Augmented and mixed reality are ideal ways to explore hidden heritage. In this broad collaborative project, the University of Liverpool’s CAVA (Centre for Architectural and Visual Arts) set the agenda of allowing people to engage in the architecture of the city in new ways. With partners including Dimension Studio, RIBA North and Immersive Storylab, Draw & Code were invited to interpret the history of St George’s Hall and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral using the latest immersive technologies.
Each of the two locations were to use differing approaches – one was to be volumetric capture of human performance visualised in Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset while the other was to be a stylised, mobile AR app.
St George’s Hall is the imposing building that is the signature structure of the museum quarter. Being a former court, the hall and its catacombs have been the scene of countless human dramas, prompting the creative team to explore a performance-orientated spin on its history. This led to collaboration with Dimension Studio – the UK’s first full-body volumetric capture studio – and Immersive Storylab who are experts in using cultural and narrative-driven applications of immersive tech. The resulting shoot involved an established TV director who relished taking on the new medium of mixed reality with the finished prototype being dubbed ‘If These Walls Could Talk’.
The second strand to the project was an ARKit application focused on the original plans for Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral. It was intended to be a gothic giant designed by Sir Edward Lutyens, instead the war intervened and the original, modern interpretation of the building was constructed in its stead. However, with work having begun on the original design, it’s a tantalising ‘what might have been’ for those with an interest in city planning and architecture.
Revealed during 2018 but planned to be available to the public in 2019, the St George’s Hall volumetric capture experience feels like a taste of the future of filmmaking. The volumetric performance when viewed in the HoloLens on location allows the visitor to choose their own vista. Being on location means there is no better setting possible for the action to unfold.