum staff looking at a number of stories, and the fourth day was about storyboarding the three strongest options, focusing on branching narratives and audience agency. Finally, during the last day two stories were selected so that they could be shared and discussed with museum staff and the wider team. The feedback indicated at this point that both stories should be kept ‘alive’ to test Magic Leap opportunities before making the final selection.
Both creative workshops were designed and led by the experienced theatre director and participation producer Dani Parr from the Almeida, who involved participants in thinking about which kinds of robots or dinosaurs we might expect to see in Magic Leap; how groups would work together in mixed reality; how the chosen space within the museum would work in practice; what active learning could mean in this context; how the experience could be accessible and give a sense of exploration while also being semi-scaffolded and orchestrated on the day; how the story might be extended before and after the museum visit; and what would be the relationship between fact and fiction, imagination and museum learning.
Discussions focused on how the design of the experience would need to appeal to people from different age groups, different cultures, different competences; work for families, friends, and individuals; have multi-sensory triggers; be accessible and scalable for touring; encourage repeat visits; have a wow factor and be scientifically accurate.